“Why doesn’t he ever follow through with his plans? He’s SO FLAKY. He has so much potential that he’s not using. I could help him if he’d let me.”
“I wish she was ready to settle down. She knows I want a family but she’s so sure about backpacking through Europe. Maybe if I helped her get a better job she’d want to stick around … and get married.”
“Why is he always flirting with the wait staff? And why is he still listed as ‘single’ on Facebook? I don’t care if it’s just ‘innocent attention’ – if he loved me, he’d change.”
Sound familiar? (I can see you nodding from over here.) We’ve all been there – making a mental laundry list of the ways someone could ‘improve,’ an ongoing litany of their tiny flaws and all the ways we can polish and shine them to perfection.
But I’m afraid I’m captaining the good ship Reality Check today, friends. Trying to change someone is exhausting, disrespectful and (most importantly) 100% futile.
The upside of this? There is a truly life-changing sense of joy + liberation that comes with letting go of our need to control another. It’s when we let go that we finally feel loved and satisfied.
Pro-actively choosing to let go is different than clinging to something only to have it snatched from your clutches. Of course, actively choosing to let go of control – to let go of your need to change/improve another human adult – can be tough. But it’s also liberating and steeped in relief.
Borrow the courage to let go before heavy takes root.
When you proactively choose to let go you make delicious space for what you really want to show up.
When you let go, you allow the acceptance of “what is” to begin healing you.
You stop fighting a fruitless battle + bow to the perfect limitations of your situation.
With a heart ripped wide open you graciously, clearly understand;
:: This is all they have to offer + it’s not enough.
:: It’s time to move on. From this job, this town, this home. It’s been good but you must continue to grow–somewhere else.
Don’t wait until you’re “ready.”
The waiting is wrought with angst.
You have carried it and crouched under its weight long enough. (Read more about letting go.)
It isn’t until you give up on wanting them to change that you will find peace.
A few years ago, I was dating a much younger man who, for a plethora of reasons, I shouldn’t have been dating. I felt insecure about my age and finding someone who would love me as-is. My boyfriend was young and careless, partied entirely too much and eventually cheated on me.
After a lot (a lot) of meditation, journaling, and crying to my girlfriends, I realized that I could be at peace by accepting who he was and his choices, I could finally accept my responsibility for our relationship and for bringing him into my life. I decided to accept him for where he was in his life, and most importantly, to love myself. I let go of the weight of trying to fix him or wait for him to reach his potential and I felt hugely, immensely liberated.
When I began to love myself more + be more honest with myself, I made better choices. Since I knew I couldn’t change him and he couldn’t give me what I needed, with love and self-respect, I left.
If you too, would like to let go of your need to change your partner or to cling to things that aren’t working, here are five steps to get you closer to self-love and self-awareness.
1. Accept that the situation didn’t “just happen to you.”
This person you’re dating? They probably didn’t bang on your front door, insisting that you begin a romantic relationship with them. It is doubtful that you are being held against your will in this relationship. At some point, you chose to date someone who, for whatever reason, isn’t meeting your needs. You were actively involved in the decision to be in this relationship.
2. Accept the person for who they are and where they are.
My 23-year-old self is (thankfully!) very, very different from my 37-year-old self. In fact, I imagine my former boyfriends would be quite surprised at how I turned out. The same goes for everyone. Who we are, what we want, the type of love we’re capable of – these things change as we move through life. It’s not fair to expect a 25-year-old to approach relationships the way a 40-year-old divorcee does. Yes, that woman might make an amazing partner once she gets over her ex – but it’s not fair to either of you to sit around, waiting for that to happen.
3. Know on deep level that the only person you can change is yourself.
You’ve probably heard this a million times and maybe you’ve recited it over coffee to a few friends. But saying it and really down-to-the-marrow-of-your-bones knowing it are different. You can’t change the fact that she’s not ready to settle down, that he has a lot of growing up to do, or that she’s constantly running late. You can, however, change how you react to those things and whether those people are allowed into your life.
4. Celebrate your desires + truth.
Focus on your inner world, what you love about yourself, what is true for you, and where you want your path to lead. Instead of worrying about his financial stability, think about how you’re going to earn enough money to buy a little cottage in the woods. Stop focusing on what she does (or doesn’t) love about you and focus on what YOU love about you.
5. Take action in the direction of what you want most.
Building the life you want (filled with the right people) is a daily practice of step after tiny, unglamorous step. Big things start with small actions and those action always involve us and very rarely involve people who can’t meet our needs.
With love and respect, say goodbye to the people who aren’t right for you right now, and turn your attention to something worthwhile – creating a life that thrills you.