Author: Ann Schiebert
Dear Ann: I love sports. I live for sports. My favorite weekends are filled with watching football, baseball, basketball or tennis – and sometimes golf. Even better than watching these on TV, is going to the live event. I have season tickets for most local sporting events. I enjoy being a sports fan. Here is the problem. When I first met my girlfriend, she appeared to like accompanying me to sporting events. Two years later, she hates going with me, she nags me every weekend about why we should be doing something other than watch sports. I’m not going to change. She needs to accept me as I am. The nagging doesn’t quit!
HOT TIP OF THE NIGHT
WHEN PEOPLE SHOW YOU WHO THEY ARE, BELIEVE THEM!
There are two issues here: 1. When in a new relationship we often fake our likes and dislikes to help us create a bond with the person we are attracted to. 2. When people show us who they REALLY are, we often become displeased and try to change them so we don’t have to act on our unhappiness. The lie we tell ourselves is that if we are persistent enough, the person we are trying to change will, “see the light,” and in fact, change. This is such a false belief. This is a Reality Distortion Field.
Faking for the sake of a relationship
There is a very prevalent belief in the world of dating. It is that agreement is the vehicle through which bonds are formed. Therefore, when people who find each other romantically attractive meet, they often work to agree with one another even if the agreement is false. The sports fanatic finds his, “dream partner,” who is just as much of a sports fan as he is. Once their relationship is solidified, however, his sports fan loses interest and rather do anything other than watch sports. The traveler finds someone who would go, “anywhere,” and then discovers that the travel companion is tired of the planning, packing and flying and would rather stay home. Relationship discordance! This happens in so many relationships. People rush to bond, rush to form a relationship only to be, “shocked,” when their partner turns out to be someone other than the one who was initially presented.
So, the usual path is to try to change the person BACK into the false persona who was shown in the early stages of relationship. How could my sports soul mate not REALLY be there? Maybe my lover of travel is just on a brief vacation from world exploration and will change BACK into wanting to pack for the next adventure. In years of interacting with patients who want their loved one to change, “BACK,” I have rarely seen this happen. People don’t move, “BACK,” they keep evolving; they keep letting you know who they REALLY are.
And one day we wake up and realize that we don’t recognize the person we’re with. We remember that false persona, the one we fell in love with. We pull, prod, and manipulate to have the person we thought we knew return to us so we can be happy once again. But now we are with the REAL person….the one we didn’t take enough time to discover. Now what?
Path one: Accept your loved one for who he/she is. That person is NOT going to change unless there is a desire to do so. Abandon your belief that if you just explain to your partner one more time why he/she needs to change, the, “light bulb moment,” will come! Your loved one will finally get it! The realization that one would benefit from change seldom comes from external prodding.
Path two: Continue standing on your lecture dais. Continue to engage in the unsettling nagging about why your loved one should be other than he/she is. Cling to the HOPE that the need for your significant other to change will be actualized because you will it.
Path three: Decide for yourself if you can live with your loved one as he/she IS! If your partner is a worrier, can you live with it? If your mate is a hoarder, a compulsive shopper, a golf course junkie, an addict, etc., can you live with it? Is the behavior that you want changed so HUGE that you can’t live with it? Path three requires action – not just passive acceptance. If one decides that life with the, “unchangeable,” is not acceptable, then what?
WHEN PEOPLE SHOW YOU WHO THEY ARE, BELIEVE THEM – THEN DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOU.