Note to Self: A relationship based on tolerance, compromise or settling is doomed to eventual disharmony.
I have been thinking of the idea expressed in this Note to Self for quite some time. I have determined that now is the time to publish an article about it. Part of the discussion, of course, will be around my definitions of the words I used so that the idea I am conveying is clear.
First of all, disharmony, in the context here, refers to two parties acting in such a way that the relationship and the individuals involved are harmed due to a lack of respect by each party.
Tolerance, as I am using it, means to “put up with”. It implies that one does not really like the one he is tolerating. From this definition, it follows that if I am not crazy about another person (for any reason), he will sooner or later get under my skin. The more I try to tolerate the person, the more he will bother me because toleration also implies a certain amount of insincerity on my part. If there is one thing that life has taught me, it is that the Universe demands that each of us be true to ourselves. If being true to oneself demands the dissolution of a relationship, then so be it!
Why would anyone tolerate someone they do not like? There are many reasons, but I think it is safe to say that they all have something to do with an underlying fear of some kind. For instance, “I should tolerate so-and-so because if I don’t, I’ll look like a bad person.” This statement reveals a fear of rejection. The statement “I will tolerate so-and-so because I have to work with her and I need my job to make my house payments.” reveals a fear of not being able to survive without a particular job.
As for compromise and settling, both are closely related. Compromise, to me, means to make an agreement that appeases, to some degree, each concerned party in a disagreement. Settling is where two parties come to an agreement in order to avoid an unpleasant situation. The settlement does not appease all concerned parties directly. It only need be less unpleasant than what would happen without the settlement. Compromises, on the other hand, actually have elements that please each party directly. The important point with both compromise and settling is that both leave all parties with a sense of dissatisfaction, despite what the compromise or settling may have accomplished. This dissatisfaction is a subtle form of dishonesty because each party is tolerating their dissatisfaction! In addition, if I know living creatures, they are organisms that are always on the lookout to fulfill their desires (and half-way fulfilling is definitely not satisfactory)!
Like tolerance, compromise and settling have at their base some kind of fear. It seems to me that the most common reason that people settle or compromise is to preserve their lifestyle. Think of such things as divorce settlements or political compromises. In these examples and others, nobody is completely satisfied.
I realize that some may have broader definitions for tolerance, compromise and settling than I do. That is why it was important for me to define the words as I did. Of course, my definitions and focus to this point has been quite grim and I do not want to leave the article on a grim note. So, are there some qualities that “doom” a relationship to long-term harmony? I say, there is (and I’m glad you asked)!
Tolerance, compromise and settling (at least as I am using them) all imply antagonism and a hard separation between two or more parties. Qualities which encourage personal satisfaction and long-term harmony in a relationship, then, demand an inherent unity between all parties, even though they may experience differences between them at times. So, the comparable words to tolerance, compromise and settling that occurred to me that imply this underlying unity are acceptance, consensus and harmonizing, respectively. Acceptance implies the validity of the person being accepted, even though a disagreement or difference exists. Consensus is about completely satisfying all parties in a disagreement. Finally, harmonizing, as I am using it here, means that all parties are working together for the good of all.
Now that I have laid out the alternatives to tolerance, compromise and settling, I would like to make it clear that acceptance, consensus and harmonizing do not guarantee that a relationship will be preserved. Sometimes the best thing for two people is to part ways because their differences are too great to co-exist in peaceful harmony. Nevertheless, when such a parting occurs, both parties can part in a state of acceptance of the other and they can come to a consensus that parting is the best solution to their differences. In addition, their parting can be a way of harmonizing their differences.
So, to end this article, I present the converse of the Note to Self above:
Note to Self: A relationship based on acceptance, consensus and harmonizing is destined to eventual harmony.