Life presents us with a lot of hard choices.
What clothing to put on in the morning. Milk or cream in our coffee. Who to spend the rest of our lives with, and what to do if we want completely different things out of it than they do.
There are pre-designed answers to these questions, of course. High-waisted jeans. Milk is less fattening. Pick the person you want to be with, because love conquers all. We have a specific set of rules we ought to follow as we plough through the tough questions in lives and they all come with pre-determined outcomes.
The outcome of choosing the right pants is getting complimented by the trendy girl in your office. Picking milk means you won’t feel as bloated. Picking the person you love over the life that you want means your sense of self-worth will slowly degrade and deteriorate over years of contentedly slipping into bed beside someone you’re comfortable with.
I want to make it clear that I’m not bashing marriage. Or relationships. Or romance of any kind. I love love. I love it too much. I lose my mind and my heart and my footing over love much more often than I’d like to admit and that’s the only reason I know anything about this in the first place. Love is wonderful and worthwhile and enriching but it should never be a standoff between the person and the life that you want.
Love shouldn’t have to be the biggest compromise of your life. I know that you’ve been told otherwise. You’ve watched movies, read novels, heard adages from relatives and friends who perhaps have very successful relationships – love is constant compromise. You can’t have it all. And perhaps they are right. You can’t have it all. But you should be able to have what matters.
You should be able to be with somebody you love and also live a life that entices, invigorates and inspires you. You should be able to pursue what you want out of this world in every fearless way you want to without running the risk of losing the person you value most. You should be able to have, at the bare minimum, a relationship that allows for growth and exploration on the part of both parties.
What you have when you have a relationship that forces you to whittle or water yourself down is a mismatch of values. You may have found someone you love. Even someone you want to spend your life with. But if the only time you see eye-to-eye is when you’re staring into each other’s, you’re signing yourself up for a lifetime of hard choices.
You can make it work with someone who wants different things than you. It’s been done countless times. If one wants a steady 9-5 and the other wants to endlessly roam the globe, you can find an in-between. One can settle down or the other can speed up or you can find a satiated in-between where both of you are halfway to happy. But is this the life either of you really want? Is this the life you’ll be happy with when you look back at it? Will you be glad that you compromised and put aside your desires for another person?
If the answer is yes, then you’re set. Some compromises are worth it. But if the answer is no, then I encourage you to move on. To cut the cord. To do the hard thing that none of us want to do, and to go pursue the life that you wish you were living.
Here’s the stark truth about the person who is right for you: They want the same lifestyle that you do. How do I know this? Because that is, by definition, what makes them right for you. To be with someone whose eyes light up when yours do, whose heart races when your blood also pounds, who is enticed and inspired by the same forces that drive you forward, is a gift many of us never truly get to experience.
Because we settle. We settle for the person we love over the person who could push us – to be bigger, stronger, greater versions of ourselves. We tell ourselves that love is enough. That it conquers everything. But we forget that love shouldn’t be the thing that conquers our lives – we should be. And we should do it deliberately, triumphantly, by the side of somebody who shares all of our joys and successes.
So how do we meet such a person? That’s simple – we do more of what we love. We give ourselves up to uncertainty, to searching, to pursuing what we want out of life without the certainty of having someone beside us while we do it. We throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the things that we love and we consequently attract the people who love what we love. Who value what we prioritize. Who appreciate all that we are. We throw ourselves into the heart of possibility instead of staying comfortably settled inside of certainty. Because we owe it to ourselves to do so. We owe it to ourselves to live the greatest life that we’re capable of living, even if that means that we have to be alone for a very long time.
At the end of the day, love is wonderful but it isn’t enough to make up for an entire lifetime of compromising your core values. You don’t want to spend forever gazing into somebody’s eyes expecting to find all of the answers you need inside of them. Wait for the person who is gazing outward in the same direction as you are.
It’s going to make all of the difference in the world.