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Thread: a question about trying to change someone

  1. #11
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Be a partner, not a social worker.
    Originally Posted by rainorshine
    he was raised in a very dysfunctional household, surrounded by people who did not respect one another. I knew he lacked that teaching growing up, and for awhile I felt like, as his partner, I was then responsible for helping him to learn by setting a good standard and, well, leading by example.

  2. #12
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    Thank you, bluecastle. You always have the most sound bits of wisdom.

    I know the desire of wanting him to change and "become better" was selfish. I realized that fairly quickly once I acknowledged I felt that way, and it filled me with a lot of guilt.

    As I believe I have stated in previous threads, deep down I always knew we were incompatible. But with me being 18 when we first met and fell in love, compatibilities didn't matter as much to me as having fun and enjoying our time together. All I wanted at the time was for someone to love me, and he did. He was good to me, so I stupidly swept how he treated others under the rug. I shouldn't have, it caused me a lot of inner turmoil and strained our relationship at times, but I did.

    I truly thought his meanness was something he would outgrow as he got older. For some reason, my brain never made the connection that it was his character, and that character is something largely set in stone.

    But at the time, that's how I saw it - as me trying to help him grow. Changing someone, to me, meant regarding their likes, hobbies, interests (i.e. watching tv over reading books), and I never did that - I accepted those things about him. I recognized changing someone in that way is wrong. I wholeheartedly believed I was doing good by trying to encourage him to be a nicer person. I truly thought it could only be better for everyone involved.

    I did have that exact thought: it's good now but will be really good once he becomes a little more x, a little less y.

    I do see now how condescending it all was. I still stand by my intentions, and I'm not ashamed of them. Considering how dissimilar he and I are, it's honestly a miracle to me that we survived as long as we did, and even fell in love to begin with. But we did, and I believe that was God's grace saying, "you have something the other needs right now," and "you both can teach each other a lot."

    I fully believe that our relationship was meant as a lesson to help prepare me for my next chapters, and I will strive my hardest to follow your words of advice and not repeat the same dynamic!

  3. #13
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    I see nothing wrong with keeping our own behavior to our own highest standard, which can ultimately become a model for someone else--or not. Free will means that we credit others with the ability to choose how they want to conduct themselves. So while modeling behavior we hope that others might adopt is fine, investing in that as a game changer for someone else is our own problem, not theirs.

    I think of my own internal trust meter as something I set to a neutral 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 when I meet someone new. Then I observe over time and allow their behavior to influence my choice to either invest more trust or to withdraw degrees of trust until it occurs to me that I'd best walk away.

    So our estimation of others' behavior is on us, along with our choice to continue engaging anyone who demo's that they are not exactly ethical or trustworthy material.

    It's only a matter of time before someone who's mean to others will direct that poison toward us. Even before then, we decide whether their toxicity is worth the price of engaging with them.

    This is stuff we learn experientially by living it. So credit yourself for recognizing toxicity when you see it, and you'll gain confidence in your ability to screen people OUT rather than try to rehab them.

    People are not projects, and dating is not social work.

  4. #14
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    Response to post #12 (Rainorshine):
    It's condescending if you do it intentionally. It's naive if you are clueless. I believe you were naive to start and were interested in being with someone more likeminded. Unfortunately he didn't prove to be that way.

    We've all been down a similar path. It's called being incompatible and making peace with others who are different from us (people we can't change no matter how much we may want to).

    My husband is very different from me in more than a few ways. The key you should be remembering is that with the right person, you should be able to mutually appreciate your differences and find strengths in your weaknesses together. Just because you are different in an approach from someone else doesn't always mean the other person is a bad person or vice versa (you being the bad one, the rude one, the wrong one etc and so on and so forth). Your strengths should add to both of you as a couple. Your weaknesses can always be improved upon.

    Some people are beyond learning or unable to learn from others, appreciate different perspectives or approaches and that's fine. To me this level of non-growth is a dealbreaker and that's where I part ways and bid farewell. At that point, it's time to be respectful and simply go separate ways as you have done in your previous relationship. Enjoy your singledom. I had some of my best and most incredible adventures being single and thinking about the same things you're thinking about too.

