Of the million questions I have about life and love, one of the murkiest centers around the concept of “changing” for a partner. Most of us, especially today’s independent women, raise our eyebrows (if not our voices) in horror at the thought.
“Change me?” we think. “You want to change something about who I am? Well then clearly, we’re not right for eachother, because the ideal partner will love me for me, imperfections and all.”
Sounds good, right? I mean, I hope it’s true. I want to believe that is how it works. That said, I also realize that in any relationship, adjustments happen. I’ve haven’t had many beaus point out major flaws that need addressed, but when it has happened (because it does), I ask myself the following: Is this a fair point? Will I become a better person because of it, or does it change my core essence?
Navigating those answers is the tricky part! For example, I once had a boyfriend who said I got a little too angry at seemingly minor or just annoying events, such as bad traffic, rude people or things that were just out of my control. While I don’t throw things, become irrational or scream, I had to consider that he had a point: I do tend to seethe and/or curse a blue streak in those instances. (Of course, I think I’m also pretty funny about it, to be fair.) I didn’t necessarily like his correction, but I realized that indeed I could work on my stress management. It didn’t change who I was, but perhaps enhanced it.
In another relationship, my boyfriend (a doctor) began to get on my case about pursuing writing as it isn’t particularly lucrative. “Blanca, you’re so smart, why are you in journalism? Don’t you want to go into law and maybe politics? Or you would be great at running a company. Have you thought about that?”
Let’s just say we didn’t last much longer. That he wanted to rewrite my interests and pursuits was way outside my comfort zone, and made me realize he didn’t “get” who I am.
Have you been asked to change in large or small ways in your relationships? Were any of those requests valid or did you bail? And if you’ve been asked by many partners to “change” the same aspect about yourself, at what point do you think that maybe they were right?
Finally, what is fair “change” to ask someone to make, if any?