People often tell me the advice they’ve gotten is to learn the art of compromise. They’ve heard it’s a necessity for successful long-term relationships.
Compromise is a consequence of lone-rangering. Someone has a plan of their own devising… then gets upset when their partner isn’t onboard… then labels that “having to compromise.”
And yes, that’s going to generate tension in the relationship.
But the opposite of lone-rangering isn’t compromise, it’s co-creation.
Anything that affects or involves both parties is co-created. From what to eat for dinner… to when to conceive a child.
Coming up with the plan in a vacuum, then shaking one’s fist at one’s partner for not being down with the plan, is the perfect example of what not to do.
“Compromise” is a euphemism for “I’m not going to get what I want” that comes from the part of us that’s still operating in bachelor / bachelorette mode inside the relationship.
The only things anyone ever feels like they have to “compromise” on are things they came up with on their own, in isolation.
To put it another way: your partner is unlikely to argue with you over something you both came up with together.
Most importantly, “compromise” represents a missed opportunity, the opportunity inherent in relationship.
Because what two people co-create together can surpass what either of them could ever conceive of or manifest on their own.
That’s the whole reason anyone would choose life partnership over life alone.
I want to make sure what I’m saying here is understood:
Let’s say you, alone, come up with your most ideal possible vision. Your partner passively agrees to every detail. The two of you set out to implement everything you envisioned. And you succeed.
Even that seemingly idillic outcome is inferior to what two people—the two of you—are capable of coming up with together, starting with a completely blank slate and working from scratch, bringing your respective creative juices, your different strengths and weaknesses, your different ways of seeing and doing things, and yes, even your disagreements.
I just don’t think you chose your partner because they were the most agreeable, accommodating, opinion-free sidekick / assistant to help you realize your vision. More likely they brought something to the party that you don’t have, something intriguing. Your differences brought you together.
Well two heads are better than one. What you co-create together can surpass even the best of what one of you can devise on your own. It’s not compromise and it doesn’t feel like compromise. It feels like collaborative synergy.
So the real work here isn’t learning to compromise. It’s shedding the remnants of lone-ranger mentality that had you thinking, planning, and attaching in isolation on areas that involve both of you.
Whenever you come to a fork in the road where the only visible paths have big flashing neon signs that read “Compromise,” often somewhere in the vicinity is an overlooked option that neither of you, alone, would ever see or come up with. Only through collaboration is it revealed, and it’s better than any of your individual proposals up to now. Put your heads together, get into collaborative spirit, get creative, and play.
In other words, instead of compromising, co-create.