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November 16, 2010

Are You Thinking, “I’ll Change Him”? If So…You’re In Trouble

Below is a post from my new blog https://lmerlobooth.typepad.com/straight_talk_4_women/ Enjoy!

IStock_0changell If You Think You’ll Change Him, You’re In Trouble
In my work with women, I often look at unhealthy patterns in their past relationships for clues to what may be playing out in their current or future relationships.  A common theme I hear is women believing they can change the men they meet.  For example, Bailey met Stan two years ago in a bar with friends.  Her first impression of Stan was that he needed a lot of attention -- specifically attention from women.  He was flirting with Bailey, her friends and any other woman in the bar who noticed him.  Although Bailey thought it was a bit excessive, she also told herself that she could change him.  She figured that she would give him all the attention he needed so he wouldn’t need the attention of other women. 

Unfortunately, two years later, Bailey is beside herself with grief after discovering that Stan just had an affair—with Bailey’s close friend.

As much as this may sound obvious to some people, the truth is that we often enter new relationships with blinders on.  We love the attention, enjoy the high of being in a new relationship and minimize anything that may get in the way of the relationship progressing.  The red flags we do notice are often rationalized away.  We think they’re no big deal, things will be different with us or we can change the person.  This type of thinking gets many women into bad relationships that cause a lot of pain.

The truth is that if you don’t like something about someone early on, that something is likely to only get bigger with time.  The idea that you can change someone is a crazy idea.  The only person you can change is yourself.  If you don’t like something you see in a person, the question you should be asking yourself is can you live with it, not can you change it.  If you can’t live with this person’s flirting, rage, drinking, defensiveness or… (fill in the blank), then have an honest conversation and see if they’re willing to change themselves.  If not, don’t fool yourself into thinking the trait will go away.  The reality is that it’s likely to get bigger, not disappear.

When it comes to new relationships, remember to go into them with your eyes wide open.  If you don’t like something, address it, don’t run from it, ignore it or think you can change it.  Figure out if you can live with it as it is...and if it gets even bigger.  If not, and the person isn’t willing to change it, then look elsewhere before you get too attached.

You deserve to be in healthy, loving relationships.  Don’t settle for less.  If you keep finding yourself in bad relationships, then do whatever work you need to do in order to get healthy yourself.  Trust me -- doing the work now will save you unnecessary pain in the long run.

CHALLENGE:  Notice all the crazy things you tell yourself in order to make a new relationship palatable.  When you hear yourself say you can change the person, pause and instead ask yourself if you can live with this aspect of the person.  Don’t be so desperate to be in a relationship that you ignore what’s right in front of you. 


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