“You were red and you liked me because I was blue.
You touched me and suddenly I was a lilac sky.
And you decided purple just wasn’t for you.”
It’s natural for you to change when you’re in a relationship. You may find that some of your interests change over time, this can be because of your partner’s influence, it may be that you discover new things about yourself by doing things your partner enjoys. It’s normal for these changes to change parts of your relationships too. It may bring you closer, but also the opposite can happen, you may discover something new about yourself that will not dwell within your relationship.
Major factors such as realizing you don’t want to have kids may make or break your relationship. You may realize that you want different things or even that your partner is who you want to be with for the rest of your life.
Ultimately changes are a common thing to occur in a relationship and this can help or hinder the progress of your relationship. This is okay, it’s part of life.
I want to discuss the side of things where your partner begins to change you, you does it so subtly that before you know it you’ve actually become a person you don’t recognize.
You see, your partner might not realize it but by changing you, they’re actually getting rid of the person that they once fell in love with. If they do that then can they actually be loving the real you?
I am absolutely in love with my partner, he’s my best friend, sometimes he knows me even better than I know myself, but that’s okay because the same can be said for me.
Our relationship is not perfect, though, sometimes we can get into such huge arguments and most of the time it leads us to both sitting down and airing out our grievances about each other.
“I don’t like how you do this, maybe you could do it this way?”
“I wish you would stop doing this, can you try to stop?”
We literally turn every argument into some kind of therapy session and for the most part, it works.
What we didn’t realize was that all those ‘mini therapy sessions’ meant that those qualities the other wanted changing were actually connected to a bigger part of our personality that was changing the kind of person we were.
Whilst some criticisms are harmless, like asking your partner to be a little more proactive in the house or even being courteous of where they leave their dirty laundry, there are bigger ones that can actually harm the person even if they don’t share this straight away.
One day during an argument I told my partner how frustrated I was that he kept leaving his dirty socks on top of the chest of drawers instead of the washing basket in the bathroom, he tried to be funny which wasn’t appreciated by me, having come home from a difficult working day I was already angry. In my annoyance, I told him that I hated how he whistled.
I didn’t think much of this statement, in the heat of the moment I had forgotten that my observation over the years of my partner I had realized that when he whistled he was either extremely anxious. Whilst his high pitched whistling would annoy me a lot, I had always been grateful for his subconscious tick which meant that I would know when he was feeling anxious and may need some time to just relax or even talk through what was bothering him.
In this particular argument he acknowledged how he had annoyed me, and made a conscious effort to start putting his laundry in the basket, he also ceased to whistle. This caused a negative impact on him, I noticed how he became more subdued and I could no longer notice the subtle ways he would say he was feeling anxious. I’m glad he’s back to whistling, I can see now it helps relieve him of his stress.
When my partner and I first met we were both first-year students at University. We were always going out and seeing friends, whether it was together or apart we were both very sociable people. I remember early on in our relationship he expressed in an argument that he wished we could see each other more. It wasn’t until a few years later that those words came back and I developed a fear of missing an opportunity to be with him. I stopped seeing friends as much and didn’t really do much without my partner. Whilst he explains now that he hadn’t meant he wanted us to only have each other as company the damage had already been done years before.
The subtle changes people can make during the course of a relationship may not seem like a lot but over time they can become a completely different person.
You may not like how long someone takes to get ready but remember that in the early stages of a relationship, the impression you leave is a big deal, so when your girlfriend wants to take an hour to do their makeup let them, because the moment they stop doing that, stop taking care of themselves, you’ll realize that you miss that part of their personality.
That is just one example by the way.
I remember I had a boyfriend who had told me off for being too talkative at a party, he said that I talked a lot but had little to say and it affected me so much and I became very aware of how I was presenting myself at parties, pretty soon I developed a fear of speaking too loudly or coming across as stupid so I would only speak when spoken too. Looking back at it now it made no sense, it was such a stupid fear to develop but at the time it was a genuine thing that made me so anxious.
Relationships are so fragile because we don’t realize how much we can damage another person by having so much access to them on a personal level.
Whilst I have learned my lesson about the whistling thing, my partner and I have changed each other a lot over the years. Some for the good and some for the bad.
We became aware of the bad ways we’ve changed since I lost my job and we started evaluating our lives. We’re a work in progress and we are taking the steps to make the changes to become our original (but improved selves).
For a long time, I lost a big part of myself, I forgot what it was like to laugh and have my independence. I became so reliant on my partner because he insisted I needed to depend on him more. Now we realize together that whilst it’s important to trust and count on your partner, they cannot be your only source of support, you should also have your friends and family but most importantly yourself.
