New Year, new me, new you? The damaging effects of trying to change your partner.

The resolutions have been made, you’ve decided what you will change to become the person you want to be for the forthcoming year. It’s at this point you turn to your partner and assess what they should improve upon to become their better self. You’re helping your partner, simply lifting them to higher levels, it’s all for their benefit, or is it?

Trying to change a partner doesn’t say much about the partner but more about the individual who is trying to modify their loved one’s thoughts and actions. It exhibits an egotistical thought pattern whereby they believe the way they do things is the right way and so their partner should accommodate themselves to fall in line. It also suggests a lack of appreciation for your partner’s thoughts and opinions and diminishes their individuality. Distinctiveness in a relationship is incredibly important, contrary to some people’s beliefs. Though you may work as a pair, it is essential to remember that you are two wholes who have chosen to come together rather than two halves making a whole. Your partner may have similar interests, values and way of life, but they are still a separate person, whose opinions will at some point differ. This by no means is a negative and allows you and your partner to have healthy debates and to equally challenge one another.    

Regardless of whether the reasons for wanting to change your partner are rooted in what you believe to be compassion for that person, the consequences of trying to change someone frequently result in the opposite of what you were trying to achieve. Instead of gratitude, appreciation and admiration you will receive anger, resentment and bitterness. A distance is created that may not have been there once and overcompensating for this gap may only make it bigger. If you are looking to have a successful relationship with that person, then there needs to be an acknowledgment that although changes may need to be made, they may be ones you need to make in yourself, as opposed to changing others. Instead of directing your energy, focus and motivations on the misconception that you have control over someone else, turn those efforts internally and you will find a positive difference in yourself.   

Positivity in yourself and understanding that we cannot change someone without being manipulative, self-serving and controlling, will allow you to be free of the burden of seeking perfection or the ‘ideal’ partner. A happier you equals a happier relationship and you may just find that those behaviours you sought to change in your partner become endearing. After all, no man or woman is perfect, and we must remember to love all of someone, even their quirks, if we are to find true love.