Everyone knows that relationships are a give and take. There is always going to be a certain amount of compromise when it comes to sharing your life with someone else— but are there costs that are just too great? What should you be willing to sacrifice for a relationship, and what is too much? These are big questions that no one can really answer for you— but you do need to keep a few things in mind.

The Nature of Sacrifice

Life’s a give and take. Granted, some things are easier to give up than others. If you don’t like to party and travel, and prefer sitting home reading and studying anyway, then going to college isn’t much sacrifice. If you hate the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s not much of a sacrifice not to give it up for the solitude of the country.

When something is a bit more difficult to give up, it’s a sacrifice. A sacrifice is when you give up something that is meaningful or important to you for something else that is more meaningful and important to you.

If there’s not a balance of give and take, and the relationship is all one-sided, it’s difficult to find mutual respect.

So, contrary to popular belief, sacrifices are not selfless acts. You are (or should be) getting something in return that you value more.

Sacrificing For the Relationship

When you do make a relationship sacrifice, try not to think of it in terms of you giving up your happiness for the other person. This is a great way to start fostering resentments.

When you sacrifice something, it’s not for the other person. It’s for the relationship, which ultimately you should find is more valuable and desirable than the thing you are considering giving up.


Sacrifices have to be somewhat mutual in a relationship. Except in certain cases, such as one person caring for the other after an illness or accident, give and take should be fairly equal.

If there’s not a balance of give and take, and the relationship is all one-sided, it’s difficult to find mutual respect. When one person is giving up almost everything and the other person is not giving up much at all, it goes beyond sacrifice. This is usually because the person giving up everything has low self-worth or self-esteem. This situation is not about relationship sacrifices, but one person taking advantage, selfishly, of another person.

Self-Interest vs. Sacrifice

In a new relationship, it’s important to consider how much you’re willing to give up for the promise of it working. After you’ve invested a lot in a relationship, it’s important to re-evaluate if what you’re getting from your sacrifices is really worth more than what you’re giving up.

This is something only you can weigh for yourself. Without having your own needs and self-interests met, it’s very hard to have a healthy relationship. You can end up living in what essentially equates to emotional poverty, which can lead you into a vicious cycle of contempt. The more you give up without getting something worthwhile back, the more you begin to resent yourself, your lover and the relationship in general.

When the Cost is Too Great

Think about your deal-breakers. There are some values and goals in life that are just not worth giving up for a relationship. This doesn’t mean you are heartless— it means your priorities are intact. You know where you draw your lines and are willing to cut your losses.

Ultimately, this can be the best for all involved (especially in the beginning of a relationship). That’s why it’s so important to be honest about what you’re really willing to sacrifice-- and why it’s not selfish to think about what you’re getting out of it. You can’t have give-and-take without take; you can’t have sacrifice without getting something back from it.