Published: 01/20/2014 - Updated: 03/17/2019
We all have an essence, a personality, and sometimes we end up "negotiating" our way of being for the person we love. However, is this really love?
Often, people who know how to love someone will love the other no matter their faults, without forcing or trying to change them. If you do not love the other as he or she is, you may not love him/her, or you may be going about your relationship wrongly.
It is common to hear "I love you, but I'd like you to change, I would like you to be more patient, outgoing, hardworking, active, athlete, etc...". All of these changes involve a personality transformation of the person concerned, and in this way it can sometimes demonstrate that we are not really in love with that person, but instead with what we hope him or her to be, in other words an idealisation of them.
While the person who is required to change may decide to do it "for love", it is on the other hand very difficult to negotiate your personality and it can be depressing to have to meet requirements that sometimes we do not agree with. It is frustrating and at some point it may concluded that perhaps the demanding partner does not love you, because if they really did, they would accept you just as you are and therefore would not have to ask for these radical changes.
While some changes like stopping or altering bad habits are perfectly justifiable, because it means that the other person is interested in our good, demands to change our essence and/or personality is essentially an attack on the "self".
Don't stop being yourself
In some relationships when our "self" is weak, we can begin to acquire characteristics or indeed imitate those of your loved one. When this happens, we may begin to leave the things that define us, in order to acquire a new "identity" (which is rather the other's identity and what he or she wants) and this can be unhealthy. We can define identity as awareness or knowledge of that which defines us and distinguishes us as an individual person, however when we assume the identity of another, we are putting aside our "self" for the benefit of our partner.
When living with someone, it is natural to begin to acquire "stuff " of the other person, however when we change our personality, values and ideals, religion or even view of love, we can lead to an internal conflict that may be difficult to identify, and with time, it can also lead to emotional dependency in your relationship.
In the name of love
There may be many reasons that may drive us to put aside our "self”, just to be with a person.
Loneliness: The fear of being alone can force us to abandon who we are in order to be accepted and be with someone.
The Miracle of Love: In many cases, we want to stay with people who do not value or want us, because we hope our love will be reciprocated one day, and although sometimes this can happen we must also know when our "self" is giving up too much for someone else.
Leaving your vocation: Quite often if we cannot develop our natural talents and we are led to abandon our vocation or hobbies because of limits imposed on us by our partner, we have the idea that when there is love we have to make sacrifices. However, this is not strictly necessary. Leaving our vocation/hobby leads to feeling unaccomplished or incomplete, which can in turn make us feel frustrated with ourselves and our partners.
Putting aside your values and principles: These should be non-negotiable, as each of us have values and principles that we have acquired through various events and experiences in life and when someone, in this case your partner, wants to negotiate these values and principles, we are inadvertently put our dignity at risk.
What are your limits?
To love someone it is certainly important to learn to love yourself first. Identify and make clear to your partner the elements of your personality and personal values which are important to you, highlighting that it makes you happy as you are. This does not mean you should close yourself to the possibilities of growth, as change is possible and healthy, but always take into account how this change is going to benefit you and how you feel about it. If you feel that it is compromising your "self", then discuss it with your partner.
On the other hand, try to love your partner with all of their strengths and weaknesses in the same way you expect him or her to love you. Remember that nobody is perfect.