So often when it comes to love, we compromise. And compromise, when done in a spirit of peacefully negotiating with a spouse or trying to get the kids to school in one piece can be absolutely fine.
The real problem happens when we compromise when it comes to the big things like who we’re with, what kind of treatment we should accept or who we’re “good enough” to date.
When it comes to the most important things, often we compromise A LOT.
We tell ourselves that we’ll date when we lose the last 10 pounds. That we’re not good enough because.. the past, or our last relationship sucked, or it’s Tuesday.
We tell ourselves that we should settle for the person in front of us, or we should take the first relationship that sorta works that comes along. We try to make it work when we suspect we should think about letting it go. We settle in when things are “okay” and we don’t know what else to do. We give up, we fail, we compromise.
But this isn’t mindful compromise with the goal of getting along with someone better or accepting that we’re not 20 anymore, it’s settling. And settling doesn’t really earn you anything except MAYBE comfort, but usually not for very long.
Why Do We Compromise?
Most of the time we tell ourselves an elaborate story about what we can get and what we deserve when it comes to love. The problem is that except for all but the most actualized among us this story is mostly fictional with hints of truth.
Usually what we tell ourselves comes straight from our insecurities, past relationship experiences and our confusing, painful childhood. And it’s nowhere near the truth. No matter. We shut down promising relationships, we evaluate people weirdly, we act strange. We get spooked.
And we fail.
And we keep failing until we realize that it’s okay to honor what we want. It’s okay to hold out for something better. It’s okay. As long as we keep trying, failure is normal. Just imagine what would have happened if you hadn’t failed with your first love who was completely wrong for you, or with that crappy fling you started? Failure is okay.
What isn’t okay is compromising by staying out of the ring and telling ourselves that with time, it’ll get easier somehow, but we just have to “take a break.” Or it’s time to lick our wounds— so “no dating right now” we tell ourselves as the time passes. Or, “that’s just how it is” with our disconnected spouse.
Frustratingly, and like all procrastination, it doesn’t get easier.
We do this because change is really hard and we might get hurt. If we try our hardest and fail, we fear that we might find out that our greatest fear is true— that there isn’t anyone out there.
So we vacillate. We go about things half-assed. We get hurt or we want something different or whatever…
Then that month off from dating (when we were going to “find ourself”) turns into a year, which stretches to a few years. The time since we can remember actually having fun in our relationship fades away. Then we look up and the time has flown, it’s sunk, it’s lost on embitterment and fear.
Then one day finally, after a lot of careful thought, planning and wound licking, we shove ourselves outside and “go on the date” or “have the tough conversation.” And usually it’s terrible. We feel awkward and ill at ease. We choke on our words. The other person doesn’t respond well. The circumstances feel all wrong.
Then we retreat back to our cave and tell ourselves some version of our story. “There are no good ones left”,“It’s too late” or.. whatever. And it’s like this that the insecurities keep piling up and the downward spiral continues.
This pain-related procrastination is a problem that happens all the time. ALL THE TIME. And it’s not your fault.
It’s human nature to want to stop hurt, to do something different than last time and guard your heart.
The problem with slapping our guard up is that we miss out. We internalize that love is dangerous, that we have to be careful because… because… because…
The danger isn’t that cute stranger you’re dying to meet or the one you have lost touch with but who sleeps next to you night after lonely night. The danger lies in continuing the cycle of self destruction by letting yourself stay fallen. The real danger lies in giving up.
So if you’re not getting what you want when it comes to love or you see yourself in any part of this, my challenge to you is this:
Do one small thing today that either gets you closer to meeting someone if you’re single, or improves your relationship if you’re coupled up. Just one small thing. And work on releasing all of those limiting ideas about who you are in all of this. Do some mindset spring cleaning.
I bet things will feel at least a little bit better.
If you’re already out there being happy and fabulous already, extra credit.