No one is perfect. No matter who we date, there will always be something that we wish they would change. If you are lucky their habits that irritate you will be small and fairly insignificant. If however their behaviour begins to affect the quality of the relationship, you may find yourself wishing that they were different. Trying to change someone is a waste of time because if there are significant issues, they are unlikely to improve.
When trying to change someone is possible
If you are arguing over the toothpaste cap, this should be resolved fairly easily. If however you are arguing over how someone treats you, this becomes more complex. Many of our behaviours are ingrained and cannot be changed by pure will alone. Change is possible when the irritations are minor. For example: your other half constantly leaves their dirty washing on the floor. This behaviour isn’t related to a personality trait but rather a bad habit. In this example trying to change someone isn’t a waste of time. If your partner constantly stays out late and doesn’t tell you when they will be home, this can also easily be resolved.
Communication is key for resolving the smaller issues. Not only is how you say something important but also the way you say it matters. When you are trying to change someone, it won’t help if you use words like “you always” or “you never”. This type of language will make a person become defensive and they will shut you out. A more effective way of communicating your wishes is to use assertive script. Assertive script uses the same format every time : “When you …I feel …So what I would like is …”
Example: When you leave your clothes lying on the floor, I feel annoyed, so what I would like is for you to pick them up and place them in the laundry bin.
Using assertive script helps you to get your feelings across without blame or judgement. The other person will be far more willing to take on board what you’re saying .
When trying to change someone isn’t possible
There are many instances when trying to change someone will be futile. If you are trying to change a fundamental personality trait you will be wasting your time. Either accept the way they are, change the way you react or end the relationship.
If you are dating a narcissist forget about trying to change them. Narcissism is a manifestation of faulty wiring in the brain. They are inherently selfish, lack empathy and no matter how you try to change them, they will revert back to type. Any changes that are made will be short-lived. Trying to change someone is a waste of time when their pattern of behaviour has been evident for many years. It is virtually impossible to change a selfish person into a caring empathetic person. Don’t waste your time. Of course, it is easier said than done. Narcissists are very charming and people often fall in love with them. The decision to leave is never that black and white. They have moments of being charming and appearing caring but this is usually in order to further their own agenda.
Narcissists only operate with their own needs and goals in mind. So even when they appear caring and altruistic they are doing it for themselves in order to look good. It’s all about them and always will be.
So if trying to change someone is a waste of time, what do you do? You can either keep hoping that they will change and you will end up miserable and resentful years down the line. You could leave them or you could work on yourself instead.
If you decide to work on yourself and stay in the relationship, you will need to find ways to be less affected by their behaviour. You will need a good support network around you and you will need to practise staying unflustered in the face of pure frustration.
The best-case scenario is to never get involved with a narcissist in the first place. They are very good at pulling people in. The narcissistic cycle of abuse: They will “love-bomb” you and make you feel like the most important person on the planet initially. Once they have you emotionally hooked they may start to devalue you. This is where criticism enters the picture. They may discard you and go for someone else and once bored with that setup they will often “hoover” You back in.
No matter whether you are dating a narcissist or a person with a difficult personality type, you are pretty much in the same boat. Trying to change someone with destructive behaviour is extremely challenging.
Know the difference between bad habits and personality characteristics. The one can be changed the other cannot. Knowing your options can help you navigate these types of relationships more successfully. If you feel like you’re going crazy in the relationship you may be a victim of gaslighting. Gaslighting is a clever technique that makes you doubt yourself and gives the other person the upper hand in the relationship.
The lower your self-esteem and belief is, the easier you are to manipulate. Ask yourself why you stay. What are you getting out of the relationship? If you are staying out of fear or another similar negative reason, get the help and support you need to remove yourself from the toxic setup.
As I said before, trying to change someone is a waste of time.