The Truth About Changing Them


You won’t. Because you can’t.

Whether you know it now, or you’re still in the process of learning this truth, at some point you will understand that the only person you can control in your life is yourself. Other people can be manipulated, bullied, guilted, pleaded with. But the only way they are going to truly change is of their own accord, from the inside out.

But it feels better to just hope for change anyway, to hope that they start behaving differently so that you can fix (what’s left of) your relationship. So that you don’t have to start over, completely lost, after who knows how many months, or years. When you’ve given so much of yourself to a relationship and to another person, it seems so much easier to stay, and hope that eventually they’ll magically be different, than it is to let go and move on.

Sometimes, the change really is necessary: they’re abusive, or unfaithful, or unbelievably selfish, or even just completely apathetic to the relationship. Sometimes, the change is just something you need from a relationship that they seem to be lacking: you wish they were more lighthearted, you wish they cared more about family, you wish they liked the same things you did.

But whether the desire for change is out of righteousness or plain old preference is irrelevant, because it’s not something you will ever have the power to bring about. You can beg, hope, ask, plead, blackmail, tempt, motivate, guilt. But you will never be able to change their essence, unless they want to change.

That’s one of the hardest parts about relationships. Understanding the difference between being flexible and willing to compromise, versus standing your ground when you know you deserve better. The difference between having high standards and finding a person who truly loves you, versus having a demanding, ridiculous list of expectations, none of which you are willing to bend on and all of which are impossible to uphold at the same time.

But it’s also one of the keys to being the happy in your love life. Being able to understand when to stay, and when to walk away. When you’re being shallow and high-maintenance, and when you’re just being firm about the treatment you know you deserve.

You can’t force someone to love you, to treat you a certain way. To be honest, faithful, supportive, and kind. But you can love yourself enough to acknowledge when you’re being treated wrongly and when you deserve better.

It’s not about changing them. It never has been. If you’re doing research and brainstorming ways that you can ‘fix’ them, you’re fighting a losing battle. The only direction you should be turning is inward. Listen to yourself, listen to your gut. If they’re mistreating you in some way, you’ll know. If you’re just being overly demanding, you’ll know (if you really, honestly listen to yourself). You do not have the power to change them. What you do have is the power to decide whether or not you’re going to stay. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I’m a staff writer for Thought Catalog. I like comedy and improv. I live in Chicago. My Uber rating is just okay.

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