Change vs compromise: 7 important things to consider
How often do we hear – or say – “I’m not going to change for anyone”, “I am who I am”, or “This is me and if you can’t deal with me, move on”? The idea of making changes to ourselves can feel like compromise – but should it? How does this work when dating – are we expected to change for someone? Should they change for us? Or can we remain exactly as we are, no matter what?
We need to think about change vs compromise. It’s absolutely valid to know who you are – circumstances have led you to be the person you are today and you don’t want to make the same mistakes as you may have previously done. But it’s more important to have confidence in who you are in God, and allow God in on the process of change and growth.
The idea of changing ‘for’ someone is scary and deserves serious thought. It can make us more defensive and stubborn in wanting to stay exactly as we are. Likewise, we should not enter a relationship in order to ‘change’ someone. They can’t be our project, and it’s not fair to them or healthy. However, when is it right to realise you must change?
When you go on a first date it helps to appreciate that you are two completely different people, leading separate lives and with differing interests. Remember that when you enter a relationship there is a joining and a unification that needs to take place. That includes change.
Personally, I am not good with change. I find change hard in circumstances around me – people moving away, changes in jobs, even different furniture arrangement all take a long time for me to come to terms with. I’m better at change within myself, but it is never going to be easy. It is worthwhile, though.
Focus on character and growth
We are constantly changing. The person you were ten years ago is not the same person you are now, and it would be worrying if you were. Things happen around us that help us to grow and mature, and people can help with this too.
If you are determined not to change who you are when in a relationship, then your walls will be up and this can lead to conflict. Being open to positive change when dating is a good thing – let someone bring out the best in you.
Look at your circumstances
A developing relationship will bring its own changes. Where will you eventually live? Are the hours you work compatible for a healthy relationship? Are you willing to make changes to make things work in the long term? My job of performing on stage has been so much a part of who I am, it’s not just a job. Never did I think that I would take a break from performing for someone, but circumstances change. Our hours were polar opposites and we never saw each other.
When we first started dating, leaving my job was an absolute non-negotiable. I would not have even contemplated that change and I would have even thought it was a red flag should someone suggest that. My (now) husband never asked me to spend more time with him ever, it was my decision, but that change came about circumstantially and personally.
I have grown so much for the better as a wife, as a Christian and in myself since getting my priorities in order. This example is just what has worked for us, but each person has their own ways that change can be a good thing.
Be alert to red flags
If you feel pressure to completely change your character, then I would query if this is the relationship for you! Be careful if you are the only one changing, too. You don’t want to lose or completely change who you are! (Unless you want to change, that is.)
If someone is asking you to change your character, your boundaries, your opinions, and still after hearing your side, not respecting you in any way, then I would say be very careful as to whether you want to continue dating that person.
Self-Loving Versus Selfless
Going from singleness into a relationship, you will each need to learn to put the other person first, thinking about their feelings and emotions before making decisions. Being single, you can do what you want, (within reason!) when you want, on your terms. Being in a relationship means thinking about the other person and seeking their opinions too.
This is part of change vs compromise. Of course, it’s hard at the beginning, you haven’t yet transitioned to being in a relationship, so the thought of changing is not forefront. However, to be emotionally mature in a relationship, you need to be willing to compromise and learn to think of the other person’s needs.
Acknowledge different Interests
You will start to change and recognise different interests. I have friends who have opened themselves up to new music tastes and culinary tastes since dating someone, which they would see as enhancing their lives.
Personally, since knowing my husband, my eyes have been opened to different film genres, board games, and I’d like to hope I’m a kinder and more patient version of my former self. My husband has learnt to appreciate ‘Pride and Prejudice’, afternoon tea and musical theatre – these additions to our lives have helped us both to be more enriched.
It is good to have differing interests, rather than being with a carbon copy of yourself, as this means you can learn about something new, you have something to talk about, and you have time for yourself doing something you love too.
Work out where you need to compromise
Compromise is necessary when dating and in a relationship. For a relationship to work, you both need to be open to compromise and adjust. This does not necessarily mean changing everything, but compromises need to be made on your time, your money, effort and sometimes your way of thinking, seeing things from both sides.
Hold onto your boundaries for safety, but adjusting your mindset to another way of thinking is vital. Compromises are likely to happen from the moment you start dating.
Embrace the new
Change can be good. Sometimes we don’t realise we are changing till after it has happened. This is a gradual joining of two people over dates and into a relationship. It’s not about losing yourself but enhancing yourself. Change should come to make a better version of you, relationships should bring out the best in you, not the worst.
When we are in relationships, our sharp corners are gently chiselled away. God can change hearts, but we need to be open to compromise. The older I grew as a single, the more set in my ways I became, the less I was willing and sometimes able to change. But with God’s help, I’ve been chiselled into a better person through a man who helps me see the good in me, but also helps me to strive to be a better version of me.
Sometimes that means I need to change. But mostly it means I need to compromise and adjust to being a couple. I’m not changing myself completely and it’s not one sided…we are both compromising and adjusting to make it work. It fails when you don’t allow God to work in your heart and when you are doing it alone and not as a team.
I would say that we’re not called to change at the beginning of dating. Compromises will need to occur, but changes can come naturally when God is leading you both. Compromises and adjustments to characters and circumstances may have to happen straight away to make a relationship work, but circumstantial change happens further down the line, when you are secure in who you are as a couple.
Complete change from the beginning means the person is not right for you. As you contemplate change vs compromise, let God do the changing, and you do the compromising. Seek God’s will and let Him change you more into Christ’s image.
What do you think of change vs compromise? Have you made changes in your life?
Read more by Hannah Grace here.