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  6. #15
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    There is a realistic answer here and a more nuanced one. The realistic answer is you can never expect your partner to change - you either accept them as they are or let someone else deal with their hangups. The nuanced answer is that people do change over time, as a response to numerous stimuli. I'm never going to like cleaning up, but the more often my girlfriend is over, the more often I am going to clean up. That's not her trying to change me, but I am changing because of her influence. There may be other aspects of my behavior that I am more blind to than the cleanliness one. I expect some of those to be things I work on if they are brought up.

    But then... I am a person who is open to and looking for change in myself. Some people either don't think they have anything wrong with them, or wouldn't want to change it in any case. Behaviors like those of your ex that are picked up in childhood after lots of exposure to negative influences are not going to be fixed by a significant other modeling good behavior every once in a while. And it sounds like it's bad enough that, while you accepted it for a time, being around that kind of behavior long enough would have worn you down eventually if he did not change. You avoided a lot of that wear down by being long distance. This is one of the dangers of long distance or mostly online/texting relationships. You miss out on so many chances to really see and evaluate a whole person with all of their faults on full display.

  7. #16
    Platinum Member Cherylyn's Avatar
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    Trying to change a person is like catching Niagra Falls in a bucket.

  8. #17
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    Originally Posted by Cherylyn
    Trying to change a person is like catching Niagra Falls in a bucket.
    Or pushing water uphill with a fork

  9. 07-12-2019, 12:53 AM
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  10. 07-12-2019, 12:59 AM
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    Refers to deleted post.

  11. #18
    Platinum Member figureitout23's Avatar
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    *Steps on soapbox*

    Why are you ruminating to this degree about a relationship that ended so many month ago? To me, you are asking us to assist you in staying stuck, I think you should really put yourself first and try to stop these thoughts, the relationship is over and done with, yes everyone can and should learn from their past relationships but this is really coming off as ruminating more than anything else.

    *steps off soapbox*

  12. #19
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    I don't think wanting to change him in of itself is a bad thing and I don't think you should feel guilty for it. How you go about it though is what can make it wrong. If you feel that he isn't good enough now for you to be with but would be if he improved then you're with the wrong person and you shouldn't expect that they will change and maintain it. And this will show when you talk to them because you will talk from a position of them being wrong and not good enough. If you accepted them then your position would be that they're good now and you want to see them improve. Under those conditions the person would see that you accept him and he may be more willing to change although he still may not.

    The other thing is, whenever you do end up with anyone, each partner changes a little towards the other. So you don't have to feel guilty for wanting to change.

    Next, if you want someone to change their character you have to build a foundation to cause a change in their behavior. If someone is making a racist remark, they do so because of what they think and feel. You could tell them to stop but the remarks would still be on their mind and in their hearts. To change their behavior you would have to change their assumptions about that race or show them how skin color is not a factor. In your ex someone has built the foundation that treating certain people with disrespect is good, and treating the one you love with respect is good. Understanding the foundation and changing their thoughts would bring about change and not just asking for them to change.

    In any case, I don't think you two were compatible so I'm not recommending you go back and change him, good luck in the future.

  13. #20
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    Originally Posted by Mari
    In your ex someone has built the foundation that treating certain people with disrespect is good, and treating the one you love with respect is good. Understanding the foundation and changing their thoughts would bring about change and not just asking for them to change.

    In any case, I don't think you two were compatible so I'm not recommending you go back and change him, good luck in the future.
    Wow, what a good point about foundations that I have failed to see. Perhaps had I understood that before, I could have better helped bring about a positive change in him. Now, I must take it as a lesson and learn from it.

    I do take blame for not approaching the issue in the best manner - I had never once became so visibly angry or frustrated at his disrespectful behavior as I did in the very last moments of our relationship - in pure desperation of wanting him to empathize with me and for him to stop gaslighting me (yes, eventually he did turn his meanness towards me) I went on a spree, for lack of a better word, of calling out his faults and essentially telling him he was not good enough for me for x, y, and z reasons. I think I may feel gross and apologetic about that for years and years to come. That's not who I ever want to be. By acting in that manner, I let him down, but perhaps more importantly, I let myself down.

    However, that interaction and dialogue between us was the most important one that we ever had. It's what finally made a light go off in my head signaling to me just how toxic our dynamic had become and that we were seriously incompatible as people. It's why I broke up with him. I have absolutely zero desire to ever get back with him. Thank you. :)
    Last edited by rainorshine; 07-12-2019 at 07:56 PM.

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