Love can change your world, but should you let it change who you are as a person?
When you’re in the throes of passion, you might feel like you’d do absolutely anything for the person you love. And that you’d do it with a smile on your face.
But in the long run, changing – or trying to change – who you are will spell nothing but trouble if the change isn’t authentic and natural.
When you’re in love with someone, they’re likely to be the person you spend most of your time with.
And since we continually absorb information from and observe the behavior of those around us, your partner is bound to have an influence on your character and your habits, whether or not you’re conscious of it.
It’s a wonderful thing to learn from a lover. If they can introduce you to new ideas, concepts, and experiences, your relationship will be all the richer.
Compromise is also a massive part of a relationship, as no two people will be able to slot seamlessly into each other’s lives without both of them making a little space.
However, you can’t force yourself to change, and you need to consider whether any changes you do make will be positive for the two of you after the initial flush of love has worn off.
You’ll also need to ask whether you’re making the changes because you want to for the sake of your relationship or you have found yourself being pressured to by your partner.
Every relationship is different, but it is very beneficial for your relationship for you to consider whether the changes you’re making to yourself are healthy or unhealthy.
Change is positive when…
1. You’re becoming a ‘better’ person.
Everyone’s idea of what makes a ‘good’ person is different, but if you’re changing to become a more understanding, accepting, loving, or caring person, that’s always a positive.
When we’re in love with someone, we genuinely strive to become a better person. We want to be the best partner we can be. After all, love is as much about giving as it is receiving.
2. You’re expanding your horizons.
If your partner introduces you to new worlds that mean you expand your knowledge and push the boundaries of your comfort zone – by trying new things or going to new places – it can be incredibly enriching for you.
Changing your views on politics or the lens you see the world through, or learning about a movement for good that they’re passionate about, like feminism or veganism, can also be a great thing.
Just make sure that you don’t leave behind any interests or causes that are close to your heart in favor of things that are shiny and new, unless your interest in them really is genuine.
3. The changes are insignificant or reasonable.
There’s a whole spectrum of changes that people make when in relationships, some of which are neither here nor there, and others that are pretty radical.
It’s important not to sweat the small stuff. If your partner would quite like you to throw out a certain item of clothing or get a haircut, and it doesn’t really matter to you either way but you know it’s important to them, then do it.
Small changes do not mean you’re betraying who you are. Not growing a beard really needn’t be that much of a big deal.
In the same way, there are bound to be some things that you will just have to compromise on in order to make your relationship work.
Whilst you might find someone who’s pretty close to perfect for you, no one is truly perfect. You’ll need to be willing to adapt in order to make it work with someone wonderful.
There’s a difference between changing yourself as a person because you want someone to love you and changing small things about yourself because you want things to work with someone who already loves you for who you are.
If you have any bad habits, for example, such as lateness or untidiness, or you’re even a total neat freak, it’s completely reasonable for your partner to expect you to make an effort to work on those things.
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4. You’re becoming healthier.
It often isn’t until someone else becomes an important part of our lives that we start to realize that we need to look after ourselves.
Loving someone means we want to give them our best, and poor health could affect them down the line. So if your partner encourages you to quit smoking, start exercising more, or eat a better diet, see this as a positive.
5. You change the way you approach conflict.
If you find that the two of you are mismatched in the way you approach arguments, that’s something you need to be willing to solve.
If one of you avoids conflict at all cost and the other one wants to dive right in and is very direct, you need to figure out how you can both adapt to make sure that you can discuss your differences in a healthy way.
Change is negative when…
1. You resent them for it, or you will in future.
It’s all well and good changing the way you are for someone in the now, when the hormones make those changes seem like the most natural thing in the world because you’re so in love.
But before you get swept away by a tidal wave of emotions, consider if you’ll still be just as happy with the decisions you make now a few months or years down the line.
Resentment can spell the end of any relationship, so don’t lay the groundwork for it. Do your best to stay true to who you are from day one.
2. You’re under pressure.
If you are going to change yourself for someone you love, that should be entirely your decision, and you should be conscious of it, and doing it for the right reasons.
You shouldn’t be doing it because you feel like you need to change fundamental things about yourself in order to earn somebody’s love.
You are wonderful just the way you are, and anyone you’re in a relationship with should love you that way. Whilst compromise is important, love shouldn’t be something you have to earn by molding yourself into your partner’s dream lover.
Whether your partner openly pressures you to change or does so by dropping small hints, it’s not healthy.
You are who you are, and whilst you’ll always grow and change throughout your life, you should never be made to feel like you’re not worthy of love just as you are.
3. It’s entirely one-sided.
It’s normal for one party to end up making more changes than the other – for example, moving for the relationship – but if it’s all one person then that’s when it becomes concerning.
You should both be willing to change and compromise in order to make your relationship work.
4. You neglect other important people in your life.
Changing to the extent that you stop spending time with the other people you love is never a good idea.
Whilst, if you’re lucky, your family will always be there, your friends might not take kindly to being dumped in favor of a significant other, especially if you expect them to be there waiting should the relationship ever end.
You should always make sure you have your own life outside of your relationship and spend quality time with your friends. After all, romantic love may well not be forever, but a good friend will have your back until the day you die.
Be prepared to compromise.
In order to make a relationship work, you will have to compromise. It’s inevitable. Being able to compromise on the small stuff – and sometimes the big stuff – whilst still staying true to yourself is vital for relationship success.
If you look at the insignificant stuff as betraying your integrity, your relationship isn’t likely to get very far. But if you allow yourself to get lost in the relationship or hand over the steering wheel to your life to your partner, resentment is bound to develop.
It’s all about finding that zone where you’re ready and willing to change… for the right reasons.