Relocate? Change Jobs, Friends, Habits? How Far Should You Go For Your Partner?
When you’re single, you make all the choices. How you spend your time, who you hang out with, how much you work and how much you play … it’s all up to you.
But when you have a partner in your life, these things change. From small things like what brand of cereal you buy and which show or movie you watch on Sunday nights to big things like where you live and how you spend your free time.
It’s not rare that this scenario comes up—Simply put: They want something … and you want something else that directly contradicts what they want. Here are a few common examples:
- They want to live in a different state (or even a different country) either because of a job, or family ties, or just because.
- They think your job takes up too much of your time, and they want you to consider changing.
- They don’t like that you smoke or drink.
- They want to start hanging out with a couple who you don’t like.
- They want to practice a religion you don’t agree with.
- They think you should lose weight or eat healthier.
- They don’t like going out so much on the weekends and want to stay in.
As you can see, these issues range from not so worrisome to pretty heavy. In other words, some of these things can safely be maneuvered without having to do too much changing. After all, compromising on your choice of film at the movies isn’t so bad every once in a while. We can all agree on that.
But what happens when the thing that your partner wants or doesn’t want really affects you?
Do you cave? Do you change? Do you stand your ground? Asking yourself the following questions will help navigate the situation and give you a better idea of how you should move forward.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Change Something Big in Your Life for a Partner
1: What are they asking for?
Sit down and assess what it is they are exactly asking for. Sometimes, a partner will express that they want you or both of you to change in some way but they won’t give details. They might say “I don’t like the way we spend our weekends,” but you need to know what that means. Sometimes, this entails simply putting the question out there and asking for more specific information about what they desire.
2: How important is it to you?
Once you see exactly what the issue at hand is … you need to figure out how important it is to you. Decide if it’s worth all the fuss. For example, if they want you to start being home from work at a certain time so that you can spend more quality time together, this is not the same as asking you to relocate for their own job.
3: Is there a true benefit to you as well?
Getting home earlier might help you too. Just because it was their idea, don’t shun it at first glance. Then again, if what they are asking goes directly against what you believe, feel, or want (i.e. Changing religions, changing jobs), this is more serious.
4: Are they willing to meet you halfway?
If they want to move from New York to Denver, but you don’t want to go that far away from home, will they settle with Chicago? This is just an example. See if they are willing to do any compromising.
5: Have they compromised in other ways for you?
Maybe they are making this ask to you now because they have been very willing to compromise in the past, and that should make a difference as you assess the situations.
6: Is it a deal breaker for either of you?
Decide if this decision is a deal breaker, meaning, it’s something that if it doesn’t work out in your favor … you will have trouble going on with the relationship. Or vice versa for your partner.
7: Have you had a serious discussion about it?
Once you answer all these questions, if the ask is still something that’s bothering you, you need to have a serious discussion about it. This may seem obvious, but we mean a serious, calm discussion … not a knock-down drag out fight. Set some ground rules, set aside a time, make some lists, talk like adults. Be compassionate, and listen to each other.
Digging Deep to Realize Your True Motives
Aside from considering the questions above, one of the biggest things to think about when it comes to making changes in your life because of what your partner either wants or doesn’t want … is what your motivations are.
That is, if your true motivation for not wanting to relocate, or start hanging out with new people, or engaging in whatever situation … is that you feel like you’re losing a part of yourself, remember that that’s not a bad thing.
Even though it is immensely important to be able to compromise in your relationship, you need to make sure that you’re holding onto who you are as an individual. Losing yourself in a relationship can be detrimental not only to your own emotional health, but also to the stability of the relationship, believe it or not.
This is because the ideal relationship is one where two individuals who are able to be stable and happy on their own … come together.
We’re not saying that you should never change yourself. Because it’s good to be flexible. But changing too much is really a dangerous game. Think about it: If you two ever do part ways in the future, you do not want to be left saying, “Who the heck am I?”
That’s why this is always going to be a difficult balancing act. With fine lines and indecision.
The best thing you can do is to be thoughtful about the big decisions by calmly and warmly talking things out with your partner. Be willing to compromise on your part, and ask for compromise on their part as well. In the end, this is the best that any of us can do. We hope this advice works for you as you move into the future.