Should we accept our partners for who they are and not expect them to make changes?


“Don’t change for anyone!” is a common phrase we say to our love troubled friends. But is this really the best advice we can offer to the ones we care about?

I always imagined that relationships were about accepting our partner for who they are, warts and all. If their flaws are just too much then you know where the door is, and make sure you leave it open for the knight-in-shining armour who should be arriving soon after your departure.

However, I’ve met people who think that it’s a partner’s responsibility to help their other half become the best version of themselves, even if this means encouraging them to make dramatic changes to their life choices and behaviours. My own boyfriend falls into this category and I have to admit that it’s taken me a long time to see this as a desired trait in someone whose job it is to be your biggest fan.

But if he were to sing my praises and even occasionally cheer my name in appreciation of his imagined perfection of me, then I wouldn’t be inclined to change behaviours that could be hindering not only to the relationship but also my personal wellbeing.

Here’s an example: I hate the gym. In an ideal world I would come home from work, put my feet up and enjoy an evening of TV whilst munching on biscuits. The only reason I drag myself to Body Pump three times a week is because I feel pressured by my partner to go. This might sound alarming to some; no man should make you do anything you don’t want to do! Sit on your bum and stuff your face with cake if that’s what makes you happy. If it weren’t for him though I wouldn’t be as fit and healthy. His disapproval of coach potatoness (here we go again with potatoes) actually means that I feel better about myself.

All of us can improve on some aspect of our character, even God needs to work on his temper. Thinking that our personalities are innate however can often prevent us from making these positive changes. “I was born this way” shouldn’t be a justification for being a c u next Tuesday. Is it really necessary for our self-identity to be a constant and therefore somewhat inflexible? I would argue that it isn’t but that’s a big existential debate that I’ll save that for another time.

You could have a girlfriend who wants you to be a bit tidier, a boyfriend who wants you to eat fewer takeaways, or mum who would prefer that you weren’t so quick to argue. Changing these things doesn’t mean that you’re not being true to yourself; it means that you’re accepting that you have flaws that can be worked on. Take this as an opportunity to be a more organised, healthy and amicable person and then use it as compassionate ammunition to get them to make changes that will make your life easier too!

If you feel different let me know in the comments below. 

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