The Art of Compromise

The Art of Compromise

The Art of Compromise

When I say ‘Compromise’, how do you feel? Do you see it as strength or weakness? Do you feel less than because you compromised?

Notice that I did not say – forced to compromise. If anything is forced I consider that a bad thing. Forced means it will eventually break.

In my days as an attorney, arbitrator and mediator we used to talk about reaching a win, win situation. That’s when the parties to a dispute both walked away from a situation with a win. It often required out of the box thinking and coming up with off the chart solutions.

Compromise is supposed to be something strong, not weak and yet when I asked you how the word made you feel, most of us would say that it makes our guts ache. It makes me feel like I am giving something up, that I am doing something I don’t want to do and in the long run it just wears me out.

Every day we compromise in millions of different ways. From the cereal we eat for breakfast to where we will spend religious holidays. Why is it much easier to say yes than it is to say no?

Do we say yes just because we fear what the retaliation will be if we say no? Is it the fear of a fight or the sulking or having to explain? Why is it easier to say yes when every cell in your body is screaming no? In the long run this compromise is not sustainable and will negatively affect your relationship. You are selling yourself short and you will eventually destroy your soul.

There is a difference between compromise and settling. With compromise there should be a win, win outcome. With settling there never is. One of you is always going to eventually hate the situation.

But why am I talking about compromise in a column about sex and relationships? Because when all is said and done a relationship does not survive without compromise.

We all have different desires, fantasies, drives and libido levels. Some of us want monogamy, others an open relationship or swinging. Some of us want to explore different positions and alternative sexual expression. More often than not our partners want something else. I have seen more than one relationship implode because we agree to terms that we think we can change later on when the deal is done. It is a doomed strategy!

We make concessions for all sorts of reasons. Mostly because we have this inexplicable need to be wanted and to appease our partners, family or friends. It’s rubbish but how can we change it?

How do we get to win win in our relationships? We negotiate.

Life and relationships are all about compromise and for compromise to be something which requires give and take we need to be skillful negotiators. Most women are never taught how to negotiate. Women seldom negotiate their salaries, promotions or terms of their relationships. We don’t believe we have the power.

Failing to negotiate sees us doing thing we would rather not. I watch the dating scene and see how much women are prepared to compromise to get the second date. Now I am all for being a liberated woman but I have to ask is this not a compromise too far?

Maybe the question should be who are you doing this for and why? Is it easier simply to say yes and then justify your choice after or stand your ground and say no? Are you compromising because you can and want to or are you capitulating because you feel you have no other choice?

Withholding sex should never be a strategy, it never ends well. Negotiating what we want out of sex is often fraught with complications but it has to be done and it has to be done honestly. But how can it be honest if you cannot even be honest with yourself?

Which brings me back the relationship and the compromises, you make with yourself. How much of who you are have you suppressed or changed for your partner? Are you strong enough to say no regardless of the consequences?

If you are then you’re braver than many of us and I congratulate you. If not I think it’s time we all did a course on the art of negotiation. Anybody want in?

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