I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this topic recently because I’ve noticed that it comes up quite a bit in my sessions with clients. Both those in romantic relationships and those looking to be in one. What I’ve come to learn is that each of us have certain values that are non-negotiable. That means that no matter how much we try or wish it to be different, there are aspects of ourselves that are just a part of who we are.
Working in the area of self-help and development, the focus is often on changing ourselves. We are usually encouraged to change our beliefs, our thoughts, our behaviours and our perspectives. This in general can be a good thing. Most of us are holding onto beliefs, thought patterns, behaviours and perspectives that no longer serve us and keep us from living our best lives. However, I have noticed that with the desire for self-improvement, some of us have come to believe that we need to change every part of ourselves, particularly if we want to find love or stay in our relationships.
While it is true that compromise is a corner-stone to a healthy, functional relationship, this doesn’t mean that we should not hold onto the core of who we are. We all need certain things to be present in our relationships in order to feel safe and most conflict results from either partner feeling unsafe in the relationship.
For example, take money, which tends to be a hot button issue for most couples. If you are a person who finds it very important to manage your money responsibly - such as following a budget, making sure not to spend more money then you earn, not carrying debts, etc. No matter how much self-exploration you do, this will likely always be an aspect of who you are. There are ways that you can become less rigid about money, but, no matter what, you’re probably always going to be conscious and responsible with it. As a result, I would consider this aspect of you to be a non-negotiable. I think it would be a disservice to yourself and your partner to pretend like you can change that part of who you are. Instead, it would be more beneficial to embrace that part of yourself so you can be honest with yourself and your partner/potential partner.
I don’t mean in a “f&%$ you” sort of way, but in a compassionate, self-aware sort of way. Speaking to your partner/potential partner honestly, without shame about who you are and not needing them to be the same way. By being honest about your non-negotiables, you can set the stage for a discussion about where the true opportunity is for compromise, as opposed to pretending that you can be who you are not.
What this might look like in the above example is if you are the money conscious person and your partner/potential partner is not, you would be honest about that and hopefully s/he can also be honest about who they are. Then, you both can decide what financial arrangement would work best for your relationship. This could mean having a joint account where joint household expenses come out and you each contribute an amount towards. While at the same time, you each have your own separate accounts that you manage as you see fit. Another possibility, could involve you primarily managing the joint finances but allowing your partner to have some freedom to spend or take risks with a portion of money. There are numerous other creative possibilities. It doesn’t matter what the arrangement is, it just has to be an arrangement that honours who you both are and takes into account the fact that each of you have parts of yourself that are fundamental to who you are – i.e. non-negotiable.
I’ve noticed many people get into trouble in relationships because in the beginning they were more focused on finding love than on being honest about who they are and attempting to find a partner who can accept that. While I appreciate wanting to put your “best foot” forward in order to attract a partner, you are more likely to save yourself heart-ache and frustration if you can be yourself up-front. At least then you know the person is attracted to the “real” you, instead of who you’ve mislead them to believe you are.
I would love to hear from you about your non-negotiables. Please respond in the comment section below.
My passion is to help people discover their truth, so if you’re curious about how I can help you on that journey, please reach out and send me a message to book a free 30-minute consult.
Looking forward to connecting!