How to Change for the Sake of Your Relationship: Why it’s Not as Taboo as You Think

relationship change

We’ve been taught that changing for the sake of another person is in direct conflict to the preservation of our own identities. Changing to make someone else happy won’t make you happy, just as you can never truly change someone else to make yourself happy. But to sustain a mature, productive, long-term relationship with someone, both parties need to grow. Pride and stubbornness often get in the way of a relationship that still needs to develop in order to last, and if you’re unwilling to make a few changes in order to keep your loved ones close, you may end up losing them altogether.

The following are some tips on analyzing your personal development for the sake of your relationship, and reasons why making small changes for someone else isn’t as bad as you think.

  • Put yourself second. This change is all about your line of thinking. Try to alter your perspective a little bit by putting your relationship first and yourself second. Consider what the best course of action is to sustain the relationship instead of figuring out how to make yourself “win” every argument or confrontation.
  • Compromise. Making compromises is one of the cornerstones of any successful relationship. And making minor, occasional allowances for the benefit of a long lasting relationship is more important than being right all of the time or getting what you want all of the time.
  • Reevaluate your goals. When you began your relationship, your goals were probably goals that primarily involved yourself: the job you wanted, the place you wanted to live, and the trips you wanted to take.  While there is nothing wrong with setting personal goals for yourself even as you enter into a more serious relationship, over time, the goals may start to shift, or at least broaden in order to include another person. Reevaluate your goals and the things that are most important to you to avoid holding on to ideas that are no longer as important.
  • Grow together, not apart. Your relationship involves two people, and it takes two people to make the relationship work. Just as you have pledged to make some changes, talk with your partner about the changes he or she can make, too. The important thing is to grow together instead of forcing one person to make all the changes.

Have you changed or the sake of a relationship? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

Photo by Sean McGrath

15 thoughts on “How to Change for the Sake of Your Relationship: Why it’s Not as Taboo as You Think”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I are practicing “putting the relationship first” in many instances, and it seems to make so much difference in the quality of it. He brought the idea to the relationship – I consider myself a lucky woman. We are both growing so much together because of the willingness to make sure we both have enough room in the relationship.

  2. I really like this post. I think we worry so much about our own needs and who can blame us? When we’re single we should work on improving ourselves and becoming internally happy with ourselves in order to give the best of ourselves to others. But there comes a time where we need to realize that we (as individuals) aren’t the be all end all. At the end of the day, interdependence is the name of the game.
    As much as we don’t like to admit it, people will motivate change in us in ways we never think they do whether we are in a relationship with them or not. Personally I think the best relationships are when both parties motivate each other to change and grow for the better, not when both people or just one person remains static.

  3. I am in complete agreement with everything mentioned in this post. Last week, I had a conversation with some friends that the reason that both of them weren’t in good relationships was because they’ve failed to be selfless, at times, and put their mates needs and desires before themselves. A healthy, long lasting relationship involves two people mutually working together to make each other happy and this may require making minor compromises from time to time. My wife and I have been together for 8 years and it took us years to learn this principle. Hopefully, people reading this will not take as long as we did and apply this advice today. Thanks for the interesting post!

  4. Wonderful post! This is just what I needed today. I’m a big believer of not changing for anyone, but that’s not really the best way to build relationships. I do believe that it’s been labeled taboo to change for someone else, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Sometimes it’s important to change, for the better, to make your relationship succeed. One thing to note is that you shouldn’t be the only one changing. Both people need to meet in the middle to make it work.

  5. Thank you for this guest post Tara.

    Just last week Kathryn and I were shocked by the news that a couple we know are getting a divorce. I don’t know the reasons behind the divorce, but it did make me pause and think about the way relationships change over time.

    These are excellent tips, particularly the first one “putting the relationship first”. This isn’t always easy as the ego loves to win an argument. However, for the sake of the relationship it’s usually the best course to take.

  6. Are you reading my mind, or is the universe sending me a sign?

    I’m going through a hard time in my current relationship because my past divorce left me with more baggage than a spoiled, rich celebrity house wife. (Emotionally, in my case) I’m at a point where I MUST change to save my relationship.
    Thank you so much for this.

  7. Hi Tara .. although I’m not married or in a relationship .. having a terminally ill mother has made me look at things in a different light: immediately she became terminally ill I realised that I needed to do what I could for her at those times that I was with her, rather than worry about myself.

    So vis a visa relationships .. it’s putting yourself into others’ shoes ..what do they need, why are they asking now, what’s going on .. how can we help etc etc .. and I’ve done that when I’ve talked to people in a similar position to myself in the hospitals re their near and dear, or relatives .. try and look at the other side of the coin.

    Sometimes it’s impossible and it’s better to move on .. as I did and get divorced – you’re better off out of it .. but so often not and I think it’s brilliant when people can work things out together .. they are one, but they are single too ..

    Your post will inspire people .. thanks
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters

  8. I don’t believe in changing for the sake of the relationship. I believe in changing only if you truly want to become the change. Minor habit changes are probably fine but not when it involves something deeper, like changing to be an extrovert from an introvert, or changing your values. If you need to change on that deep level for the relationship, then it’s probably not the right relationship to begin with in the first place.

    Just my two cents worth.



  9. Thank you Tara for this blog. I can’t agree more that if we are focused on “winning every argument” we are going to have a tough time in our relationship. Learning to compromise is quite an art. And learning how to give and take in our own personal goals is also an art. Making time for your relationship and sharing your inner thoughts and feelings with each other helps couples grow together instead of apart.

    Dr. Jennifer Howard

  10. Hi Tara,

    I’m in two minds about your post. If you are advocating interdependence then I am in wholehearted agreement.

    I’m not sure about putting the other person or the relationship first. This can end up with both people being unhappy. Putting our marriage ahead of my partner I think is a mistake (this may not be what you meant).

    I think changing for the sake of others can be a great idea. It can be remarkably liberating (who says we should always think of ourselves first?). My problem is when this becomes a should and something we need to force ourselves to – and it is not followed by feeling good. Hope this makes sense, I’m battling to be clear I think.

    Thanks for your thought-provoking post.

  11. Thanks for this. The point about letting go of the need to be “right” seems important to me. If my partner and I can just admit to each other “this is what I want or how I feel” rather than arguing about who is in the right or wrong, we can feel much more connected instead of feeling like opposing lawyers. And even if we don’t compromise, at least both of us feel heard, which I think is often more important than getting a certain result anyway.

  12. I am only 18, so I don’t see myself as an expert on this area. But when I have argues with my girlfriend, I also want to win all the time. Until I start thinking about it, what is the use of being agry on her for something as small as it was, why should I keep being agry about something small, why do I want to win this.
    So I started to make some small changes, agreeing more with her, that sort of things. And it works out great, not only for your relationship, but also for you as a person. Having a positive mindset helps!

  13. Devils advocate alert ;)

    So during a recent interview with Suzy Welch, she mentioned that compromises are not the best option. In a compromise both people are left with less than they want, and ultimately unsatisfied. It’s better to have both parties understand why a certain choice is better and go with it. What do you think?

  14. Thank you for the post. Now I know why my relationship won’t last for more than a year. I even thought to myself that I am destined to be alone without someone beside me. Again, thanks. Il try tp practice to put the relationship first above anything else on my next relationship. :-)

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