Here’s a sample chapter from the exclusive bonus eBook you will receive for pre-ordering True Companions!
There’s a lot of talk in True Companions about growing together.
However, let’s be clear: this is not the same as blending together. For instance, every morning I make the same smoothie with the same ingredients: a handful of frozen strawberries, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a banana, and two cups of almond milk. I blend it all together and by the time I drink it, it’s impossible to tell where the strawberries end and the bananas begin.
Last week, several couples told me they were worried about becoming a smoothie.
I was advising them to compromise with each other about their vision for their relationship—career goals, ways of parenting, leisure activities, and so on—and they each expressed the concern that compromise would turn them into an unrecognizable version of themselves. Basically, I was hearing over and over again: I’m a banana and she’s a strawberry, and neither one of us wants to become a smoothie. I told each of these couples the same thing I’ve told countless couples over the years:
Compromise isn’t changing who you are, it’s changing how you fit together.
In true companionship, compromise is about creating spaces for each of you to be fully yourself, with approximately equal frequency over time. That’s the compromise. No longer do you get to do your thing or be in charge of your schedule or set your own course one-hundred percent of the time. Now, you get to do that about half the time, with all the celebration and support of your closest companion, while the other half of the time you return the favor.
This sorting out of mutuality is one of the blessed struggles of true companionship.
For instance, as I mention in True Companions, my wife loves adventure and I love…couches. She loves to socialize, and I love to…contemplate. Blending would be a disaster. You can’t carry a couch onto a kayak. You can’t go to a party and sit in the lotus position. You simply can’t go exploring from the comfort of your own living room. Smoothie compromise is impossible.
Rather, in true companionship, compromise is about making sure there is basically equal room for both strawberries and bananas in your companionship.
True compromise is the agreement that you’ll hang out with friends one night every weekend, and hang out by the fire the other night. It’s the agreement that Saturday mornings are for pajamas and Saturday afternoons are for hiking boots. And it’s making those agreements not begrudgingly but gratefully, because you recognize that true compromise doesn’t make you less of what you are but gives you the opportunity to discover even more of what you are. It turns out, I love hanging out with our friends on a Friday night and I love finding new trails on a Saturday afternoon. Compromise hasn’t diminished me; it’s expanded me.
May you put away the blender, and may you, through true compromise, become true companions.
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Dr. Kelly Flanagan is a psychologist, author, consultant, and speaker who enjoys walking with people through the three essentials of a truly satisfying life: worthiness, belonging, and purpose. His blog writings have been featured in Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, The 5 Love Languages, and the TODAY Show. Kelly is the author of Loveable and True Companions.