To go by popular culture, there’s nothing as important as a romantic relationship. Relationship has also become shorthand for a romantic relationship and it’s implied that every sacrifice should be made to keep one going. That’s bad advice. Relationships require both compromise and sacrifice. Compromise is when both people take steps toward each other to achieve equilibrium and iron out their differences. Sacrifice is when one partner makes all the changes required to make the relationship work. Relationships call for both, however, there are things you should never sacrifice, not even for love. Here are a few of the key ones.
1. Your freedom
Freedom is the right to act, speak or think as one wants. It’s the absence of coercion or constraint in choice or action. You should never sacrifice your freedom to make your own choice on everything from the big things like your career to the small things like your clothing and all else in between. Possessive behaviour, for example, limiting your movements is not an indicator of love, it’s an indicator of insecurity. Freedom here also includes your financial independence. You should never be forced to sacrifice that for the success of the relationship.
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2. Your values
Your values and your beliefs make you who you are. If your partner forces you to compromise who you are, they may not be the best person for you. A good partner is one who will honour your values and respect the boundaries you have set without deliberately attempting to push them. Find someone whose beliefs and value systems align with yours to avoid being pressured to make this sacrifice. Be yourself unapologetically. Sacrificing your beliefs and values will only deplete your self-worth and self-respect.
3. Your happiness
Your partner should bring more joy to your life. If all they do is drag you down and make you feel sad and unworthy, perhaps you should consider letting that relationship go. Granted, your partner is human, and they will not always be in a great mood. However, if they are intentionally hurting you and causing you pain and suffering, it may be best to walk away. You should also not feel pressured to give up activities that bring you joy such as hobbies and general interests.
4. Your dreams
There’s a societal expectation placed on women especially, to place their partners’ dreams, ambitions, and needs before their own and make the sacrifice should it ever come to that. The stories of women giving up their careers are ubiquitous. An ideal partnership is one in which people support each other. They may have different dreams but they cheer each other on. If you are with someone who doesn’t support your dreams, and in fact expects you to sacrifice yours entirely, you may be with the wrong person.
5. Your free time
During the early days of a relationship, you may obsessively want to spend time together, that’s normal. However, over time you should both have some free time to yourself without feeling guilty or having to explain it to your partner. Time spent apart is healthy. You need time to yourself, time to hang out with other people, and just do whatever else you want with your time.
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6. Your friends and family
Anyone who tries to come between you and the support system that existed before them i.e. your friends and family is suspect. One strategy that abusive people employ is isolating the person so that they no longer have their support system. You should not be forced to sacrifice your friends and family. If your partner is requiring that, they may be a narcissist.
It’s always important to keep in mind that relationships end and that that is not a moral failure. It’s just life. Things end. Everything comes to an end. One divorce lawyer was fond of saying relationships end whether through death or some other way. But they end. Keeping this in mind will help you keep in mind the important things that should never be sacrificed just for a relationship, romantic or not. Make sure your relationship is one with compromise not always one-sided sacrifice.
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