Changing for a relationship isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says one psychiatrist.
“Being unwilling to change is a different way of saying that you are already perfect,” says Howard Forman, an attending psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center. “And although perfect people may exist, I haven’t met many of them. With a good partner and in a good relationship, you change towards each other.”
Forman explains why singles should leave conventional dating advice behind this year and suggests these tips instead.
Constantly evolve: “Change is good. Let’s compare it to a musical act like the Backstreet Boys: if you go to one of their shows now it’s like seeing a novelty act where they sing all of the same songs. Compare that to someone like Taylor Swift — she is constantly changing. Do you want to be doing the same thing all of the time or do you want to try something new?”
Learn to fight fair: “We talk a lot in therapy about fighting dirty vs. fighting clean,” says Forman. “When you fight dirty, if your partner does something like leave a dirty plate in the sink, you say things like ‘You are so inconsiderate.’ You’ve taken an action and blown it up to be about every aspect of the relationship. Instead, you should really target the action instead.”
Realize that sometimes it is you: “The person who you have the most influence over is yourself,” Forman points out. “Are you someone who moves too quickly? Or someone who moves too slowly? Do you get so anxious that it leads you to say something that you don’t mean?” Recognizing these traits is the first step to fixing them and consulting a therapist may help get you back on track.
Remember that you are not alone: It’s easy for people who are unhappily single to think that they are the only ones who feel that way. “It’s so out of one’s individual control,” says Forman. “So it’s a question of how do you take something that is out of your control and expose yourself to the wonderful possibilities out there.”
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.