January 14, 2014

Ask Licia: Relationship Compromise No More.

Dear Licia,

I am going through one of the most difficult periods of my life!

I have been in a relationship with my roommate/landlord (!!!) for seven months now, only the second longest relationship of my life, and I’ve been  stressed and have even been asked if I am bipolar due to my current mood swings.

I am generally a happy and motivated person.

We started going out in June, and of course the beginning was flowers and fun. We had a rough first weekend out though—Jay has always been an open and in the moment person, which I knew and respected him for. Not expecting anything serious, I made plans to go to a music festival with another friend, and he decided to come along. At the festival, we spent some time together but mostly he hung out with another female friend of his. Knowing him, I left it at that. After the weekend, he said he wanted to be my boyfriend and I happily accepted.

Then, after the first month and a half, I found myself having a panic attack about what he was doing while I was at work. In a low move, I looked through his phone and found a ‘joking’ text to the girl from the festival about climbing up her blouse.

I have a lot of tenderness and emotion wrapped up in this person and I want to trust him very much.

I was very happy with him even after we talked about this and still had some good experiences. He is still very much himself and wants to be able to express himself to other women and talks about how it’s natural to have relationships with sexual tension without acting on it.

He also travels a lot for work and is often in the company of polyamorous women, and brings up things like how it’s possible to have cuddle companions that are a totally different situations than having a long term committed relationship with one person. He doesn’t focus on this, it’s really only come up once but I haven’t been able to let it go. His freedom to communicate with women on this level is important to him.

I guess I have become pretty insecure over the duration of the relationship and have found myself having panic attacks far more frequently. I’m constantly questioning his loyalties and honesty, which is creating huge rifts in our relationship.

I start fights more and more frequently about these things and I find myself being defensive and bring up old issues in arguments. I’m just not comfortable with how he relates to other women and don’t know how to trust in a future with him although he doesn’t lie to me.

He’s a good man and I want the best for both of us, I just think we want different levels of openness in our relationships and don’t know if we can find a happy medium with each other.

How do we compromise while still both getting what we need?

Thank you, please!



Dear Megan,

Before I go further I want to rephrase your question from “How do we compromise while both still getting what we need?” to “How can we both get our needs met?”—the reason being that compromise is a misused term in relationships.

Compromise is an illusion.

Compromise belongs in video stores and restaurant decisions. Pizza toppings and questions of whose turn to pay.

It does not belong in the bedroom, in an argument or in your day-to-day. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advising selfishness or self-serving behavior, I am merely stating that when we compromise, we give up parts of ourselves that need to be considered as we gather speed in our relationships.

What start as small bends end up being giant sweeping sways.

When we compromise, we begin to go slightly bonkers. We start to exhibit behaviors in which we have not exhibited before. We do this because there is a loss of self that chimes in as our sense of self worth disapates.

As our voice weakens.

An inability to hold firm to what we know to be our truth takes hold and we start to slide down an ice luge of slippery regret.

Each time we are convinced that when we give way to “compromise” our efforts will make our situation stronger and more balanced when, in fact, all that really happens is parts of us die away. We let go of our hopes and our relationships become ghosts of what we once thought they could be. We drive ourselves crazy wondering why we feel so distraught never realizing that each need we give away takes away from the strength of the love that we share.

So Megan, my advice to you is this: Think long and hard about what works and does not work for you in relationship. One by one tick off the pros and cons and maybes. See what feels good and what feels bad. Understand that you can (and are completely within bounds) to ask that your boyfriend hold off on “cuddling” his polyamourous friends, because after seven months, that makes you uncomfortable. Be aware that he may not like it and he may fight you on it and if that is the case you then have to ask yourself is it worth it—maybe it is and maybe it isn’t—but my guess is there are plenty of guys out there who would want to cuddle companion you instead of others.

You might be surprised when you find your voice again.

Compromise RIP.




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Editor: Catherine Monkman

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