Compromising in a relationship

Two pieces of general advice I give when dating or in the early stages of a new relationship are “lead and guide the interactions” and “bring them into your world”. Some people take this advice far too literally when they are actually in a relationship. Doing these two things relentlessly runs the risk of becoming a selfish, unreasonable partner.

Every healthy relationship needs compromise! Humans are extremely complex and varied creatures. No matter how suited you feel you and your partner are, you will always have differing opinions on certain things. It is unlikely you will ever have someone who always confidently agrees with you and decidedly wants to do whatever you want to do. Let’s be honest, how fun would that actually be! My general rule for compromising is:

If something doesn’t hurt me or go against my core beliefs and principles then do it.

There is more to healthy compromise though, and this article aims to break it down to its core components…

Compromising in the subconscious mind:

Our subconscious mind deals with most of the day to day responses and emotional feedback we encounter. This can either be good or bad regarding relationships, depending on how our subconscious mind has been conditioned by our unique life experiences and personal development.

A lot of couples feel that they can instinctively come to compromises on a wide variety of topics or issues without much hassle, while others find that they disagree on even the most trivial decisions. The need for compromise occurs so frequently in long-term relationships that most of it does happen subconsciously and isn’t even noteworthy, even if you fall into the second category.

The cause for any unrest that does occur while dealing with compromise though – which is also what leads to arguments – is not feeling validated or valued enough in the relationship.

Compromising with a partner is extremely easy to do, even when dealing with really big decisions. If you can overcome some of the negative emotional barriers and insecurities, the hard part is already done.

How to compromise in a relationship:

There are several general points that are useful to adopt whilst compromising with a partner, such as not going back on your word and not making compromises conditionally, where you are expecting something back in return.

Below is a diagram I have made (you can look at it like a simple equation if it makes it easier to understand) and it shows the components that lead to a happy compromise:

Gratification – Hindrance = Appreciation + Mutuality


Gratification relates to how satisfied you are with the outcome of the compromise in question and how much you enjoy pleasing your partner in this way.

Unless you are feeling signs of contempt in your relationship, you should automatically get a deep sense of fulfilment from pleasing your partner and maintaining a relationship of peace.


Hindrance refers to both how much effort it takes for you to compromise on a certain issue and how much that compromise will affect what would be your ideal, personal choice.

If a decision, feeling or action doesn’t directly affect you then any averseness towards fully compromising is almost certainly fuelled by insecurities mentioned previously in this article.


You can’t force your partner to appreciate any compromises that you make but it is a well known behavioural trait that we are more willing to do things when we feel appreciated and valued, and vice versa.


One of the most common reasons why someone will not compromise with their partner, even if the other factors are met, is that they feel they are supplicating or losing control if they do.

The actual causes of those feelings are answered elsewhere on this website but you should always feel that the compromise is mutual, a win-win situation, and that over time the degree of compromise from each of you roughly balances out. 🙂

Much love,


9 replies
  1. Joan
    Joan says:

    I like this article. It didnt ring as many alarm bells with me as some of your other articles as I think of myself as naturally very good at compromising. It just doesnt bother me if I dont get my own way. I guess growing up with 4 siblings helped with this. anyway, I very much liked how you broke down this important topic.

    One thing my husband always used to say was “compromise, not sacrifice” and I think that fits in very well with what you have written.

    I will have to get back to you if I can think of any particular examples of this in action with me.

    Tkae care

    Joan <3

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hi Joan,

      Our childhood and early development undoubtedly influences how adaptable, lenient and caring we naturally are and it’s great that you’ve learnt these indispensible skills already.

      I love your quote “compromise, not sacrifice” and I think it’s a useful concept to keep in mind, especially when making big decisions with a partner.

      I would love to hear any of your personal examples if they spring to mind sometime soon. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting,


  2. Elena
    Elena says:

    Fabulous post Sam. I think compromise is a great element to have in your relationship because you make an attempt to see things from both sides. As Joan said above, compromise not sacrifice. Sacrifice I think is when compromise is happening too much because one person in the relationship has stopped giving but keeps on taking.

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hi Elena, thanks a lot! 🙂

      Compromise is definitely best when it is done with the awareness that allows you to see the other person’s point of view, rather than compromise merely for the sake of avoiding arguments. Either way, learning to compromise cooperatively is crucial in a relationship.

      You’re right about sacrifice being where there is an imbalance between give and take, which can also lead to the unhealthy ‘controlling relationship’.

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂


  3. Emma
    Emma says:

    I agree that compromise is very important in relationships. I tend not to think about it too much as my boyfriend is very relaxed about everything which makes me relaxed too so we can always easily compromise on things. I guess if I think about it we probably do follow the method here without thinking bout it. Really enjoying this website so far. Emma

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hi Emma,

      That’s great that you and your boyfriend can come to compromises and agreements so smoothly and to be honest, a great deal of all this is subconscious conditioning from how well we connect with our partner.

      The conceptualisation in the article is still useful to bear in mind for times when compromise doesn’t happen so smoothly, due to one of the factors from the diagram being missing. Even the most perfect relationships will still occasionally find times like this and it really isn’t a problem when it does.

      Thanks for commenting, 🙂


  4. Anderson
    Anderson says:

    A good relationship never makes you actually feel like it is a ‘compromise’ …because you do things without any complain!

Comments are closed.