Change vs discovery

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One of the most common pieces of advice you hear about relationships is to avoid trying to change the other person. Be yourself as well as you can, and accept the other for who they are.

When you first begin to get to know a person you are newly attracted to, you are, of course, putting your best self forward. And you know they are doing the same.

The time you spend together — whether you call it ‘dating’ or something else — gradually reveals more of the other’s as well as your own authentic self within the safety of developing affection for each other. You most often cannot know immediately whether a relationship will work out, as sweet and exciting as the love-at-first-sight idea is.

At the beginning, the compatibilities seem obvious, comforting and enticing.

Sooner or later, incompatibilities or dislikes manifest themselves, and piece by piece, you each start making private micro-decisions as to their relative importance to the relationship as a whole. Until it becomes something you need to talk about.

And the one thing *not* to do is to try to change the other person…

I certainly do not want someone else trying to change me. However…

I absolutely do want to be challenged constructively, and thus helped to discover ways that i might continue to become a better me. I think that’s what happens in a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.

As you become more trusting of the other person’s affection and acceptance, you can show more of your real self. And where differences or conflicts arise, there is an opportunity for discovery.

You might discover that a trait of yours is problematic for the relationship because of how it interacts with the other’s comfort level or desires. And maybe you decide it’s a trait too central to your sense of self to change — so you eventually must determine whether the relationship can accommodate it.

Or you might discover an aspect of yourself you didn’t clearly see before. It comes into sharper view by learning how the other person sees you. Perhaps it’s related to something about you that you’d like to improve upon, and now you have a new opportunity to work toward that.

So discovery might lead to change. Not because changing the other was the objective, but because of discoveries.

Discoveries that come about from simply trying to love each other better each day.

12 thoughts on “Change vs discovery

  1. Insightful and well-articulated! I was thinking recently about how knowing another person can stay with you your whole life. Years or decades can pass with no communication, but when you see the person again, that combination of characteristics that make them them can be immediately recognized and re-engaged with. What an incredible thing relationships are.

  2. I think that is a pillar of a healthy relationship. You invest yourself in the relationship by doing things to improve yourself, to make you a better partner. I found treating my hubby with respect (not acting like his mother,) helps him make decisions that will earn more respect!

  3. A friend wrote me privately with this observation about relationships that i think is worth sharing:
    “If you don’t want someone to change you, don’t have any relationships! If you have relationships change is gonna happen, guaranteed!”

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