When I first met my partner he was a dedicated rugby player, he lived for getting muddy, running around and being part of the team. I hated it when he’d come to see me and be covered in bruises or a black eye. I constantly worried about him, not just on the field but his rugby friends were always getting drunk, not just drunk and being silly but drunk and getting stupid, forcing each other to do weird or dangerous things. I somehow managed to talk him into being less involved so that when we graduated he decided not to sign up to a rugby club. The thing is now that I’m an ‘actual adult’ and not just a student, I can see how important having a hobby is, I can see how much he misses it, slowly but surely we’re trying to find a club for him to join, despite the same fears being there, I know that the fun and friendship he can find will do him a lot more good than it will harm him.
Not all changes we’ve made on each other has been bad, though.
Because of my partner, I actually matured. During the early stages of our relationship I was still very conscious of how relationships for me went, I was so used to people leaving that I didn’t invest much time in thinking about our relationship long term, I always reminded him that he knew where the door was and that I would rather he left whilst I was awake instead of waking up to him gone. For several months if he had a lecture before me or needed to go early in the morning he would always wake me up just so I knew he was going. He always made a point of telling me he was coming back even if I didn’t ask him to. Because of him, I learned to trust people again; I learned to allow myself to be vulnerable but also how to remain strong during difficult times.
The first few years of our relationship was all about discovering each other. We were both pretty new at relationships and were trying to find out what worked for us. Absolute honesty, taking every day as it came rather than making any major long term plans, but something we struggled was truly opening up to each other. My partner was particularly bad about this, he was honest, he told the truth, he could talk about the future and the present but he struggled to talk about the past. It wasn’t like he was beaten as a kid; he wasn’t abused or suffered horrific childhood traumas. He did have a difficult past, he went through some things that were still difficult for him to talk about, he hadn’t really processed it before but over the years he began to open up. I saw that some of his past experiences had a profound effect on him. Somedays I feel like he struggles to share that side of him because he is so used to looking put together and strong, like he has lived a lucky life that he doesn’t have a right to struggle with what has happened, like he hasn’t come to terms with it because he feels like it was no big deal, but deep down he is still very affected by it. The change once he began to open up has made a huge difference to the way he is now. He is able to share more openly, he allows himself to be vulnerable too, as long as he feels he is in a safe place. That is important for someone, to feel like they have a safe place to be themselves.
Another way he has changed over the years is that he is more vocal about how he feels. When I first met him he struggled to stick up for himself if it meant showing his real emotions. I hated seeing him let someone talk badly about him, he would shrug it off and say it was just banter, I would complain to him that it wasn’t right to take it on the chin if it actually hurt him. Banter and joking were one thing but if it was upsetting and embarrassing someone they shouldn’t stand for it. His Mum would always comment negatively on something he did, and because of her treatment of me, my patience ran thin. One day during the car ride back home after an excruciatingly painful dinner at his Mothers I asked him simply why he allowed her to speak to him in such a poor way. He shrugged his shoulders and simply said ‘That’s just the way she is.’
‘But why is she like that? If my Mum spoke to me like that I would tell her to stop being a bitch.’ I replied.
Don’t get me wrong I never wore at my Mum or criticized her, but if she did something I felt was wrong I would call her out on it, I would not stand her name calling me or anyone else and I was certainly not going to take it from a basic stranger to me. My partner stayed silent but we eventually had this same conversation over and over again over the years. Eventually, she hit her peak at being unfairly critical and rude and he stood up to her. He called her out on it and she was shocked at his response. He took a stand, stood up for himself, she didn’t expect it and this was clear from her reaction. After that day her behavior has improved, I doubt she’ll ever really be nice but she has become more bearable since that day. I was so proud of my partner, it wasn’t just to her that he’s stood his ground, he has gained a new appreciation for himself and now knows how to stick up for himself.
So there are different changes we can all go through being in a relationship.
I think the main thing to take from it is that we should appreciate each other’s individualities. We should accept that people will have quirks that we may not like but that we also have things about ourselves that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Before you go trying to change things about your partner remember all the reasons you fell in love with them. Remember the important things, not just the shallow things. Remember that wedding vows say ‘sicknesses and health, thick and thin, richer and poorer’ just because you’re not married doesn’t mean those ways of telling your partner you love them doesn’t apply. They do, through the good and the bad you need to consider their feelings. Remember that if you change them too much then they won’t be who you fell in love with, in fact, they may become someone you don’t like anymore.
Always remember that we’re all a work in progress and we’re bound to change from time to time, the point is to grow and improve alongside your partner. That is what differentiates between boyfriend/girlfriend relationships and partnerships. Whilst he is my boyfriend, I consider him my partner, in life, in love. I intend to spend the rest of my life with him, but this can only happen if we mix compromising with understanding and patience.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud every day!
Peace and Love