The question was posed to me recently as to whether you should be willing to sacrifice yourself if you love someone. My initial reaction was to bristle at the very idea of it given some of the relationship baggage I carry around. But, after further reflection I realized there certainly has to be a component of sacrifice in any deep relationship.
When my children were small it hit me one day that I would fight to the death to protect them. It was not something I had to think about but rather just a deep seated feeling that I had. The root of that, I suppose, was the unconditional love that I felt and still feel for them. I have found that the same feeling now extends to my grandchildren.
A relationship is not based on unconditional love. We come into a relationship with needs and a certain set of expectations even if those expectations are often unconscious. Love within the relationship grows as we feel confident that the person we are with loves us at least as much as we love them. A process of mutual give and take ensues and we are willing to compromise and yes, sacrifice, our needs and wants at times for the benefit of our loved one.
In an ideal situation of a deep seated love there is that feeling of being willing to fight to the death to protect that person. To put it less dramatically it is the same feeling that would prompt someone to take care of their spouse or loved one in the event that they become gravely ill. It is an uplifting feeling when you witness that kind of love.
But when does the concept of sacrifice break down and become something negative within the relationship? Well, it is when a relationship is out of balance and one person feels taken advantage of by the other. This can often be seen when a Narcissist has been able to attract a codependent people pleaser. The people pleaser works and works to make the Narcissist happy but to no avail. They can never do quite enough despite the sacrifice of their own needs and wants. It is this type of sacrifice that is poisonous to the individual and to the relationship. Sadly the process can continue for years unless the codependent wakes up and removes themselves from the relationship.
So, is a relationship all about sacrifice? The answer is that it could be or that it could come to that but it is only when a relationship is in balance and love has continued to blossom and grow that the sense of sacrifice is healthy.