Updated: Nov 29, 2019
We've all heard the saying, "relationships shouldn't change you." If you've ever been in a relationship, you may have also heard your friends or family say "you've changed" at some point in time or warn you not to change. This can bring up a lot of mixed emotions for people which can lead to things like confusion, hurt, and even resentment. Furthermore, if this continues, it may result in bonds being broken or ties severed. So many often wonder, how do you know? How can you tell the difference between "good" or "bad" change in a relationship? I've developed a list of a few things to point you in the right direction as to figuring out where you might stand. Ready? Here we go!
1) Is the change being forced or pressured by your partner in some way?
A healthy relationship should never "pressure" you to change in any way. Certainly being given an ultimatum would fall under the negative side. Even if the change is for safety reasons, like self-harm or drug/alcohol abuse, the focus of change should be for you NOT the other person!
2) Do the changes align with your own core thoughts, beliefs, or values?
Change should be a representation or a piece of something you already believe in or stand for in some way. For example, if I'm someone who says I care about the environment but haven't been as active as I'd like to in the community, maybe my partner could share an event they saw that would give me a chance to be more involved or if they are already involved in something, invite me to participate with them.
3) Are the changes leading you away or towards your loved ones?
This can be a tricky one because it depends on the standing relationship dynamic with your family/friends. If your loved ones tend to abusive or hurtful towards you, then maybe creating some distance can be a good thing. On the other hand, if they are positive influences in your life, it would be a good sign for your partner to encourage you to spend more time with them or maybe even work on mending those relationships. However, the key here, is that no matter what you do, THE CHOICE IS YOURS!
4) Are the changes sustainable?
This one is pretty straightforward. The change should be something you can keep up with, realistic. If you feel that the stakes keep getting higher and higher and are possibly too demanding, there should be enough safety and comfort in the relationship to communicate this to your partner without fear of consequences/retaliation.
5) Do you feel better about yourself?
This one ties all the previous 4 in here and is really a culmination of it being either healthy or unhealthy. If you feel good about yourself, maybe more confident, happy, peaceful, or whatever else, it's likely a good sign of positive change!
These are my top 5 ways to tell if the change you're experiencing in a relationship is healthy. Though there can be many more, it's a good place to start! If you are experiencing or know someone who may be questioning this for themselves, offer these as some talking points. It could be helpful in reflecting on the relationship as well as personal growth.