Sacrifice or Settling?

Sometimes it can be hard to know if you are making a healthy sacrifice in a relationship or settling for something you shouldn’t.  Everyone has differences and every relationship requires sacrifice.  It is good to know yourself to figure out whether you can make a change in yourself to make the relationship better or whether you should look for someone who doesn’t need you to change.

For example, often extroverted people get in relationships with introverted people.  Opposites attract right?  Well to make a relationship work between these two will require some sacrifice.  Extroverted people by nature have a lot of good friends.  They tend to act very friendly even with semi-strangers.  They get bored with hanging out at home and like to schedule lots of social activities.  An introverted person by nature has only a few close friends.  They don’t act friendly with people unless they know them very well.  They mostly like to chill at home and feel stressed when a lot of social activities are scheduled.

You can see how this may cause some problems.  An introverted person may feel like “one of many” or not special to their extroverted partner.  They see their boyfriend or girlfriend hugging and talking to everyone and may feel left out.  They may also come off as jealous because they don’t want their boyfriend or girlfriend to go out all the time or because they make comments about how their boyfriend or girlfriend flirts too much.  They may tend to follow their extroverted partner around at parties where they don’t know anyone.  This may make the extroverted person feel smothered or guilty because they have to entertain their partner all the time.

In order to make this work both people have to make sacrifices.  If you are an introvert, you have to be able to trust your partner to go out without you.  They need their friends and other social contacts.  This doesn’t mean they don’t love you.  Their needs are different than yours.  You would be content to spend a lot of your time with them and very little time with your few other friends.  This is not the case for your boyfriend or girlfriend.  They may want more time with their friends.  You will also have to be willing to go out more than you would like.  Also be aware that your extroverted partner is going to be friendly to everyone around them.  This doesn’t mean they want to hook up with everyone.  If you can feel more secure in yourself and the relationship, it may make it easier for you to watch your boyfriend or girlfriend talk to anyone and everyone.

If you are an extrovert, you  have to be willing to engage in more down time.  Your introverted partner isn’t trying to keep you home because they don’t trust you.  It’s because they need more quiet time to recover from the stress of school or work.  They love having one on one time with you as well.  You may think if your introverted partner just had more friends or activities in their life they wouldn’t “need” you so much.  This isn’t true.  They don’t need you, it is just that when they let someone get really close to them, they want to spend the majority of their time with that person.  They don’t need or want to have more friends, or fill up their time with tons of activities.  If you cherish your independence and time with other friends, try to find other ways to make your introverted partner feel special.  Understand that it may be hard for them to watch you be so friendly with everyone.  They need to work on feeling more secure, but it helps if you can do a few extra things to help them know how much you love them.

Sometimes relationships like this can’t work out.  For some people it is too much of a sacrifice or they feel they have to change too much to make the other person happy.  Get to know yourself and know what you can and can’t handle in a relationship.  It is okay to admit you may need someone who is more like you in this area.  What one person can be flexible with and tolerate, another person can’t.  No one can tell you when your settling in a relationship.  It will become obvious if you start to build up a lot of resentment.  The above example is just one way couples are different.  Some people who are laid back and impulsive are with someone who is very organized and plans way in advance.  This couple will have to make other types of sacrifices.  I always say, “If it isn’t one thing, it will be another, no relationship is perfect.”  You may be able to be with someone who is opposite in one way, but can’t handle being opposite in other ways.  That is whole point of dating…to find out what works and what doesn’t.

Just remember the key is trying to understand where the other person is coming from.  Understand they may not be doing something to you just to drive you crazy.  It may just be because they are different than you and therefore, have different needs in a relationship.  It may help you to come out of your comfort zone and try different things.  If you are in a relationship with someone who has opposite characteristics, try to learn from them and appreciate the differences.  Hopefully it won’t be too hard to compromise.  However, if it becomes too difficult or stressful for you to be in the relationship, admit that and do your best to move on from there.

4 comments on “Sacrifice or Settling?

  1. You bring up a really important issue for couples and your blog is really thoughtful. I’m thinking that the most successful couples know how to manage their differences so that each person feels like he/she can be completely and fully themselves (if you are finding that the difference are too great or you cant figure out how to deal with or get around them, then settling may have some serious consequences for your happiness and mental health). I sometimes question the idea of sacrificing in a couple to meet one’s partner’s needs (why do we think sacrifice is a good,necessary thing?). Particularly in the case of the introvert/extrovert dilemma. Because introverts are the minority in this culture, we are usually the ones who are asked to change the most. I wonder if it would be possible in a couple to do their own thing socially or not put expectations on the other person to change his/her behavior because it may make the other person uncomfortable/jealous/tired. I really believe that much of our unhappiness in relationships revolves around the unrealistic expectations we put on other people to meet our needs/be more like us/act the way we think they should act, etc. Most of the time we think these expectations are completely normal and justified because they are so ingrained, but it’s important to think about where our expectations come from and notice how arbitrary they are. One way to examine our expectations is to ask ourselves what we believe about how couples should behave (couples must put the other person before his/her friends; couples should share everything including a bed; couples cannot have a best friend of the opposite sex; couples must spend time with each others family….). Who says?

    • Cara, thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate your insight. I agree about the unrealistic expectations and how that impacts your own happiness in a relationship. Sometimes its really healthy to be open to differences and to challenge your own beliefs at times. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Pingback: Do You Have The Right To Your Own Private Space In A Relationship? | Archemdis's Blog

  3. Pingback: What Is A Healthy Relationship | Boundaries in Relationships

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