When we are discussing relationships, we are continuously using the word “change.” “If he would only ‘change,’…” “She tried to ‘change’ me…” “I couldn’t ‘change’ my…to make it work…” “She inspires me to ‘change’…” However, with my years of experience in dealing with different personalities, I know that most of what we can learn about how people respond to relationships can be found in the overall study of human behavior. In a nutshell, most human beings would rather die than change. Yeah, I said it.
Let’s consider our physical health, shall we?
According to Dr. Raphael “Ray” Levey, founder of the Global Medical Forum, most people who consume the vast majority of our health care services are “sick because of how they choose to live their lives, not because of environmental or genetic factors beyond their control.” 80% of the health care budget is consumed by 5 behaviors: too much smoking, drinking, eating, and stress, and not enough exercise. EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS, RIGHT?
My point: So then why don’t people change? Because it is too hard. Because on a certain level the behavior works for them—it fulfills some kind of need or they wouldn’t do it. Because what we learn FIRST we learn BEST. Or because they don’t have to.
What does this have to do with relationships? Everything. Especially if you are waiting for him/her to change. Or if you are trying to change to keep him/her. All I can tell you is that if the success of your relationship depends solely on a person’s ability to change, pack a lunch because you are going to be waiting a long time. I remember my grandmother telling me a long time ago: “Honey, you can’t change anybody….If you don’t like what you already have, you best move on.” At the time, I thought, “What does she know?” In hindsight, I wish I had taken notes. And looking around, I probably could have published this bit of wisdom in Cliff Notes.
I know people who have wasted years (raising hand here) or decades (pretty close) just hoping that if that person can see how much I love him/her, he/she will be motivated to change. Let me put it to you in a real life emergency scenario:
In the U.S. about 600,000 people have bypass surgeries, a painful and expensive procedure that can cost more than $100,000, and 1.3 million heart patients have angioplasties — all at a total cost of around $30 billion. These same patients are told repeatedly after surgery, if you don’t change your behavior you will DIE. Research shows two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle. Even though these people know they will die and they know they should change their behavior, for whatever reason, they can’t/don’t/won’t.
Am I saying that people can’t change? Absolutely not. I know that I have. I am saying that the concept of change is difficult and extremely complex for humans. There are books written on the effects of change on humans. There is a whole body of theoretical research on changing human behavior. When it comes to the issue of change in the relationships, you would be smart to focus on studying your own behaviors over time and learning new skills that build self-confidence and awareness. The bottom line is this: whether someone changes is none of your business. So quit “hanging in there for one more year hoping for the thunderbolt…” or “laying down your expectations/conditions” for the 100th time or “chasing that same type of man/woman” hoping this time is different. If you don’t see the change in you and/or in another that you should expect to see in a relationship over a period of time someone is either unable or unwilling to change….and your love won’t change that. You better to figure out how to move on with happiness or how to stay with happiness. Pick one and act accordingly. My best relationship advice to you: Study your own behavior, then change or die.