Are you making the mistake of trying to change someone in a relationship?
If your goal is to build an intimate, loving, and long-lasting relationship,
There are certain things you need to stop doing.
Love isn’t about fixing someone or asking them to change –for you.
Many of us spend time blaming our relationship problems on negative traits in our partner.
This behavior is disastrous for your relationship because it further divides you and your partner.
On January 13th, 2018,
I had a realization that changed my perspective and approach towards romantic relationships -forever.
It was my birthday.
I was trying to take a hard look at my failed relationship
The full horror of the heartbreak only hit home when I started seeing the part I played as I took a long trip down memory lane.
A lot of things happened in my first relationship.
And many of which I’m not proud of. Perhaps I could have done better.
However, that fateful day was an “aha moment” for me.
I had so many invaluable insights in introspection.
But, there’s an excerpt, in particular, I want to draw your attention to.
John Maxwell was right when he said, “experience isn’t the best teacher. Evaluated experience is.” I agree with him.
Not until I took an honest look at my failed relationship,
Did I begin to learn priceless lessons that have stuck with me till this day.
In this true-life story, I’d share with you how trying to change my partner ruined everything.
And why you should stop trying to change someone in a relationship.
I don’t know about you, but as for me,
I grew up being overwhelmed with millions of messages on how ‘real’ love should feel like, look like…and act like.
Turn on your PC or mobile phone, browse through the newsfeeds of any social media platform.
Skim through the pages of your favorite magazine or read any romantic novel.
The idea of how ‘real’ love should be presented or behave is everywhere.
Many of us (I inclusive) fall victim to these messages because they tug at our heartstrings.
They remind us of what we strongly desire and deserve.
They subconsciously communicate to our spirit to search for better and keep looking for love in the highest form.
But what if these messages aren’t telling the whole truth?
Is real love about finding the perfect person?
What if real love isn’t about finding someone who changes him/herself to become the person you need?
What if these messages are all BS (Bullshit and total crap)?
Could it be that we’re all missing out on what real love is by believing these silly lies we take to heart?
Those questions preoccupied my mind as I sat in my room with my left palm under my jaw as I stared into space.
The thing is this:
I’m a growth-oriented person who’s passionate about personal development.
Nothing gives me joy than to see people bloom and thrive around me.
So, I grew with this idea that I could change anyone,
Especially those I love and believe they had great potential
When I met my ex-girlfriend a few years back,
It didn’t take long to see how I could nurture and grow her into the woman I thought she could be,
Or I should say, “the ideal image of the woman I had in my head.”
I wasn’t comfortable with her entitlement and victim mentality and her pessimistic outlook on seemingly everything.
Don’t get me wrong. She was such a pretty girl with a beautiful soul.
But, she allowed her past experiences and upbringing to color her perspective about life. And that really held her back.
I wanted to help her change all that,
So she could develop a hero and possibility mindset and reach for her dreams.
So, I became obsessed with her growth that I was constantly looking for ways to expose her to new opportunities.
I encouraged her and was busy trying to create the right environment for her to flourish.
I made her read books, take courses, and attend conferences,
Even though they weren’t really her thing.
My underlying reason was to help change her perspective and mindset about herself, people, circumstances, and life in general.
I felt the more improved her perspective about life was,
The better off she would be and so would our relationship. I was wrong!
So, she became a project to me.
In this article I will share with you the things that went wrong in my relationship,
And the invaluable lesson you can learn from it.
7 Reasons Why You Should Stop Trying To Change Someone In A Relationship
1. People Don’t Change Because You Want Them To
Let me rephrase that:
“People hardly change –particularly if they don’t want to.”
This should be obvious, right?
Clearly, it isn’t at least to many of us. I learned this the hard way.
When I noticed my ex’s negative outlook on life and relationship,
I knew it was a matter of time before bringing her negative energy into our relationship.
I wanted to help her improve her thinking,
So I recommended some books and audio programs.
As you might guess, she tried changing to please me for a while.
But it didn’t last.
She reverted to her natural state as soon as I removed the pressure.
But I wanted personal development to be second nature to her.
We went back and forth on this until both of us became frustrated,
And she even began to resent me for it.
One vital lesson this taught me was,
“People don’t change because you want them to. They only change because they want to.”
This basic understanding of human behavior changed my approach toward helping others.
I realized that love in its purest form isn’t enough to change a person’s fundamental upbringing.
You either loves them for who they are or let them go (if you can’t cope.)
You may have sincere intentions towards your partner,
But if they don’t want the change, they’ll return to their old ways in no time.
Change is hard. Trying to stretch someone beyond their comfort zone can get uncomfortable.
Some may even snap mentally in the process.
And that brings me to the next point I want to make.
