I want to spend some time deconstructing and unpacking the whole "don't compromise" bit of advice that I'm sure we've all given, received, doubted, absorbed, or rejected at some point in our lives. During my short relationship "pause" with SCL, I heard this from many well-intentioned friends and loved ones. Of course at that point I was bemoaning how the relationship hadn't been what I wanted (my, how easy it is to say that in the midst of a break-up!), so naturally the response I got was, "He wasn't right for you, and don't compromise what you want in a relationship."
Now, to a certain degree, I do support not compromising on certain things:
- Key core values (for me that would include feminism, gender equality, and progressive causes)
- Major life goals (getting/not getting married, having/not having children)
- Safety (Obvious, but worth stating)
Essentially, I support not compromising on what makes you a complete whole human being. The problem is that I think our expectations about what it requires for us to achieve satisfaction and a sense of wholeness are seriously skewed and more akin to Disney films than something we can actually reasonably expect to achieve.
I am the biggest culprit of this. I don't even pretend not to envy my many friends who are in relationships that are on a sure path to marriage. I have wanted this for over a year with SCL. The desire to marry is a core value for me. What is not essential about that is the exact time, place, and details about how that will occur. But over time I had convinced myself that I needed SCL to commit by this time and in this way with this kind of ring. I had talked to myself so much about that I was convinced that it was true.
How do I know this isn't true? Because SCL and I together despite a short break-up, not getting engaged, and moving out of our apartment. Granted it hasn't been long since all of this stuff happened, but the fact that we somehow find a way to move through all that crap is an indication to me that we've still got something worth fighting for. And our interactions are more healthy than they ever were when we were talking about rings. He is honest with me about what he wants; I do the same; and we are talking about how to get to a new place where we are both satisfied.
We can choose not to compromise--to toss aside the relationship that doesn't match up with what we want, when we want it. I could do that with SCL. I've thought about it. I think to myself, "Oh, I just want to find someone older and ready to get married." Maybe that would work out, at least for the time being. But who's to say that this other partner and I would continue to be on the same page for the next five years or ten years or however long? And why in the hell would I turn my back on the person I've loved for two years, who is trying really hard to be the partner I need?
When we were dealing with the whole couch situation, I was PISSED at SCL. BIG TIME. In a matter of about 15 seconds, I had worked myself up into a fury directed at him. If he hadn't broken up with me, if he hadn't insisted on moving out of our apartment, I would never be living in this new place that was too fucking small for my couch. Therefore, it was SCL's fault that the couch didn't fit, and I wanted to give him hell about it. He finally yelled at me, "Sometimes things don't work out the way we want them to!" Not his fault. Not my fault. Just, c'est la vie. Damn it. It's so much better being able to target my anger at another person.
I don't want to view my relationship with SCL--the person most precious to me--through a lens of consumerism. I don't want to wake up one day "unsatisfied," assume that this feeling is an indication that something is wrong with the relationship itself (rather than recognizing life's ebb and flow of happiness), convince myself I'm compromising, and walk away from it. I don't want to blame any lacking I feel on my relationship when there simply are times when I will not have what I want, when I want it.
So, I am compromising. On certain things. Not things that I absolutely need right this second. And I am learning to be alright with being in that place.