A relationship. It’s more than just the dates, holding hands and kissing. It’s about accepting each other’s weirdness and flaws. It’s about being yourself and finding happiness together.
It’s about seeing an imperfect person perfectly. ~ Unknown
To find someone who loves and accepts us as we are is a dream come true. Going further, settling for anything less than that often ends up in suffering and heartbreak.
The truth is that if your partner loves you, they’ll love all of you, including imperfections. They may not necessarily love all of your behaviors, but they’ll love you as a whole person.
Here are five traits you shouldn’t have to change about yourself in a relationship:
1. Your Relationships with Family and Friends
Surely, tussles with extended family (read: in-laws) and members of one’s social circle happen, right? Sure, but there’s tussling, and then there’s division. The former is unacceptable, says Christine Wilk, a marriage therapist in Easton, Pennsylvania:
“You can’t give up special friendships or relationships with family members at the behest of your partner. It’s going to be hard to have a truly authentic relationship with your partner if they force you to pick sides.”
2. Your Goals and Ambitions
While we don’t have to have the same interests as our partner (as many of you surely know), it is essential to respect our significant other’s goals and ambitions. In other words, we should hold sacred that which drives them.
Never allow someone to discourage you from chasing your dreams – even if it’s someone with whom you’ve developed feelings. If you get the slightest hint that they aren’t on your side when it comes to things you want to achieve, ending the relationship is a far better option than losing your life’s purpose.
3. Your Means of Self-Expression
When we’re in a relationship with someone, all of our emotions eventually come out. We get frustrated. We get angry. We get anxious. We may break down in tears or scream at the top of our lungs. This is part of the human experience – and if your partner can not appreciate that, they’re not your true partner.
We’re all different people who feel different things. Our personality meshes better with some than it does others, and that’s okay. Loving someone means loving what makes them unique, and your emotional experience is one element of your personality that makes you unique. Don’t shut yourself down just because your significant other doesn’t understand. Move on.
If you’ve ever fallen for someone only to have them try to instill their “beliefs and values” into you, then you can probably sympathize here. There is no rational excuse for such pedantic and disrespectful behavior; and the longer that the relationship goes, the worse it will likely get.
But alas, things aren’t so simple. When you’re single, it’s relatively easy to stick to your guns about things like your religion and spirituality, political views, and other things. When you’ve committed to a serious relationship, there is always the chance that your partner will make a big deal out of these things. When they do, it can come as a shock.
If a relationship is to thrive, it is imperative that each person’s opinions on sensitive topics are respected. Disagreement and debate are healthy. Trying to force someone to believe something against their will is abuse.
5. Your Hobbies and Interests
How many stories have we heard about the husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend who “forbids” their significant other from doing something that they love? (Dramatic example: think the disgruntled husband who has his golf outings taken away, or the wife who can’t have a “girls night.”)
A relationship does not – and should not – mean that someone has the right to deny you the things you love. Demanding that the person we supposedly love give up the things that make them happy indicates a severe fracture of the relationship.
Depending on the underlying problem, the situation may or may not be fixable. Are you willing to sacrifice the things that give life meaning? Why allow someone to dictate what you can and can not do?