When you’ve been with someone for a while, you’ve made compromises based on his preferences. In a healthy, nurturing, loving relationship, each person makes some adjustments to better get along with or please our partners.
If you’ve been together for years, these concessions become habits. You may not realize you even do them for him anymore. They seem like your way of doing things.
Only after the breakup, you may begin to notice — then question — these activities. I think it’s a turning point in your moving on when you 1) become aware that you are doing something that would not be your preference, and 2) choose to do it differently or not at all.
My epiphany around this concept came months after my ex left. I was reading the morning comics, as is my habit. But when I came to Rex Morgan, M.D., I realized I had no interest in the strip. However, I read it for years, at the request of my ex — he liked it and wanted to discuss the story lines with me. It was no big deal to take 30 seconds each morning to catch up on the exploits of Rex, et al, and if it would please my husband, of course I’d do it. And we did regularly discuss it, so it wasn’t for naught.
However, when he was no longer around, I realized I could stop doing something I did solely for him. I gleefully ceased reading the strip.
I began to look at other habits I’d established out of wanting to please him or keep calm in the house. Not that he was overbearing in any way. In fact, just the opposite. He didn’t ask much of me, so when he did make a request, I was happy to oblige, as he often did to mine.
Have you examined elements of your life since your last long-term relationship? Have you looked at what TV shows you watch, which side of the bed you sleep on, what clothes you wear, what foods you buy and decided if those are really your preferences, or just what you did to please your man or keep the peace?
Compromise is not a bad thing, as long as it is equal. But after he’s gone it’s liberating to realize that what you’ve conceded doesn’t have to stay that way and you can have your life any way you want it. Until your next relationship. But at least you are now starting from what you want, not what your ex liked.