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The Difference Between Compromise & Self-Abandonment
Relationships require compromise, right?
I remember hearing this a lot growing up.
And while I think it is true, what is not specified is the difference between compromise and self-abandonment. We have people throwing themselves under the bus in relationships, wondering why they feel sick, depleted, resentful, have auto-immune mysteries, and are exhausted, when all they’re doing is “compromising.” They’re winning a gold star in relational martyrdom because codependency and the sacrifice of self were rationalized through language that shames standing in one’s sovereignty, needs and desires.
It must be noted that this is born from people-pleasing, survival and the fawn response. So let’s breathe some compassion into the pattern while we leave it in the dust of our relational past.
And so, in order to thrive in love, this begs the question:
How the hell do you tell the difference between compromise and self-abandonment?
Compromise, even though it can create grief from the potential loss of a possibility, is expansive to the relationship and ourselves. We can sense that it is pushing us and demanding more of us, but we somehow know it will lead to the creation of a union that is greater.
Self-abandonment feels heavy. It is usually accompanied by resentment. It doesn't feel expansive; it feels like we're leaving ourselves behind and prioritizing the other person and the relationship over ourselves, at the cost of ourselves.
When we're recovering people-pleasers it can be a sticky thing to differentiate. We are used to collapsing to guilt, and standing in the truth of one's desires can feel foreign.
Know this: we can increase our capacity for guilt.
And, we must, in turn, decrease our capacity for resentment (whenever it’s present, get REAL curious) as it's the emotional key to where we lack boundaries and standing for what we want.
To do this well, we're going to have to kill the martyr in us, as that martyr likely also holds power through scorekeeping and is fuelled by the desire to finally be noticed and "enough" for someone to recognize we matter.
Be that someone.
P.S. Self-abandonment isn’t loving to ourselves or others. Creating space for our whole selves as well as our partner’s (or friends/family/etc) is what truly healthy relating is built upon.