Compromise – guilty misadventure or art?

Being a woman of a certain age I have made my share of compromises and observed numerous others doing likewise. I am thinking of this particularly as it relates to relationship. Whether it be in the realm of family, friendship or the relationship of a more intimate and exclusive other, compromise is often involved in its maintenance.

This would all be good and well were it not for our romantic idealism. With such high expectations comes a level of both internal and external scrutiny (and consequent judgment) that either burdens us with guilty feelings of perceived failure on our part, and/or sets our sights on condemning this perceived failure in others.

I don’t think any of this is truly helpful when it comes to the project of living the fullness of our humanity, of cultivating a stronger sense of compassion and understanding where this is concerned. Life is messy. There will be compromise.

What if instead of condemning compromise and associating it with a failure to thrive, we shifted our perspective and considered how it might become an art that allows us all to thrive?

What I mean is that it is inevitable that others will disappoint us and we will disappoint them falling far short of both their own and our own expectations. That being the case perhaps a more artful approach to dealing with our behaviour and responses to the behaviour of others toward us, is a good and sensible thing. Instead of disposing of our relationships in the name of not compromising ourselves, why not consider repairing or re-purposing them? Why not choose to acknowledge and honour the value in our relationships rather than writing them off altogether? It’s easy to think that we can simply thrive as ‘rugged individualists’, but the truth is we are each inextricably interdependent – we NEED one another in order to thrive.

We live in a throw-away society and it could be that the tendency to avoid compromise in our relationships is influenced and shaped by this phenomenon. It’s time to question this. Throwing a relationship out should be a last resort, not our modus operandi in the quest for a perfection that we ourselves are incapable of living up to.