Many people look at their partners as projects. We see our partners as being full of potential and good qualities, we just need to “train” them a little bit and they will be perfect. This idea of “fixing” or “training” someone is not only ineffective, but it can often have the opposite effect if we arent careful where our energy is placed. The dangers of trying to change or fix someone include: pushing them away, creating the opposite of the desired effect, altering your own perceptions of your partners traits, and making the other person feel rejected. If you think the person you are with would be perfect if they would just _____ (fill in the blank), then this article might be for you.
Pushing them away.
Most of us can remember being 17 years old again: we were young, we were invincible, and damn it, no one could tell us what to do. We all know how it felt when our parents told us to clean our rooms, stay off the phone, or be nice to our cousin. So if we hate it so much when people tell us what to do, why do we try to tell the people we love how to behave? Often times trying to change, fix, or “train” someone will push them away from us. We turn the people we love into an object and create a void of nothingness between us. Trying to change the habit they have, might be the thing that drives you apart completely.
Creating the opposite of what you desire.
Often times when we try to change someone’s behavior they will give us even more of the thing we can’t stand. If someone tells you not to do something what’s the first thing you want to do? The thing they just told you not to! When someone tries to command us to do something our inner rebellion often stirs. We will often do more of the behavior just to spite this person. Its not always the case, but if you aren’t careful, you might push your partner into a corner where they decide to push back with even more of the same behavior.
Altering your own perceptions.
There are two sides to every coin, and we can only see one side at a time. Focusing on the side that needs fixing will detract from the side that is already perfect. Our minds are only able to focus intently on 1 thing, so if our attention is fixed on what we want to improve then we will often see a lot more things to improve. Just the act of trying to change another person can suddenly make us see a whole list of things they need to improve on. Deciding to love someone unconditionally and only guide and offer help when they want it is a much better recipe for a happiness. When you decide to focus on what your partner does wrong, you neglect all the things they do right; you create a self fulfilling prophecy that makes both of you unhappy. Wouldn’t it just be better to love a person just as they are?
Making the other person feel rejected.
When we feel loved and appreciated we will often do anything for a person, yet on the flipside, when we feel neglected, we often strike back. Rejection is a terrible emotion to feel, few things sting worse than feeling that the person you love doesn’t appreciate you. If you make a person feel appreciated they will be much more likely to be the best they can for you, but if you make a person feel like a failure they will often fulfill your expectations. A person who feels rejected will be even less likely to listen to you, and will learn to not seek refuge in you. Its far better to build up the people we love than to tear them down.
We all have to determine our priorities and needs in a relationship, and some people just aren’t a match for us; if you suddenly find yourself focusing on the negative aspects of your current partner ask yourself this: am I only looking at the bad here? If you ever find yourself at the point in the relationship where you feel the person has to change in order to make things work, chances are the relationship is already lost. The only way a person will change for you is if: they feel loved and accepted, they love and accept you, they truly cherish you, and they MAKE the decision to change on their own accord; people are very rarely successful at changing under force; people function much better when they are allowed to decide things for themselves and for their own personal desires. If there is a habit you really would like to see your partner change, try gently guiding them and let them know how you feel, be patient, give them time, tell them how much you appreciate them, let them choose to be what you need.
You cannot force a seed to grow, but if you water it, feed it, and nurture it, it just might turn into exactly what you seek.