People talk all the time about wanting to change others, but unfortunately, it's not always realistic. Usually, people are people, and while they can change in minor ways, they're likely to stay as is. Yet, there are things you can change about a person that could make a real difference to your relationship, moving forward. Plus, these small improvements can add up. It's worth noting though that sometimes your behaviors can cause a person to change in a way you don't want to, so be mindful of what you're projecting.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on finding happiness in their relationships, and not expecting too much from others, as it'll likely lead to disappointment or frustration. Usually it's best to focus on yourself: Figuring out how you can change in positive ways and what you really need and want to thrive. Accepting other people, especially a romantic partner, is really important for general happiness, as it's not worth it to harp on others' negative traits or habits when there's not a resolution in the cards. Yet, what if there were small changes that could be made? Good news: There is. For those feeling wishful, this is where you can strive for improvements and turn your partner (more so) into the person you want him or her to be. Here are 7 things you can actually change about a person.
1. A Negative Attitude
According to renowned relationship expert Audrey Hope over email with Bustle, "often people don't realize how negative they are and that they play the role of victim. When this is mirrored back to them and they see the effect it has on their welfare and well being, then they can change." Here's a way to think of it: "A positive perspective is a decision and not a forever state," says Hope.
2. Past Hurts
"The truth is trauma can be healed if someone has the courage to walk through the darkness and into light," says Hope. It takes time, though. "People think they must relive the feelings and so they are afraid to open old long ago doorways. But in spiritual healing and new methods of dealing with trauma, one can be free from the past," Hope says. This can really impact a relationship, once the hardships are resolved.
3. Caring About Their Health
It makes sense that you love your partner and want him or her to be with you for the long haul, so when health isn't taken seriously, it can be pretty scary. Fortunately, it's possible to improve health by going to the doctor regularly and sticking with balanced eating and exercise, says Hope. Offer support to your partner if there's resistance, and perhaps even join in with getting healthier together.
Yelling at your SO about doing the dishes too much? With enough communication about how it makes you feel when he or she ignores the chore, your partner is likely to change and compromise, says Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, over email with Bustle. A tip: Ease the person in by alternating chores.
5. Listening Better
It is possible to encourage a friend, partner, or family member to be a better listener, and to express more care and concern for matters that stress you out, says Hershenson. While listening might not be someone's strength, if you tell him or her how to do it better, there's room for improvement. Share a few tips, like making eye contact, repeating back what was said, or showing a firm understanding throughout the conversation.
6. Communication Habits
These are hard to change, but with some practice, where you're verbally expressing how to improve openness and communication and what you need to feel safe and heard, you both can meet in the middle and change to appease the other, says Hershenson. You can also speak to a therapist for better ways to communicate when times are tough and how best to match each other's style.
7. Willingness To Do Things For Others
You don't like sleeping on the right side of the bed but your partner is used to the left? You want to travel and explore new areas with a friend, but your buddy is more of a staycationer? These things can be changed in a person, explains Hershenson, as long as you urge him or her to make sacrifices in the relationship and step outside the comfort zone. These sacrifices aren't too drastic, so he or she should be willing to get on board.
These small little tweaks can add up to making a difference in a relationship. However, if met with resistance, it's best to back off, unless you want to risk ending things.