You must be pretty fed up of hearing advice on whether you should or shouldn’t compromise. “Keep holding on to your ideal,” say some experts. “You’re wasting your time looking for Mr. or Ms. Perfect,” say others. For women, especially, with the hanging horror of the so-called biological clock hanging over your head, the pressure is on to find Mr. Good Enough and start making babies. Yet you know in your heart you’re destined for greater things…
1. Are you actively ignoring things that are bothering you?
The right sort of compromise shouldn’t feel like you’re working against yourself. It’s natural to doubt and notice faults when you’re just getting to know someone, but when there’s something worthwhile there, the things that attract you to the person should gradually outweigh the things you dislike. This is a natural feeling – the attraction growing inside of you. You may feel the resistance to this in the form of doubt, but the driving force should be your attraction. You should get a sense that things are moving in this direction after a few dates. If, instead, everything feels forced, like you’re expending a lot of energy ignoring stuff that’s bothering you, then this person is probably not right for you.
2. Are you feeling your own feelings?
The fear of being alone, of not starting a family is a powerful force. It can make you blind to your true feelings about someone to the point where you convince yourself they are perfect for you. Friends and family, keen to see you happy, may also encourage you to hold onto someone who’s wrong for you. At other times, judgemental friends and family members may fail to see the potential in someone special and convince you that you can do better. Listening to other people’s advice is not a bad thing, especially if you have a bad dating pattern, but your feelings should come first. Make sure you’re listening to your own heart and not other people’s. If it’s sending you in directions that seem wrong, then maybe it’s telling you that you still have some things to learn before you’re ready for the right relationship. Pay attention.
3. Are you putting conditions on the relationship too soon?
You shouldn’t enter a relationship hoping you can change your partner to fit your ideal. Relationships do change people, but in order to be in one you must be able to accept your partner as they are and be happy with that person. If you start dating someone thinking you can change the things about them you don’t like then you’re deluding yourself. You’re trying to date someone who doesn’t exist instead of dating the person in front of you.
4. Are you rewriting history?
Making a natural compromise is not about pretending this is what you’ve always wanted. That’s delusion, not a compromise. Being aware of the things in your partner that don’t quite gel with your ideal but realising they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things is real. Convincing yourself that everything you’ve always wanted was wrong so you can hold on to a relationship for fear of being alone is bad for you.
5. Are you happy?
If someone makes you happy, genuinely happy, then that’s the important thing. All the doubts you may be feeling for your partner failing to stand up to your preconceived standards are your head dealing with the difficult issue of reconciling the fact that your world view is being challenged by reality. I can’t stress this enough – the brain has very little, if anything, to do with deciding matters of the heart. Even when we think we’re acting from purely physical, subconscious motives when we choose someone, billions of years of evolution are acting on our behalf, taking into accounts factors our conscious minds are not even aware of. Your brain is used to being involved in all your decisions, so it’ll want in on this one too, but it’s not really its domain. Let your brain do the things it’s good at and let your body and your heart do their job. Stop and listen to what they’re telling you. Then you’ll know if you’re dating the right person.