Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Selfishness and Sacrifice: Finding Balance

It amazes me some of the things I have discovered about being in a relationship in just the past year. Tim and I have been dating for about 2.5 years and I am constantly learning new things. About him. About me. About us together. And about dating in general.

The reason I am so surprised by this is because I've been in serious relationships before. At least two others were very serious, committed, long term deals - that could have potentially ended in "forever".

So I wonder, why is it that in THIS relationship I'm faced with so many lessons and realizations? Maybe it's because this is the first time I've lived with a boyfriend. Which I believe makes you so much closer that perhaps it sheds light on new things. Or maybe it's because I'm 26, he's 27, we both have careers, and are happy. And that's when all the real shit hits you. Because you've accomplished a lot of what you wanted to accomplish. Which means now you have to move on to other, grander things.

Whatever the reason, the newest aspect of a relationship I'm learning is making decisions TOGETHER that will affect BOTH of you. I think in a traditional relationship (one where you get married younger, then move in together) this is something one would start to discover after they tie the knot. You are bonded together legally, so one begins to think of their choices in an "US" mindset, instead of a "ME" mindset.

But in the non-traditional relationships that are no longer that obscure, where people date well into their 20's, live together, have babies, move across the country, all before marriage... this jump-shift in perspective can happen in any committed relationship - whether or not you're legally bound.

Even though I've been in relationships during college and after (while I was starting my career), I still always thought about my future as MY goals, MY ambitions, and MY plan. Yes, I always calculated my boyfriend at the time into the equation. But, I guess I just always had the selfish belief that they would just follow MY plan. Or I had the naive belief that somehow MY plan and HIS plan would perfectly align.

But now my eyes are open to that selfishness and naive. Tim is his own person. He has lived 24 years of life before meeting me. And I am my own person. I have lived 23 years before meeting Tim. Of course we are going to have different views on life, our future, different goals and aspirations

I've always known this is the case (for those of you who are thinking, "DUH Kali"). But once you've cemented YOUR future plan, then fallen in love with someone and written them into your future in red permanent marker, you don't stop to think that plopping a new character into your already written story isn't going to work.

Because they have a future plan already written, too. And maybe they took a red Sharpie and added your name into their script. And then you sit down and realize, you have two stories blotted in red that include the same main characters, but the plot, the rise and fall events, and the endings are all different.

So then what?

It's hard for Tim and I. We are both selfish people. We are both driven. We both want what we want. 

This is embarrassing to admit, but I've never thought about sacrificing my goals for a man. I never thought that would be a decision I would have to make, or would want to make.

I also never thought I would have to ask a man to sacrifice his goals for me. Luckily, I live in a time where men are more wiling to do this, or even consider it an option. But I still never thought I would have to ask someone to sacrifice for me.

So how do you decide? Does the person who makes less money sacrifice for the more profitable job? Does the one who has a more fulfilling or meaningful career get to call the shots? Does it depend on family or legacy or whoever "wears the pants"? Do you take turns?

Does compromise always mean one person is being selfish and the other is making a sacrifice? Is one person always going to hold the other back and is the other always going to resent them because of it?

How do you take a risk for each other without screwing yourself over?

How do you find a balance between selfishness and sacrifice?

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  1. What an interesting post. I've been with my bf for 5 years. We got together when we were 17. We've lived together for 3 and moved 3 times. I think of me, him and us as three separate things. He wants to travel and cook, I want to stay here get healthy and build a career, but we both know we don't have to be physically together to get that. I have goals and he has goals and luckily I found someone who understands that! Neither of us wants to hold the other back so we support each other

  2. Oh gosh this is a good post with an even better question. There will probably be a million opinions on how to answer them, but my biggest recommendation for finding that balance is to throw competition to the wind. I'm a career driven woman who married into the military which basically threw our ability to make our own decisions out of the window. I knew I was going to sacrifice a lot going into that lifestyle and I struggled with it for about two years. I approached everything with a "Well I'm doing this for you, what am I getting out of it?" mentality because I felt that my career was the one stalling, not his. It was the unproductive and it hurt our relationship a lot (at the time). You have to bring in outside factors into the decision and see where you can bend a location a priority? Are there opportunities for both of you to work? Could you be happy doing your job in various industries? What are the hard no's and what is flexible? Things like that. The best piece of advice I got when I was facing this was to remember that even dream jobs can lose their sparkle after a couple of years (especially in our generation). I was fighting so hard to protect my awesome job/career but after three years I completely outgrew the position and the organization anyway. And taking a risk doesn't necessarily mean you'll screw yourself over...because even if it all falls apart you'll come out the other end learning A TON about yourself as an individual and as one half of the relationship. I think the fact that you two are already thinking in these terms is a great sign...just make sure you are open with each other and try to use facts to guide your decisions and discussions rather than pure emotion.

  3. My husband and I both have sacrificed things and some of the extras in life. He let me quit my job that I had in the field about two weeks after I graduated with my master's degree. The job wasn't for me, I was on call 24/7, I was mistreated and bullied by management and were accusing me of stuff and going behind my back, and working anywhere 40-55 hours. That was three years ago. Sure, we could've bought a house by now and been completely free of debt, if I had stuck with it, but it just wasn't worth it to us. My physical and mental health was suffering. Fast forward to now, I'm not working a traditional job. He is letting me stay at home to pursue my dreams and growing my business.


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