Many people think or say that they don’t want a romantic relationship to change them because they want to be themselves. While the last bit is true and we do need one that allows us to be our true selves, any relationships will change us. Remembering this is key for building a good romantic relationship.
I find the idea of not wanting to change who we are after we start a romantic relationship fascinating. In a culture which is very focused on telling us to find our own unique identity, making sure you are true to who you are no matter what, the advice about not wanting to change sounds wise.
But it isn’t really that simple.
Change Is Inevitable
I say that because people naturally change over time. The ‘me’ of three years ago is different to the current ‘me’. You will be different in 5 years. Whether we’re in a romantic relationship or not, people change over time.
In relationships, change is unavoidable, especially in romantic ones. Partners serve each other and make sacrifices for each other all the time. In small and big ways.
In relationships, change is unavoidable
I know a few couples who eat less/no meat because they started a relationship with a vegetarian. Something they thought they would never do.
I know people who watch a lot of sport even though they don’t like it, because their partner does. There are friends of mine who moved cities, even countries, to support the job of their partner.
All these things, big or small, reflects the fact that people change. They compromise and they make sacrifices to make the relationship work. Relationships affect the way we think and what we can and can’t do.
So what does this mean? Obviously, we don’t want any relationship, romantic or otherwise, to go against our deep held values or change us for the worse. But we need to be aware that change is inevitable.
Without this mind set, it can stop our relationship from working.
I remember a relative telling me that someone he knew broke off a relationship because she wanted the windows open all the time but he wanted them closed.
Sounds mad right?
To be fair, this issue was more like the final straw. He just wasn’t prepared to adjust and make changes in general, and this was the breaking point. I remember someone else sitting down with a long list of requirements that his new girlfriend had to adjust to, and he had absolutely no sense that she may also have a list for him.
(Net) Positive Change
We won’t always change purely for the better either. My wife would say that I’m very laid back, and this has allowed her to be more relaxed too. She says this is a good thing. But I would say I have also made her a bit more cynical too.
We can strive towards it being mainly positive by being intentional
Overall, we both believe being in this relationship has changed us for the better. But no one is perfect, no couple is perfect, so not all the changes will be positive. (Read ‘The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship)
But we can strive towards it being mainly positive by being intentional, and thinking about what we want to build.
Lesson For Love
The real thing to remember as we build, is that a relationship isn’t about the other person fitting around all of our needs. And change is inevitable.
This is why it’s so important to be intentional when it comes to romantic relationships. (Read Unhealthy Relationship Expectations We Should All Know). We need to think about what we want to build and what our deepest values are. We need to communicate and make sure we can trust each other to allows us to be real, honest, and grow.
Imagine if we went into romantic relationships with the aim of enjoying them, but also with the realisation that we will change. So we had the intention to find some who will allow us to grow closer to our core values and vision for our lives.
Think about three things you would be/are willing to change, and three things you would not be/are not willing to change. It can help us think about what type of relationship we want to build.
How do you think you stay true to yourself, and grow in a relationship? Romantic or otherwise? Comments welcome below.