We’re constantly reminded that, when it comes to relationships, there is a certain element of give and take; there will be times when compromises need to be made, when you will have to miss poker night for a work event that isn’t yours, or even times when you’ll have to vacate your own house for the dreaded “boys night in”. It’s part of the binding contract we sign when we decide to take on another half: not only do we take on the bits we love, we always take on the bits we don’t like, the bits we don’t understand and the bits that we completely hate.
There are times when we have to change things for the person we’re in a relationship with, and while that’s okay occasionally, it can sometimes be a stifling and painful experience to go through the process of changing yourself because someone else doesn’t like that bit of you. So, in the interest of balance, I’m asking this: where do you draw the line between compromise and character crushing?
It’s a hard one to call when you’re trying to answer that question, most people probably don’t even notice a distinction between the two things; but the more I hear about other people’s relationships, the more I notice original characters being beaten out of people and “couple characters” taking their place. It seems like a compromise when actually, without realising it, we’re changing who we are because the person we’re with isn’t sure whether they actually like it or not. For some people this seems acceptable, for me it seems pointless; surely they should like you for the person you were when they started dating you, and not for the person they think they can turn you into?
A few people have assured me that it’s not about change, but from my perspective if you’re steadily weeding out the things about a person you don’t like, then that qualifies as change. There is a massive and obvious difference between changing someone’s character and getting them to adopt new habits that will benefit both members of the relationship! It’s when people start doing things their partner likes, or equally they stop doing things that their partner doesn’t like, that the line seems to blur slightly.
Isn’t a relationship meant to be about being yourself but with another person? Rather than the alternative of being a completely different person for someone who’s been in your life for all of five minutes? It seems unfair that we’re constantly expected to drop elements of our character off for the benefit of someone else. Surely a relationship should be character enriching? I appreciate there are times when people change who they are, their beliefs and such like, but I’m a firm believer in doing that for your own reasons and not the reasons of another person, which is unfortunately what a lot of people seem to get sucked into.
A relationship should contain compromise and shuffling around sometimes to try and accommodate the needs of someone you really care about. What a relationship shouldn’t contain is you being moulded into someone you’re not because that’s who the person you’re in a relationship with wants you to be. It’s a thin line between compromise and crushing someone’s character to fit your own needs, and people don’t seem to realise how damaging crossing that line can be. The big thing that’s often overlooked is that while relationships are important, they’re never going to be as important as the relationship you have with yourself. Over the years people will come and go, relationships will blossom and wither and changes you made might turn into regrets. The truly important thing to remember is that when your relationship ends you shouldn’t be a hollow version of what your ex made you, you should be a happy version of the person you are – whether they liked it or not…