How much should you compromise in a long-term relationship?

Any good and healthy relationship requires compromise – or so you might think.

In fact, this is the topic of Metro.co.uk’s Smut Drop podcast this week with Dr Alexandra, who shares the key ingredients to keeping love and passion burning long after the honeymoon.

But the idea that compromise is crucial for a relationship is not a belief championed by Dr Alexandra.

Sexologist and therapist Ness Cooper also points out: ‘Compromising happens all the time without us being aware, it’s only when we become aware of having to compromise on certain things that it can cause confusion or conflict.

‘We have to question why these particular things are noticeable to us and why they hold such importance.’

So how much should you compromise in a long-term relationship? And should you even be doing it in the first place?

Experts weigh in with their thoughts…

Things should feel equal

Limor Gottlieb, the founder of Love Evolved and a doctoral researcher at the Centre for Culture and Evolution at Brunel University London, says that being a little selfish is actually a good thing and that sacrifices should be minimal and mutual. 

‘If you are someone who sacrifices in your relationship, you should make sure your partner does too – so that you keep a sense of equity,’ she says.

‘So, for example, you shouldn’t have to give up aspects of yourself like your personal interests for your romantic partner. Relationships are not about martyrdom. 

‘If you think that over-sacrifice will bring you and your partner closer and help your relationship, you are mistaken. 

‘Although according to research our personal commitment to our partner increases the more we sacrifice, the research points out that our satisfaction with the relationship actually decreases as a result. 

‘So doing more for your partner will make you more committed to the relationship but ultimately unhappy. The caveat is that the more committed you are, and the more you invest in your romantic relationships, the more difficult it is for you to leave even when you are no longer happy. 

‘So, you ultimately run the risk of getting trapped in an unhappy relationship.’

Don’t compromise on who you are

Dr Alexandra adds that being ‘uncompromising’ could actually be the key to a happier and healthier, long-term relationship.

She says: ‘If you want a bland, pleasant companionship, compromise will absolutely deliver that.

‘But if you want an exciting, dynamic, passionate, intimate relationship, then the key is to be uncompromising.

‘If throughout the day, we’re cutting corners on our soul and compromising and essentially amputating elements of our being.

‘When you compromise, and you don’t say what’s true for you, it is at a microscopic level, sometimes much bigger, a form of disconnecting, you’re not sharing who you are.’

Dr Alexandra says, when it comes to being uncompromising, it’s about ‘expressing your truth, expressing what you want, expressing what’s alive inside you, and learning how to do it in a way that your partner can hear.’

Certainly a different way of thinking about it. And you can hear more from Dr Alexandra on this week’s Smut Drop episode.

Watch out for resentment

If you’re making a lot of sacrifices that your partner can’t be bothered to notice, you’re just going to resent your partner, explains Limor.

She says: ‘A sure way to know if you’re sacrificing too much for your relationship is if you notice yourself having thoughts of resentment or hatred about your partner, and the relationship, and if you feel locked into an unhappy relationship.’

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