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Every relationship requires give and take–a sort of bending away from one’s core. Never making concessions for others can turn a person into a self-absorbed narcissist that no one wants to be around. I have a family member that always has to be the authority, demands making decisions whenever we are together and always has to be right. It’s a real bore to be around sometimes, but he’s family. And the alternative is to not have him in my life. When you love someone, you simply concede once in awhile.

I once faulted Silky (on this very blog) for losing her identity when she married Clark Gable. The Cafe Society darling exchanged in her designer gowns for designer duds and “tried on” the ranch life to appease her fourth husband. She left behind drawing rooms and caviar to camp and fish, roughing it because that’s the lifestyle he preferred. I think I even went so far as to chid womankind for our eagerness to acquiesce to men’s desires and requirements.

For nearly a year now, I’ve been berating myself for having traded my independence for a man. When he came into my life, all humor and charm, I thought he was worth the effort of negotiation. He turned out not to be. But since we broke up last May, I’ve been pretty hard on myself for the concessions I made–or was willing to make–for a man. What I’m starting to understand, is that it’s not bad or wrong to give little pieces of yourself to someone, or even big chunks. It’s not that you’re giving yourself away, it’s that you’re GIVING. Period. That’s one of the cornerstones of a personal evolution based in love. And without that dance between two people, there can be no real relationship. The key is finding the balance and understanding that it is a sharing process, not a loss.

I no longer regret the choices I made for this man that woke up my heart, then broke it, then left. I was willing. Someday I will find the right person–the one who’s also prepared to bend and share. Or maybe I’m done with intimate relationships. Only time will tell. But what I do know for certain is that I now understand what is necessary to have a healthy, well-balanced connection with another person and that I’m better equipped to make the compromises that it requires–hopefully without losing myself. In the meantime, I’m happily independent.