Trouble in Paradise
We often hear of couples who were once in love turning into couples who are now in trouble. If you’re having problems in your relationship, if you’re feeling duped, disillusioned or disappointed, like you’re in love with the man you thought he was and not who he turned out to be, then it’s time to find out what’s going on before it’s too late.
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Life Changes Us
First, you have to ask yourself what has changed. Certainly people will change over time, and that’s inevitable. Life itself will change all of us to some degree through both joyous and sad events—the birth of a child or the loss of a parent, for example. If the only thing you think has changed is the man you’re in love with, then you have to ask yourself:
Are you in love with who he is, who you thought he was or who you hoped he’d be?
In Love With the Man He is
If you answered that you’re in love with the man he currently is, then you have chosen to accept him as he is today, despite your relationship undergoing the inevitable changes to come. Kudos to you for having a relationship that shows great communication, understanding and flexibility.
In Love With the Man You Thought He Was
If your man just isn’t who you thought he was, you have to ask what has changed. For whatever reason, it appears he’s just not the same man you fell in love with originally. Did he suddenly become a different person after you married him or moved in with him? Did he recently disappoint you by acting in a way you never expected? A relationship is a big investment so before you write it off, try to find out why he’s not the man you thought he was. Perhaps you never knew who he really was to begin with. This is why communication is the most important tool in any relationship, even from day one. You have to know who you’re falling in love with at their core.
In Love With the Man You Hoped He’d Become
If your man isn’t who you hoped he’d be, then you have made a bet on your relationship based on potential. You can equate this to investing in the futures market—making an investment based on what the market might do in the future. That’s a high-risk bet; the payoff could be huge or it may turn out to be a bad bet resulting in a big loss.
People often say, “I thought he had potential,” or, “I thought he would change,” or, “I thought if he loved me it would get better.” That kind of thinking is a surefire way to lead to future disappointment. When you meet someone, you have to expect that they’re already living up to their potential—what you see is what you get. You can’t tailor a man to fulfill your image of the ideal partner. You can’t make someone want marriage if they’re a die-hard singleton, or suddenly want to become the type of father you always envisioned your children having simply because you just became parents together. Even if you think your man has great potential, he may just be happy doing what he’s doing already—and there isn’t anything wrong with that.
Most People Don’t Change Unless They Want to
You can’t change people, and most people—at the core—do not substantially change, unless they truly want to take steps to internally shift themselves. It requires an exceptional amount of work in facing one’s self, and most people never attempt this. Sure, life events can reshape a person’s life, but by and large people only change because they feel they must, and this motivation is derived internally, not externally. So, if you meet a man who is only 60 percent of who you know he could be, accept the 60 percent and be happy with it—or do yourselves a favor and move on.
What You Can Do to Avoid Disappointment
The best way to avoid disappointment in a relationship is to know who you’re falling in love with. You have to ask questions and take your time getting to know someone. If you’re pushing to have a baby with someone who doesn’t particularly want kids, you’re going to feel disappointed when they don’t change their mind—or worse, when you’re a single parent in a loveless situation. If you’re in a relationship you hoped would get better or change over time, just understand that there’s no guarantee that will ever happen. All you can base a relationship on is what you know today about who you’re with, so you had better know them well and be honest with yourself about who they are. Hoping things will get better or that he will come around to your way of thinking is how you wind up being in love with the man you thought he was, not who he truly is or will ever be.
Love yourself better than that. Take time to find a partner who’s better aligned with you today—someone who has the same goals, values and worldviews you have. And while there may be times you’ll feel things aren’t exactly perfect, you won’t regret your decision to fall in love, or wind up feeling like you’ve invested in a relationship with a stranger.