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About FCKING Time: You Learned The Art Of Compromise

There’s lots of things that I really hate. Queuing. Being patient. People who don’t reply to my messages and checking my bank balance. But the one I resent most of all is the idea that I have to compromise.

We were raised on the Disney Channel myth that “If you just dream big and work hard, one day your dreams will come true.” In truth, that’s complete bollocks. And those of us who graduated into a recession¬†and spent our days making coffee for men who tried to grab our arses were very quickly disillusioned about the idea that we can have our heart’s desires.

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Yet for some reason, there’s an area where we haven’t learned the art of the¬†compromise. And that’s in our relationships. We’re told to expect, to demand the best of the best when it comes to a romantic partner, and the idea of a compromise doesn’t enter in at all. We’re labouring under the impression that we “deserve” to be treated like Princesses. And I’m not sure it’s making us any happier.

I’ve heard girlfriends reject a second date because their perspective partner wanted to split the bill, because he had a bad haircut, because he sipped his drink too loudly. We reject people at the first hurdle before we get a chance to get to know them, and maybe even fall in love with them, for totally arbitrary reasons.

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Arranged marriages get a bad rep, and you can see why. The idea of being married off to a total stranger is pretty scary. But in the western world they’ve got a really high success rate. It turns out that your parents assessing you and thinking about who would be right for you actually isn’t a disastrous way to meet someone for lots of women. And what’s more, when your only option is to commit to your partner and make your marriage work, you make it work. You don’t go home after your first date and obsess over the way he ate tagliatelli, you work hard at finding the aspects in each other that do work.

Whilst I’m not advocating asking your parents to take over your Tinder, I am saying something that might sound unkind or even unfeminist. But if you’re single and you want to find someone, then it’s possible that you might need to reassess what is really important to you.Kindness and a sense of humour might not be something you’ll compromise on, but minimum salaries or specific hair colours? You might just be setting yourself up to fail.

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And it’s no better if you manage to make it past the dating stage and in to an actual relationship. I once told my friends that I was staying in a relationship because I was happy 40% of the time, and I thought that was enough. As it turns out I was completely and utterly wrong, and when I eventually moved on, I found a relationship where I was happy a much more impressive 80-ish % of the time. But that’s still not 100% of the time. And I don’t make him happy 100% of time either. Because we’re both human, we both get moody and grumpy and tired. And it’s still a brilliant relationship.

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The danger of this myth, that we should never compromise, that we should expect our partner to make us happy 100% of the time, is that we’re putting ourselves under crippling pressure to be happy all of the time and when we do struggle we’re labouring under the misapprehension that our relationship is doomed. Struggling doesn’t mean it’s broken. Struggling means that it’s time to asses, take stock and think about what you might need to be differently. As the old saying goes, “When the lightbulb blows, you don’t sell the entire house.”

Rebecca is Editor-in-Chief of AFT. Erstwhile freelancer, serial manicurist, feminist and period drama enthusiast. She's spent most of her life talking about sex, so she decided to make a career out of it. Follow her on twitter @AFTRebecca for Taylor Swift elegies and pictures of her manicures.