2. Perspective is everything
You may have heard this before, “when you change your perspective, the way you look at things will change.” It’s true!
Changing your perspective doesn’t mean you should condone any form of negative behavior.
What it means is that your expectations have an impact on how you perceive and feel about your partner.
“Our perspective towards people determines our attitude towards them.”
And the funny thing is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re right or wrong.
How you see people determine how you treat them.
This is why having the right perspective is so important.
Perspective is everything. That’s why sometimes,
You have to consider the possibility that your partner may not be the problem in your relationship.
I know this may be hard for you to accept, but it’s true.
Often, the problem is our perspective on things or/and our partner.
“If you see your partner as weak, you’d want to help them.
If you see them as broken, you’d want to fix them.
But if you see them as valuable, you’d want to serve them.”
The problem I had in my previous relationship was that I saw my ex as broken and weak.
So I did everything to fix her.
She became a project that I needed to work on every day.
The problem is this; nobody wants to be fixed or worked on.
People can see right through it because you don’t accept them for who they are. They resent it…and she did.
At some point, she felt she couldn’t just measure up anymore.
By the time I began to shift my perspective about her and started serving her as a valuable person, it was too late.
What I’m trying to say is that you’d be surprised at how a simple shift in perspective,
Could be when it comes to handling problems in your relationship.
3. Focus On The Things You Can Control
This can be hard at times because blaming others for our problems is easy. For many of us, it’s an escape route.
Since I’m a positive kind of guy,
I believe that I always have a better perspective on things than my ex.
I didn’t see any reason why I needed to change.
But I soon realized that it was a powerless behavior.
Powerful people are not infected or affected by their environment or the behavior of others. They don’t insist on others to change.
Powerful people do not control other people because they know it doesn’t work.
The only person they try to control is themselves.
You can’t change others. You can only change yourself.
Instead of always insisting on their partners to change,
Powerful people look within themselves and focus on the things they can change on their own.
This is the stance you want to take in your relationship.
4. Insisting On Changing Your Partner Makes You Lose Sight Of The Issues At Hand.
I’ve observed over time that most of the issues we face in our relationships are brought about by external factors,
And this means that trying to change our partner won’t necessarily address the issue(s) at hand. Most times, it results in arguments.
I had to learn to ask myself: what am I trying to accomplish here?
It’s incredible how asking this simple question helped me to separate my partner from the problem at hand.
5. Trying To Change Your Partner Stifles Communication
People don’t break up with each other because of problems.
They break up because there’s a lack of connection.
And connection is sustained and strengthened through communication.
No matter how complicated a problem may be in a relationship,
It can be resolved through healthy and honest communication.
Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship.
No relationship survives without it.
So, you can imagine what happens when communication is broken in a relationship.
It got to a point in my previous relationship; my ex-girlfriend stopped talking to me.
She stopped sharing her concerns, feelings, and thoughts about things.
Because she felt I was consistently criticizing and judging her for being negative.
See, if your goal is to build a loving relationship,
You’ve got to be thoughtful about respectfully expressing your concerns and feelings.
Don’t speak in such a way that destroys your partner’s self-esteem and confidence.
6. It Can Generate ILL Feelings And Resentment
There must be an intimate and romantic connection between the parties involved for any relationship to work.
When you constantly focus on changing your partner,
You drive a wedge in between the two of you.
And negativity is what you must avoid at all costs if you must preserve happiness and love in your relationship.
The more I tried to change my partner,
The more she resented and hated me for it.
And our relationship became a ticking bomb waiting to go off as a result of resentment and hatred that have brewed over time.
7. Trying To Change Your Partner Can Lead To The End Of The Relationship
Research has it that one of the leading causes of divorce is when partners criticize each other.
The thing is, criticizing is quite different from voicing a complaint or offering a critique.
The latter two are about specific problems or issues,
Whereas the former is a strong attack on the person.
Consequently, when you criticize or try changing someone,
You’re cutting to the core of their character or being.
In other words, you’re asking them to change who they are for you.
You must understand that you aren’t entitled to having your partner change or adjust to whatever you want.
It got to a point; my ex couldn’t take the heat anymore.
My unreasonable and constant demands on her were overwhelming.
As a result, the time bomb on our relationship eventually went off.
Over the years, I’ve observed that people try to change the essence of their partner’s being,
To better fit into the narrative they’re trying to form for them.
You should realize that you can’t force your partner (or anyone else) to act in ways that are unnatural to them to make you happy.
Love isn’t about fixing your partner or trying to make them different or better for you because you feel you deserve that.
The truth is, some people need to find their way at their own pace.
If you’re in a relationship waiting for your partner to change,
Then you’re waiting for something that will never happen.
Of course, your partner will change, but not in ways that you can control.