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Everyone changes in a relationship. If you’re together long enough, you can become a totally new person. I suppose that’s why it can be hard for ‘high school sweethearts’ to stay together. Not all, of course, but some. I think I believe that some people are soul mates. Or maybe they’re just better at relationships – and the adjusting and compromising that goes with them – than the rest of us.

Think of yourself in your teens (provided you’re not still in your teens or early twenties). How different are you now? Depending on the changes you go through, it can be hard for two people who fell in love at 16 to still be in love at 32. You’ve evolved into a new human being. Sometimes that human being is even more loveable than the original teenager. Sometimes, they’re just too different (not necessarily better or worse) to sustain a relationship with the same person. I talk about high school sweethearts only because it illustrates my point. This can apply to anyone in a relationship where individual growth or change has occurred. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a long term relationship either.

You always hear of friends saying how their newly-non-single friends have changed since starting a relationship. Of course they’re going to change. They’re spending nearly every waking moment with someone new, doing and experiencing things as a couple, instead of as just one person with a group of friends. It’s a new mindset and things are going to be different in some way, no matter how small. I suppose what they’re really complaining about is that they don’t have as much access to that person or now they have to share them with someone else or the person is floating some new ideas and opinions. Not everyone likes change (friends included).

What I often think about is how much of that change is just growing up and how much is stuff you’ve changed to please your partner? Some things we want to change – to make them happy, to strengthen the bond, to become a better person, whether in our own eyes or theirs. But some things you might not have wanted to change, didn’t even think of as something that needed to be “fixed”. Is changing yourself solely for your partner a good thing?

I suppose, to my mind, it depends on what you’re changing and how you feel about it. Changes to your individuality, such as your personal style, your interests, your likes and dislikes, your opinions, almost seems like censorship or brainwashing to me. But if you’re doing them because your partner’s individuality is more interesting (maybe not the right word) to you than your own, then why not? If you want to, fine. If they’re pressuring you to, not so fine.

We all need space to be ourselves, with our family, our friends and especially our partners. If we can’t feel comfortable in our own skin with the person who is supposed to love us just the way we are then things are pretty shitty. Change what you want, what you see as an improvement, but don’t compromise yourself for anyone. If they love you, they shouldn’t just love the bits and pieces they shaped and moulded for themselves. They should love the person you really are.

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