Generally speaking, as humans we want a lot of things from relationships. In fact, so much that there are hundreds of article written about how we want too much from our relationships, how we put strain on our partners, requiring so much of them.
And in many ways, they are right.
But that’s a topic for another day.
Suffice to say that although we may WANT 1,372,423 things from our relationships, our ability to be happy and live a fulfilling life depends on a small percentage of them.
And the best question to ask yourself about a relationship (especially in the early stages) is not:
“Does this check all my boxes”
“Are any of my noncompromisables violated?”
Because that is a fast and easy way to know whether it’s worth moving forward with someone.
Noncompromisables are the things that without them in your relationship will pretty much guarantee stress, strife, unhappiness, and quite possibly depression, insecurity, and unbecoming behaviors.
These are things that no amount of work on your relationship, communication, compromise (ewww!), or maturity can fix.
They are your must (not) haves.
There is no way I can imagine being happy in a relationship with someone who believes (or doesn’t believe) __.
For me, one of these is:
There is no way I can imagine being happy in a relationship with someone who believes that homosexuality is a sin.
This is actually one of the questions on OkCupid that I marked as a deal-breaker for me, and I would look for it.
Not just because I started my life as a little lesbian, and until I was in my 40s, I’d slept with FAR (like, really far) more women than men, but because I have dear friends and loved ones who are various shades of gay, and I would never bring someone into my life who thought they were wrong for being who they are.
Your first thought may be (probably is) very different from mine. And that’s how it should be.
After all, your noncompromisables should match your life, your needs and your priorities.
Here are a few more questions:
There is no way I can imagine being happy in a relationship with someone who does (or doesn’t) __.
There is no way I can imagine being happy in a relationship with someone who treats me (or doesn’t treat me) __.
There is no way I can imagine being happy in a relationship with someone who treats others/my friends (or doesn’t treat others/my friends) __.
There is no way I can imagine being happy in a relationship with someone who values (or doesn’t value) __.
There is no way I can imagine being happy in a relationship with someone who is (or isn’t) __.
For that last one, it may be kind of obvious to some on here to say:
There is no way I can imagine being happy in a relationship with someone who isn’t kinky.
Which may or may not be true. Sure, some people NEED that. Others just prefer it, or want to dabble sometimes, and would be perfectly happy in a satisfying vanilla relationship.
I actually don’t know how I feel about that.
I do know that I don’t date vanillas right now, because it seems like a hassle, so I probably won’t have to come up against that any time soon.
Another one that is worth exploring:
Based on my personal principles and ethics, I will only be with (will not be with) someone who __.
For me, this could be written:
Based on my personal principles and ethics, I will only be with someone who believes that all people of all races, ethnicities, religions, disabilities, genders, ages, sexual orientations or gender identities are worthy of love and kindness, and are equal.
Most of your noncompromisables are probably going to be pretty general, based on your personal collection of ethics and morality.
Some might be specific, although those are rare. For example:
There is no way I can imagine being happy in a relationship with someone who doesn’t like dogs.
I’ve tried. After all, I don’t have a dog right now. But I just can’t imagine a human I would get along well with intimately who hated dogs. After all, I spent 22 years of my life training and working with dogs, and I plan to get another dogs at some point in the future.
PLUS, pretty much every time I see a dog, I get a silly grin on my face, and I involuntarily exclaim, “Puppy!” Someone who could not appreciate that with me would feel like wearing ill-fitting clothing to me. It would be uncomfortable.
Many of these noncompromisables will probably be focused on your boundaries as well.
“ I will never maintain a relationship with someone who makes me feel ‘less than.’”
“I will never keep someone in my life who cannot communicate with compassion.”
“I do not belong with someone who tries to control me.”
And so on.
These aren’t about what weird things someone puts ketchup on (pancakes, ewww, gross!), but instead your NEEDS in a relationship.
There won’t be that many in the scheme of things.
Noncompromisables are best figured out BEFORE you get into a relationship, so you know what to compare it to. However, it should also be pretty easy to add to them as you discover more things about yourself.
But if you’re in a relationship, and you’re thinking about dropping a noncompromisable to make that relationship work, then it’s probably worth really taking some time to think that through.
Just in case, your current state of love and hormones and overall horniness is affecting your decision-making process.
Remember when I mentioned compromise up there? You might have noticed that I added “ewww.” That’s because I don’t believe in compromise.
Which is also another topic.
In a nutshell, though, I have a list of noncompromisables (a dear friend of mine gave me this term when I was 22, RIP, Mary) , and then I have everything else. And everything else is still noncompromisable, but it is open to negotiation and changing my mind.
Because the BEST way to find unhappiness in an otherwise good relationship, is to compromise too much. So much that you lose your self, you build resentment, and you don’t get enough of what you need to thrive.
And knowing what your absolute dead-stops are for your own compromise (whatever that looks like) is a good reminder of what is sacrosanct, and what is up for grabs and change and adventure.
Of course, this is not human-proof.
We all bend a little too much sometime, ignore warning signs, get too in the feels, and make (or unmake) decisions based on the wrong reasons.
The benefit of this kind of thinking and building a list is that you have it when you’re ready to bring you head back out of the clouds and really examine whether something is going to be right for you.
And that’s a great place to start.