“Hi Orna and Matthew,
Does love equal sacrifice? I think I have a misconception about love. I keep thinking that it means I have to focus on my partner’s needs and by satisfying their needs I’ll get mine satisfied as well. It seems that on some level I believe you have to sacrifice for a relationship to work long-term.
The friends I’ve talked with about it have all told me that I am in sacrifice for a relationship. Before that, I didn’t understand at all why I felt resentment in my romantic relationships. None of them have panned out and so I’m writing to you to find out what to do. I really want to have a partnership with my beloved where we are equals.
Your question, “Does love equal sacrifice?” is a common dilemma. Some people will try to convince you this is how true love works. That love is supposed to be selfless and therefore noble in some way. The problem with the idea that love equals sacrifice is that it’s presented as if it’s akin to sainthood, but it’s not very practical or fulfilling.
Sacrifice Creates A Doomsday Cycle
When one person is sacrificing to make the other happy, the relationship is unbalanced. The wants and needs of your partner take precedence over your own. It’s as if you are only here to be of service to your partner.
Additionally, giving up your wants and needs for your partner’s happiness will only create distance between the two of you and resentment will grow that into a chasm. Your anger and resentment over your needs not being met can cause you to overcorrect and set a hard boundary, so you start to think only of your own needs. This will doom the relationship and you’ll end up imagining that romantic relationships just aren’t for you.
Sometimes when your need to sacrifice for a relationship is so ingrained, you won’t even know what you need or want because your focus has been on making everyone else in your life happy instead of yourself. No relationship can survive when one of you is starving and the other one is satiated.
Not knowing your needs and wants can leave you feeling like a little cork bouncing around on the ocean of your life. Keeping these clear boundaries will support a long-term healthy dynamic between you and your partner. A healthy relationship is a give-and-take between two people. Each of you is in charge of your own happiness and you share that love and happiness with one another.
Does Love Equal Sacrifice? Only When Your Needs Are Also Met
You sacrifice for a relationship when you swallow your feelings and put aside your wants and needs. Abandoning yourself and hoping your partner will fill the void by taking care of you leaves the door open for you to feel not valued and invisible in love. The strategy of going into sacrifice for love has probably been in place since you were a child. Breaking this strategy will take some effort on your part and will lead to building your self-esteem and confidence.
Start by exercising your “No.” When asked to do something for someone else get in the habit of responding with, “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.” Don’t commit until you’ve thought about it for at least a few days.
When you have a habit of sacrificing for a relationship, speaking how you feel and asking for what you want will feel uncomfortable, so you must practice even BEFORE you’re in a relationship. Begin with those family and friends you are close with and take a risk by expressing your desires.
Be kind and compassionate with yourself as you discover your needs and ask for them to be fulfilled. Perfection is not required, so you just have to make consistent effort to break your bad habit of sacrificing for love.
Does Love Equal Sacrifice? 11 Things You Should NEVER Sacrifice For A Relationship
There are the things you want in a relationship and the things you need. Knowing the difference is important because you can’t sacrifice your needs and be happy. You may want to be with someone who shares all of your hobbies, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. However, if you need someone to regularly share how they feel about you, that’s something you can’t sacrifice for a relationship.
Your Personal Boundaries
When you sacrifice your personal boundaries, you give your partner control over how you feel. You put your lovability into someone else’s hands. All relationships require boundaries. Love does not mean that your partner can say or do anything to you. Respect comes with a boundary and learning to love another person respectfully makes sure you don’t sacrifice for a relationship.
Your feelings are always appropriate — there should never be a debate about them. Swallowing your feelings because you’re afraid of upsetting your partner, having your partner dismiss your feelings, or feeling bad about yourself because your partner isn’t happy are all ways you sacrifice for a relationship. You have to believe that you are worthy of taking the uncomfortable steps to speak up. Own your feelings, express them, and let the chips fall where they may. The right person for you will want to know how you feel (and they’ll want you to be happy).
Your Need For Emotional Connection
Emotional connection is the lifeblood of a relationship. Connection is the fuel that keeps the two of you connected. It’s difficult to get emotional connection if you aren’t in the same physical space. It’s impossible to get it if your partner never shares how they feel. In a healthy relationship, both people regularly make time for emotional connection.
Your Personal Freedom
Your autonomy must be respected by your partner for love to thrive. You have the freedom to think what you think and to pursue your passions. It’s okay to make up your own mind how you think and feel about anything. No one should expect you to give up your personal freedom in a relationship. Mutual respect is a requirement for a healthy relationship.
Having self-respect means you don’t sacrifice your values or integrity for your partner. You lose your self-respect when you tolerate people who don’t treat you well, apologize for something when you aren’t in the wrong, and agree to help others at your own expense. You teach people how to treat you from the moment you meet so never put up with someone who is disrespectful.
Love doesn’t require you to sacrifice your well-being for your partner. Self-care must be a priority for you. Creating rituals that make your self-care habitual are always a good strategy. No one who loves you would expect you to neglect your own needs to serve theirs.
What’s the point of being in a relationship that doesn’t add to your happiness? Or worse, requires you to sacrifice your happiness? Most people put happiness at the top of their list of life goals. Happiness is not something you should sacrifice for a relationship. Besides, when you share happiness, you double the joy in your life.
Your Friends And Family
A partner who requires you to give up your friends or family does not have your best interests at heart. You get to decide the role your friends and family play in your life. Your partner should be supportive of your desires. If they’re not, then you probably don’t share the same values about friends and family and you’ll find yourself in constant conflict and strife.
No one should expect you to merge your identity with theirs and let go of your individuality. It is your differences that brought you together and it is your differences that keep the spark alive. Whether you have different hobbies, spiritual beliefs, or politics, embrace and respect your differences and your relationship will thrive.
Your Dreams And Goals
Your partner should be your biggest supporter, cheering you on and celebrating your wins. Anyone who asks you to give up your dreams is asking you to sacrifice your goals for theirs. In a healthy relationship, you support each other and work together to create something bigger than the two of you. This way your love continues to grow deeper.
Changing your habit of sacrificing for a relationship will require you to put yourself first. You’ll be creating a new habit and that will take some trial and error. Be kind and compassionate with yourself as you begin this journey.
Ultimately, the love you seek is not out in the world; it is inside of you. By creating a new relationship with yourself, one that is based in love and self-acceptance, you will not be tempted to abandon yourself in relationship because you know that the love you seek can never be lost.
Expecting that someone would show up in your life and treat you any differently than how you treat yourself is out of integrity as well as unrealistic. By creating a new relationship with yourself and getting in rapport with yourself you will be able to make new choices and develop new strategies in relationship and never self-abandon again.
There is a natural progression in a healthy relationship dynamic. Understanding this relationship journey will give you the confidence to approach love differently. Download our free report, “The 5 Stages Of Relationship.” Learning the natural course of a romantic relationship will put you on the road to the long-lasting, soul-satisfying love you desire and deserve.