Is it Really Your Choice or Not?
When faced with the risk of creating conflict in significant relationships, we tend to give up our boundaries and conform to the other person’s expectations. Furthermore, we even find logical reasons for doing it, ignoring our own point of view or needs.
How much of this behavior is necessary for a relationship to work and when does it start being harmful and toxic?
Boundaries Are Necessary and Healthy
Boundaries and strong personal values are healthy and essential for our development, both mentally and spiritually. Not only are they part of our identity, but they also help others know how to relate to us.
However, many people struggle with two different needs, both powerful and justified: on one hand, there is the need for being loved and accepted. On the other hand, there is the need for freedom.
When facing the risk of generating conflict, anger, tension, disappointment or rejection, you may choose to conform to whatever people expect of you.
For example, if your parents have a strong desire for you to become a doctor, and they put pressure on you (in either more or less obvious ways), you’ll tend to embrace this career even when you sense a profound commitment to, let’s say, art. You do this to avoid having an open conversation with them that may hurt their feelings. You choose to conform, embracing their logical reasons why you should become a doctor. Consequently, you deny all your natural aspirations and pursue a path that doesn’t fulfill you. You may even build a great career as a doctor, while you constantly feel unhappy and experience dissatisfaction on a deep level, and you may even get ill.
Let’s consider another example.
If you are in a relationship with someone who needs a lot of attention, puts in a lot of effort and builds their own life around you, they will expect you to do the same. What happens when you don’t meet their needs? You must face a lot of arguing, hurt feelings, tension, frustration, and anger.
If you are a more passive and indulgent kind of person, you’ll give up your boundaries just to keep things calm and smooth. You’ll even justify your weakness by saying to yourself that relationships call for many compromises. But the truth is that you will either seek other unhealthy ways to feel free or independent (even lying and cheating), or you become more and more frustrated and unhappy.
The Avoidance of Unpleasant Consequences Can Lead You to Very Unhealthy Situations
While naturally and lovingly aligning with others needs and desire is the ideal (and yet tangible) situation, conforming to their expectations by betraying your own values is the most harmful path you could choose.
Love isn’t transactional
Whenever you find yourself at a crossroad, not knowing what path to choose, make sure that you honor your most profound calling, and most of all, be aware that love and acceptance aren’t transactional.
Whoever rejects you for being authentic and making your own choices doesn’t deserve your compromises either. And (here’s the interesting part) whoever loves you unconditionally will never make you feel like you compromised even when you choose to put in extra effort or meet their needs beyond yours.
So, if you want to be happy in a long-term relationship, don’t give up your boundaries and values simply for the sake of following society’s models or conforming to others’ views of life.
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