Sacrifice In A Relationship: 22 Things You Should And Shouldn’t Sacrifice For Your Partner

What does it mean to sacrifice for someone you love?

And just what exactly should you be willing to sacrifice? 

Some things, believe it or not, are off-limits.

We’ll get into that. 

You’ve no doubt heard about making sacrifices in a relationship, and you’re allowed to wonder just how far that should go.

What should you be willing to give up to make a relationship work?

If you’re already bristling (just a bit), we’ll take that as a good sign.

You’re about to see why.

[Side note: In this online couples course, learn healthy communication skills and build the intimacy you’ve always wanted in your relationship.)

What Are Sacrifices in a Relationship? 

Sacrificing in relationships often takes the form of compromises.

You want one thing, and your partner wants something different — whether that has to do with where you live, where you go on a particular date, or something else — and you both give a little. 

The final result is somewhere between what each of you wants. 

Sometimes, the compromise brings you closer together. It becomes a problem, though, when one of you consistently sacrifices more than the other. 

Relationship sacrifices typically involve one or more of the following:

  • How you prefer to spend your free time 
  • Where you want to live and how you prefer to decorate your space
  • How you manage your money (spending, saving, investing, etc.)
  • Whether you have kids and how many
  • What you do together and what you do separately

How Important is Sacrifice in a Relationship? 

For most of us, the word sacrifice has negative connotations since it requires giving up something that matters to us. But the meaning changes when what you gain from the sacrifice matters more to you than what you’re giving up.

The following quote by Lindy Zart makes this clearer: 

“Sometimes in life, you do things you don’t want to. Sometimes you sacrifice, sometimes you compromise. Sometimes you let go and sometimes you fight.

It’s all about deciding what’s worth losing and what’s worth keeping.”

That’s how every sacrifice should be: the exchange of something valuable for something more valuable, even if you don’t get that something right away.  

Sacrifice in a Relationship: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do for Love

Some sacrifices are worth making, and some are not. You probably have an inkling of which ones are which, but the following lists should help clear up any confusion.

None of the sacrifices will have their intended effect, though, without communication.

11 Things You Should Sacrifice for Love 

When it comes to things you should be willing to sacrifice for love, the following should make the list, though you won’t be giving up these things entirely or without good reason. 

1. Alone Time

You might be used to spending a lot of your free time alone pursuing your own goals. But being in a relationship will require spending time together to connect and grow closer.

And that will mean giving up some of that alone time to be more present for your partner. How you spend your time shows what you value more.

2. Screen Time

When you’re seated at a table with your partner, those moments are not the time to scroll through social media or play games on your phone or tablet.

Depending on how awake you both are, it could be a great time to talk (if only briefly). 

Don’t let your smartphone take priority over connecting with the people you love.

3. Energy

Committed relationships take a lot of energy.

And since your day’s supply of energy is finite, you’ll need to reallocate some of your energy to activities that nurture your relationship without sacrificing either your or your partner’s needs. 

As with time, the way you spend your energy says a lot about your priorities. 

4. Privacy

While you don’t have to relinquish all your privacy to prove your love, you probably won’t feel the need to hide as much from your spouse or partner as you would from others.

That said, if you’d rather not have company in the bathroom, boundaries are still a thing. 

Whatever your thoughts on privacy, it’s worth talking about.

5. The Need to be Right

No one really needs to be right all the time, anyway. It’s an impossible (and exhausting) standard.

Also, relationships are more challenging if you’re convinced you’re always right about things. It’s not easy to find a partner who’s convinced they’re always wrong. 

And that would get boring, too. 

6. Perfectionism

We’re big fans of the motto, “Done is better than perfect.” In relationships, especially, imperfect action is better than none at all.

And since perfectionism is the mother of procrastination (i.e., avoidance), this is one thing we hope you’re willing to sacrifice.

7. Money

Some gestures of love will involve money — like buying gifts, surprising your partner with a favorite meal, and possibly even buying a ring.

If you keep a detailed account of your budget, you’ll notice it more when you make room for these thoughtful expenses. 

Once again, you’re sacrificing something good for something that matters more. 

8. Self-Centeredness

You are no longer the center of even your own universe. And unless you want to end up alone again, you’ll need to practice removing your attention from yourself and focusing it on your partner.

Otherwise, what’s the point of having one?

When it comes to your attention, share it with the people who matter to you. 

9. Old Habits

Focus on those that are not compatible with a healthy relationship — like bottling up your emotions or bolting at the first sign of conflict.

