You hear it all the time about relationships. I don’t know what happened, he/she changed. Too many people look at change as a bad thing. We get comfortable with our partners and we want everything to stay the same. But then we complain that there’s no excitement or passion left anymore. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is such thing as bad change. But the majority of people continue to grow and evolve throughout their lives. Hobbies, pursuits, passions, all these things change with the years. I think more likely, the problem is that your partner evolves while you stagnate. You’re comfortable and settled and, to be honest, stuck in a rut or a period of non-development, and they end up leaving you behind.
A healthy relationship, one where the couple isn’t joined at the hip and don’t have to share every little interest with each other (read: codependency) can survive; even thrive, in times of change. Change can keep you falling in love all over again for years. People need to be whole by themselves. They need hobbies and pursuits that are their own. They need to learn and grow as individuals as well as part of a couple. The unhealthy relationship, the one where people give up the core of what makes them individuals, will never survive change. Because you’re far too dependent on the other person to make you happy to ever actually be happy.
So let’s say you’re in an unhealthy relationship; can you make it healthy? That depends on whether or not you’re willing to work on yourself (ditto for your partner, because it took two of you to get there) and make changes for the better. If you two have enough in common that you enjoy, an undeniable bond, and a lot of love, you should be able to make it work. You’ll need to be supportive and encouraging of your partner and yourself. You’ll need to step outside your comfort zone and make time for personal pursuits. You’ll need to schedule time to connect with your partner as well.
Most of all, you’re going to have to be honest with your partner and yourself. You’re going to have to hash out everything that doesn’t work and then let it go so you can focus on what does work. Dwelling on what’s broken never fixes anything. By turning your focus to what does work, the things that go right, you can work to repeat that behavior and build on it. I’ve seen relationships survive change, infidelity, lying, and a whole host of other “deal breakers”. I’ve seen relationships thrive in times of chaos, because the couple is supportive of each other and honest with one another.
I’ve also seen relationships die because one partner felt they needed to hide their desire for change or the change itself, even when the other person would have been supportive. Change makes us uncertain and if you don’t feel you can trust your partner to encourage you and cheer you on, it can be a daunting thing to share with them. Sometimes you have to rip off the Band-Aid or open the book. Lay everything on the table and bare your darkest inner corner to make progress. Is it scary? Of course. Will you come out on the other side (no matter the result) better off? Absolutely.
A person should never live in fear of being who they are or who they evolve into. Someone who truly loves you will accept you, flaws and change and all. Your partner should be able to accept your deepest fears, listen to your most secret dreams and nightmares, and grab a pompom and cheer you on for your every accomplishment. And you should provide your partner with the same.
Do you remember when you fell in love, the conversations you would have. The long and involved conversations about your life, your past, and your dreams for the future? When was the last time you talked to your partner like you did when you were still dating? If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, then I’d be willing to bet either you have evolved (at least a little) or you want to. Have a “dating” conversation again and see what happens.
Strive for that healthy relationship. Look to grow as an individual as well as a couple. Focus on what goes right, try to avoid what goes wrong, and for goodness sake, stop fearing change. Change keeps things fresh.
Just a random musing from…
- How to Have a Healthy Relationship (everydayhealth.com)
- A Relationship Timeline? (itsmindblowing.wordpress.com)