Tags: being hard on yourself, compromise in relationships, emotional needs, feeling unworthy, having standards in relationships, self-critical, self-forgiveness, selling yourself short in relationships, settling for crumbs, unmet needs

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Before I was aware of my people-pleasing ways, I would always find a reason to justify compromising myself. It was a “great opportunity” or it seemed “urgent”. Maybe this person could be the “love of my life”. It’s best not to burn bridges, eh? Future Nat will deal with any issues. Maybe they’ve changed? Doesn’t everyone deserve a second (or hundredth) chance? If I don’t do this, I’ll wind up living in a cardboard box by the weekend. It’s not great and I feel icky about it, but it will do for now. Well, it’s better than being alone.

Now, the thing about compromising yourself is that even if you deceive you while doing so, when the doo-doo hits the proverbial fan and things don’t shake out as you hoped, you’re really hard on yourself. You find it hard to forgive you as you deal with the consequences of your decisions, which might simply be your shame and lack of self-trust.

Mistaking ‘compromise’ for accepting less than who you really are and want to be is a trap. If the other person’s advancing their self-interest at your expense while calling it ‘mutual’, or they’re quite simply in exactly the situation they want, it’s not a compromise! They haven’t had to compromise jack! It’s only you that’s compromised yourself.

Unless you’re in literal dire straits, so, I don’t know, you need a kidney or it’s ‘this’ or homelessness or being in danger, don’t compromise yourself.

To be clear, I’m not saying don’t compromise, which is finding a solution you can both live with if possible. Do that where appropriate. I’m saying don’t compromise your values, who you are, what matters to you, your needs and boundaries. The short-term benefit of having the company/attention of someone who’s emotionally unavailable or certainly not available for the type of relationship you need or want does not outweigh the medium to long-term consequences. This is especially when you know that you need and want more than what you’re settling for.

You might think, Well, if I do the equivalent of accepting the lower-paid job now, it will pay off with a promotion. I have a foot in with the company. That can sometimes work well in business, but it.does.not.work in your interpersonal relationships. Start as you mean to go on instead of having to convince and convert someone into the basics.

There’s rarely a genuinely good justification for accepting the bad deal of compromising yourself. It has to be a short-term bad deal that doesn’t give you a medium to long-term hangover. We can all get away with compromising ourselves occasionally (and learning from it), but we can’t do it as a lifestyle.

Remember, with a short-term mindset, you will keep saying yes to instant gratification and what doesn’t actually work for you. You’ll repeatedly take the bad deal because you’re afraid there isn’t any deal beyond the moment. It’s the ‘some crumbs are better than no crumbs’ mentality. But you can’t make great deals with people and situations that compromise you, or where you’re willing to do that to you.

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