I’ve come across the idea lately that “love is sacrifice,” or “love is a compromise.” It felt like a slap in the face. The fact that this is a widely held belief really struck a chord with me.
I am certainly coming from an extreme angle here - I’m in a phase of transition where I simply don’t want to compromise on anything. My self-discovery is genuinely dependent upon it. I don’t want to sacrifice my time, beliefs, or belongings to anyone or anything. Because after being in a situation where I sacrificed and compromised to avoid nearly every argument and to hide my true feelings, I just don’t believe either are integral parts of a loving, healthy relationship.
Here is the overarching issue: when you start to sacrifice your beliefs, belongings, and morals to keep someone else happy, you do the opposite to yourself. As much as you may think you’re happy to sacrifice something for your partner, deep within yourself, you’re probably not. You’re giving something up that, no matter the reason, you wanted to hold onto. You’re placing someone else’s wants and needs above your own. I’ve spoken about this previously: it’s exceedingly difficult to give your full self - your time, energy, attention - to someone else, if you haven’t given yourself everything you need, first.
This is not to say you can’t give something up on your own terms, when you’re ready, before your partner asks or gives an ultimatum. The idea, though, is that you need to be ready to give something up. And when you’re ready, it’s no longer a compromise or sacrifice. It’s your decision alone - not something you do begrudgingly; something you’ll regret, or later miss.
But that’s a conversation for another day. Let’s get back to holding on to what we truly believe in before we can even think about giving something up.
We spend so much time hiding our emotions and opinions because we fear letting others down or being judged. We’ve been taught this is normal, and even expected. But if you really dig into your emotions - try to figure out what they’re telling you on a deeper level - the tables will turn. Beneath the surface (where fear exists) is where you’ll find what you really want to say.
It’s so important to allow yourself to feel and explore those emotions and be okay with them. It’s scary to admit something to yourself that you’ve been suppressing for a period of time. Because in that suppression, you lost a part of yourself.
But no matter how terrifying it is, I implore you to express those feelings to the people you care about, even if you think they’ll disagree, be sad or angry - or even if you think you’ll lose them because of if. That’s the beauty of a truly healthy relationship: you can disagree with your partner’s opinion, but still respect them for it. Allow them the space to make their own decisions without trying to change their mind, and trust that if their mind is going to change, it will be for good reason, and in their own time.
As humans, we make it a point to avoid conflict - it’s just our instinct. So naturally, when you think something you say or do will upset someone you care about, your inclination is to hide it or change it. But if your partner fundamentally disagrees with your thoughts or actions to the point it drives them away - it’s best you found out sooner than later. It truly is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. The lessons you learn about yourself through loss help form the foundation of your stronger, truer self.
Through all of the twists and turns you take - all the heartbreak, anger, and confusion you’ll inevitably experience on your journey - what really matters is that you take action to make yourself happy. Not at the expense of others or to spite them, but completely outside of their realm of existence. It’s absurd to think you would allow any one person to have more control over any aspect of your life than you, yourself do.
Don’t be afraid to make yourself happy first. Don’t be afraid to say no to something you’re sure you don’t want to do just because you think it’ll offend someone. The only way to truly be fulfilled as a person is to listen to yourself. Listen to what your gut is telling you - what your heart and brain may be screaming at you - but what you’re all too easily able to bury under fear.