The accusation of many a friend – does being in a relationship change you?
Few expressions annoy people more than the two words, “you’ve changed”. If you ever want to tick someone off and get them riled up in finding out what you mean, just even hint to them the fact that they aren’t who they used to be. The reason the expression annoys us so much is that it infers to us that we were better before, and something has happened to make us not as good as we once were.
Of course, not all change is bad, but when we hear this expression, we assume it is meant to the worst way.
In a similar way, we seem to hate the idea of a relationship changing us. When you’re single, you hate the notion that one day you’ll have to change something about yourself for another person. When you’re together with someone, you hate the notion that any change has taken place. Or if you don’t, you’re annoyed at the fact that people think it’s a bad thing.
Many friends and family members have put forward the idea that people aren’t who they once were when they find their perfect match. But are they right?
Does being in a relationship change you?
Playing for two
I think the answer to this question is really simple.
It has to.
Anyone who wants to stay exactly the same when heading into the season of relationship is probably going to have a lot of trouble. Why? Because you’re used to playing for one. You’re used to doing things at the time you want to do them. You’re used to no one asking you questions about them. You’re used to just having to entertain yourself. You’re used to making decisions where you’re the only one who’s going to feel the consequences.
You can’t invite someone else into your life and stay the same. We have to increase. We have to make allowances for another person.
I think it’s a form of selfishness if we’re wanting to remain the same. It shows that we think our plan is the only one that matters. It shows us that maybe we still think the world exists to serve us.
I remember a friend of mine who was dating someone once, who refused to let anyone in to her world. This was mostly okay in some ways when she was by herself, but now she had a man in her life who genuinely cared about her. When she was having a hard day, he would ask her about it, and she would shut him out. Not just once – continually. In fact in thinking about it I can think of several different relationships I know of where this has happened, whether it was the guy or the girl who puts the walls up. You probably know of them too. Obviously an unwillingness to change is not conducive to together.
The real question is whether or not the change is good or bad.
Time spent with friends
The largest source of this accusation would come from friends who feel like they no longer see one or both of the members involved in the relationship. Where you would once spend Saturday nights together or visit birthday parties as a group or catch the latest movie just because it’s good to see everyone, now it’s spent on date night or on just hanging out together with no one else around.
I guess something single friends don’t always realize is that if a couple isn’t spending time with them, it’s probably that they’re not actually spending time with other friends either.
Is this a bad thing though?
Well, yes and no.
I think it’s important that a couple spends a lot of time together. Your partner is your top priority in life. If they’re sick one night and need some extra help being looked after, then you should do it. If they’re just wanting a quiet one every now and again, then it’s a good thing to give them some extra attention.
On the flip side…
You did have other friends before getting together. In fact, you still do. They may not remain that way if you continually shut them out, though.
I think there can often be a lot of insecurity around why a couple doesn’t talk to anyone else any more. Perhaps it’s a fear of loss or rejection of this one person they finally go to like them, and rocking the boat and not giving them all the hours of their week would potentially sow distance in the relationship, and they’re afraid they may lose the person they care about the most.
Moreover, maybe it shows that the friends aren’t as close as you thought.
I think your partner should be your top priority.
I don’t think they should be your only priority, though.
And that balance looks different for everyone I guess. But if no one else can penetrate the love utopia, and if everyone else is being shut out, it’s probably not the right balance.
Championing their cause or holding them back
A lot of people have referred to marriage as “the ol’ ball and chain”. The loss of freedom. As a prison.
It’s said in jest often, but our treatment of partnership is often quite serious. We don’t want anyone else to hold us back in our lives. We have our plans, we have our goals, we have our dreams. How dare anyone else slow down what we want to do in our lives?
They say marriage is being tied down. I really don’t think it has to be.
But it certainly can be, and it certainly is in a lot of cases. One partner or both partners may be using the other person to an extreme. They can’t live their own life or accomplish their own dreams, because they have to stay here and look after my needs. I would never go along with what they want cause it doesn’t line up with what I think I want. They can’t spend time with anyone else because then I’ll feel that deep loneliness in my life that I hold my partner completely responsible for looking after.
I think this is where our own personal wholeness is so important. Because if we’re not moving toward health in our lives, the people we are attached to are going to suffer the consequences. It’s actually very unfair that someone else has to put their life on hold because we aren’t doing anything about the issues in our lives.
Of course, you need to look after your partner, and many people make great sacrifices for the other person. That’s what love is about.
But are we championing the cause of the most important person in our lives, or are we holding them back? Do we speak life into their calling, or are we a noose around their neck? Do we help them be the person they’re meant to be, or do we belittle the person they are?
It can be a prison if we’re holding each other down, for sure, but it can be an absolute wellspring of life if we’re seeking each other’s best interests with the best of who we are.
When Adam was by himself, he looked after the Garden, but with Eve, they had dominion over the whole earth. Our domain is supposed to increase, not decrease.
A great relationship doesn’t limit us, but it sets us free to be more than we were alone. Whether or not that’s our reality is in our court.
It’s not “my dream” anymore. It’s “our dream”. As long as it is “my dream” or “their dream”, there’s going to be a feeling of being left behind.
But if our commitment is to the person, shouldn’t our commitment also be to the call on their life? Because it’s their dream, it’s become my dream, too.
What great power when people believe in us. And what great power when we believe in others.
Anyway, just some thoughts on the changes that come with being in relationship. I guess whether they’re good or bad changes lies completely with us.
What do you think? Do you think you change when you’re in a relationship? Are they good or bad changes? Or should there be no changes at all?