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When do we begin to compromise in dating relationships? Truth be told, we begin to negotiate and make concessions on date number one. We do so with ourselves on an internal level by putting our best foot forward and letting the person of interest meet our representative: the charming and appealing qualities that would draw someone in. Once feelings have developed, we slowly let the crazy person and insecurities seep out.

Within the course of a few days I found myself having some interesting conversations with a few people who either married single parents or had a child from a previous relationship and wed someone who didn’t have kids. The one phrase that everyone said repeatedly was “I/they had to get in where I/they fit in.” What I found even more interesting was that in many of these circumstances, the people who were articulating this most frequently were women who didn’t have children that married single fathers.

“He was a bus driver who worked nights and I was a teacher. When he wasn’t working he was with his two boys, so what I would do is ride on the bus with him and we would talk. Depending on where I parked, he would give me a ride in his car on his break and I would come to see him at his place on weekends when he would put the boys to sleep. I had more flexibility than he did, so I had to get in where I [could] fit in.”

What this woman told me was that this kind of compromise set the precedent for their relationship. She hadn’t been married before; but she said that looking back, this kind of trade-off would wind up being like the ones she currently makes on a daily basis with her husband and their teenage daughter (the boys are now adults in their twenties).

It seems as if people are less willing to come to the dating table willing to negotiate these days. There is this ideal of what and how things should happen as well as what they are looking for. We want people to understand our paradigms and once we deem them worthy of being an investment, we will begin to display some semblance of reciprocity. However, what people are claiming that they are looking for is not what they are willing to do from the beginning. That in itself is a paradox (I’m pretty sure most won’t admit to this but their best friends would say “Yeah, you do”).

The reason that people are less willing to compromise in their relationships is because people wrongfully define it as a sacrifice. It is more or less associated with settling than bartering for the sake of the greater good. As a generation, millennials are getting married almost ten years later than our parents and grandparents did which means we come with a lot more options, experiences, and baggage. We have this mindset of we know what we want, how we want it, and anything less than that can and will be discarded. Why? Because we know that who are what we want in our perfect mate exists. I may come off as a jerk for saying this; but that kind of mindset will keep someone single much longer than they would like to be.

The last question I asked the individuals who didn’t have children from previous relationships was if they considered dating someone who had children before meeting their spouse. Almost every least one of them-men and women-said “no.”

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