Take a look at your personal habits and be honest about which ones might sabotage your relationship. 

Then make it a priority to replace those with habits more likely to strengthen it. 

10. Old Grievances 

You’re doing no one any favors dwelling on old grudges and bringing them up again and again… and again.

Let them go, if not for your relationship, then for your own mental health. You can’t be happy or at peace when you’re holding onto anger toward someone. 

Let this be the easiest sacrifice you have to make. 

11. Old Attitudes 

Let go of old, musty attitudes about yourself, about things you used to make fun of, about the downsides of being part of a couple…. You’re building something new, and those old attitudes will only get in your way.

Think about what you know to be true, and replace old habits of thought with those that reflect the person you want to be. 

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11 Things You Should Not Sacrifice in Marriage or Relationships 

Moving on to what you should never sacrifice in a relationship, we hope none of the following makes you think things like, “Oh…I  remember when I had that.”

Because no one who loves you should expect you to give these up. 

12. Your Goals and Aspirations

Whether you had those goals before the relationship or you set them more recently, you have a right to pursue those that still matter to you.

You don’t have to give up every goal that isn’t about your relationship. 

If your goals and accomplishments aren’t worth much to your partner, it’s just a matter of time before they ask you to choose between your vision and theirs. 

13. Your Interests and Hobbies

If someone in your life is pressuring you to give up an interest or hobby you love, you owe it to yourself (and to the relationship, if it’s worth saving) to clearly and firmly defend your right and intention to keep it. 

Assuming your hobbies are compatible with a healthy relationship, you shouldn’t have to give them up to please someone else.

14. Your Friends

No one who cares about you should ask you to ditch your (other) friends to make them happy. 

If your partner is asking you to cut ties with good friends, it’s not an overreaction to re-evaluate the relationship and consider whether you’d be better off keeping your friends and breaking up with your partner. 

15. Your Family

You’re the one who decides how much of a role your family members play in your life and how much time you spend with them. No partner should try to control how much time you spend with family (or anyone else). 

And if a family member asks you for help with something, it’s your place (not your partner’s) to decide how to respond. 

16. Your Independence 

You value your independence, as any adult should. You don’t have to sacrifice that to ensure the success of your romantic relationship.

No partner should ask you to relinquish control over your bank account, your business, a personal project, etc., to please them. 

They should value your independence as much as they value their own. 

17. Personal Boundaries

Everyone has a right to their personal boundaries. Anyone who violates those and expects you to be okay with that (to prove your love) is not someone who respects you or has your good at heart. 

You don’t have to give up your personal boundaries to be in a committed relationship. 

18. Your Sense of Self

No one should expect you to lose yourself in the relationship — to merge your identity with theirs and let go of your individuality. You are a unique person with your own thoughts, feelings, values, and priorities. 

You don’t have to give up your true self to have love in your life. And no one who loves you would expect you to.

19. Your Self-Esteem 

Complete selflessness should not be your goal. Always giving in to people who expect too much of you erodes your self-esteem and drains the life out of you. 

To salvage both, you need to assert yourself and defend your needs at the risk of angering or alienating those who take advantage of your desire to keep the peace. 

20. Your Self-Care

Self-care should still be a daily priority for you. You might make some changes to compromise with your partner, but it shouldn’t cost you the things you need to feel like yourself. 

No one who loves you would expect you to neglect your own needs to serve theirs.

21. Your Health

While any committed relationship is likely to affect your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, it shouldn’t cost you any of them. 

If making someone happy makes it impossible for you to get regular health care, talk to a counselor, or pursue your spiritual interests, it’s time to change that. 

Otherwise, burnout is just around the corner. 

22. Your Every Inclination

You’ll probably sacrifice some of your inclinations to be there for your partner (or your kids, your best friend, etc.) or to meet them halfway.

But you shouldn’t be sacrificing all of them to appease anyone. 

Letting someone else have their way in everything won’t make them happy anyway; it’ll just ensure you share in their misery. 

What are you willing to sacrifice in a relationship?

How do you know you’re sacrificing too much for your relationship? Pay attention to how you feel when you make a particular sacrifice. 

Do you feel warm and at peace? Or do you feel instant resentment toward your partner? 

Do you catch yourself thinking, “Will I ever get to do something I want… or is this my life, now?” 

What you feel about yourself and toward your partner says a lot about whether the sacrifice is worth making — and where it’s leading you both.