So you’ve met Mr. Right–or at least your friends and family think you have. Handsome, gainfully employed, considerate of others, especially you. He’s funny, thoughtful, and you have a lot of common interests. “He’s a keeper,” they insist, and you believe them. But there’s another nagging feeling rising up alongside your dreams of a long-term future with this supposed man of your dreams. The catch: you can never come to an agreement on anything without a lengthy discussion that unearths a host of fundamental differences and elicits a lot of side-eyes.
For instance, you come to the relationship with male friends. You and your male friends have always discussed each other’s romantic relationships and solicited each other’s advice. Mr. Right politely expresses that this bothers him. He’d rather you griped about your relationship to him and him alone. He’d love it if you’d cut your male friends off altogether, but understands that’s too drastic a request–so how about just not hanging out with them solo anymore? At first you’re unwilling to budge. The guy friends were in your life before he was, after all, and they’ll likely be there after him, if he keeps showing these possessive red flags.
Then you think about all the people who are encouraging you to work things out with him. “He’s a keeper” echoes after every disagreement. “Meet him halfway,” a girlfriend advises, “That’s all he’s asking.”
So you do. But it turns out he’s like this about a lot of things. His hope for an ideal partner is someone who doesn’t make decisions he finds unsettling. And he finds a lot of your decisions unsettling: a low-cut blouse here, a backless dress there, an out-of-town school or job opportunity, a vacation with with your girls instead of with him.
On the one hand, you find it a bit flattering that he wants to be a part of your decision-making process; he wants the two of you to be a team. He’s practicing for when you’ll make a more permanent commitment. On the other hand, you’re being asked to give up a lot of your autonomy to be in this relationship. Is it worth it? Are his requests that you not only consider his feelings, but also allow those feelings to influence your final decisions, a dealbreaker? Or are these discussions and your resistance to them a sign of your unwillingness to compromise?
We’d all like to believe that our partner should accept us exactly as we are, that we shouldn’t have change one whit of who we are to accommodate anyone else’s feelings or wishes. But every relationship will require some give-and-take, some amendment to the way that you did things before you were coupled. But how much compromise is too much? How long before the person looking back at you from the mirror or the voice you hear coming out of your mouth no longer resembles you? Everyone’s threshold for adaptation is different.
So what are some of your personal guidelines for when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em with a guy who’s asking you to make some changes?