love out loud: zen and the art of compromise
The media and its agents (oh, aren’t they just to blame for everything?) want you to believe a lot of things so they can make money from you. They want you to think you’re unattractive so you’ll spend buy make-up and gym memberships trying to attract Prince or Princess Charming, just like in the movies.
I, however, rely on bartending and personal-assisting to finance my lifestyle, so any agenda pushing on my part is mostly for my benefit, and maybe for yours, so I’m going to give it to you straight.
No one is ever going to meet all of your needs.
The individuality that we pride ourselves on is something that we seem to forget in our belief that someone, somewhere, someday is going to be just perfect for us. This is why the notion of soul mates is so dangerous: all relationships take work, much of which is based around compromise (there is also a flipside to this, in which people stay in volatile relationships because they believe they’re meant to be together, but we’ll address this another day; my point is, it’s a stupid idea).
Compromise is something that we have to negotiate daily, but which rarely warrants all that much thought. Sometimes Subway runs out of honey oat bread and you have to get multigrain instead. Or perhaps your housemate hates Law and Order: SVU, so you watch it while she’s at work.
The problem in romantic relationships is that big-ticket items, like not wanting to have children or your religious beliefs, often don’t have a middle ground. You can’t have a child and then only have it around half the time, nor can you simultaneously live in both the city and the country. Some lifestyle choices are simply incompatible, and can’t be resolved no matter how much you love someone.
The important thing with compromising, however, is ensuring that you don’t compromise yourself.
Back in the day, I was with Bono, a man who identified himself as polygamous. Being pretty set in my monogamous ideals, this divide was never something we could really reconcile. He wanted to think of it as an open relationship, whilst also knowing that I would end it if he ever took advantage of this ‘openness’, and even though I knew logically that attaching a boyfriend/girlfriend label to it wouldn’t really change anything, I still felt hurt every time he refused to do so. We simply weren’t suited to one another, no matter how well we got along.
Conversely, my current boyfriend, Julio, is allergic to nuts, and asks that I brush my teeth after eating nutella so I don’t send him into anaphylactic shock should I kiss him (not so trite when you realise that I once made a friend cart the hazelnut elixir with him around the world for me, due to its absence in Cuba). Having never had to previously consider my dietary choices as weapons to render someone unable to breathe, it has required some adjustment, but it’s something I’m happy to do in order to not kill him.
Compromises are necessary to maintain any kind of relationship, but it’s likewise necessary to think about what meeting someone halfway is really going to mean for you. Even if there is a middle ground, it’s not always one that is compatible with your desires/morals/whatever, and few things are likely to create resentment and contempt as quickly as having to give up something that is important to you. Likewise, another person should be able to enjoy all that is dear to them and indulge their own dreams.
Holding onto who you are and what you want will sustain you far longer than the affection of a person you could only be with because of some kind of sacrifice.
Alternatively, you could just hedge your bets on that gym membership.
(Image credit: 1.)