I think we’ve all been guilty of being in this eternal cycle of loving people into their potential. We think that if we love someone hard enough, we can change them for the better or we can change them back into the person they used to be. However, as we go along in life, we realize that it doesn’t work that way at all.
No matter how hard you love them and no matter the amount of sacrifices you’ve made for them, ultimately someone only changes if they want to. As humans, we have this habit of seeing the good in people, even as we see the red flags. Even as you’re dating them and you feel in your gut that something just isn’t right, we excuse that behavior in the hopes that they’re going to be better. Even as they change tremendously for the worst and they become the opposite of the person you fell in love with, we feed ourselves with lies that we can inspire them to change. And while these may be true, more often than not, it leads to nothing but our own disappointment and heartbreak.
The truth is, it was never our responsibility to fix, save, or change them. Just like with ourselves, their darkness should never have been our burden to carry. We can help them carry their baggage, but they have to be strong enough to conquer it. Life is painful enough, and having to carry their burden as your own is unfair and will lead to your own destruction. After all, you can’t save someone without damaging yourself with their broken pieces. You can only love them, but even love alone isn’t enough to heal them from their own darkness. The only way they’re going to change is if they want to for themselves and nobody else. You can be the light to their healing, but you shouldn’t have to mend the broken pieces of their life. Even as a significant other, that’s never something you’re supposed to carry for them.
We think that if we tolerate their bad behaviors and bad habits they will somehow love us more and maybe decide one day to change their lives. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen. In reality, we just hold on to the potential of loving someone until the brim of our breaking point. In reality, no amount of love can ever change or heal someone from drowning in their own darkness. You can help them breathe, but they have to be the hero in their own story. They have to be the ones to swim against their own demons. Otherwise, they’d be inflicting pain on other people in the process of their healing, including you.