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How Much Should You Change Yourself for Love?
You've fallen in love. It looks serious. The rosy glow of "early love" has dimmed somewhat. Time to take stock of the relationship!
A major warning sign to pay heed to right now is a partner who demands change in you. If your honey is demanding a major renovation of your appearance, career or behavior/lifestyle, better think twice about the partnership!
Relationship expert Nancy Pina, author of Goodbye, Mr. Wrong, said people sometimes make big lifestyle changes when marrying or in a serious relationship because they fear losing their partner if they don't.
They feel lifestyle accommodation and catering to another persons every need will ensure a lasting relationship," she said. Problem is, bending over backward for a loved one doesnt guarantee a happy long-term relationship. It's more likely to foster resentment and anger.
Marianne Matheson, a 35-year-old Los Angeles movie producer, regrets giving up her job making films when she tied the knot 10 years ago.
My ex-husband was a prolific businessman and wanted me to travel with him as well as cook, clean and care for the kids, said Matheson. I wanted so badly to be happy and for it to all work out like that, but I missed my old life. We divorced two years ago and Im back to where I started.
It is not fair nor healthy for the longevity of the relationship for one person to completely give up their career, especially if that is not what that person wants, said Pina. Simply because one half earns more money than the other does not mean he/she can dictate the dreams and desires of their partner.
Couples also often disagree over which partner should convert his or her religious faith for the marriage. Australian Reuben Locke, 27, made a huge change, converting from a Baptist upbringing to the beliefs of Islam.
You cant help who you fall in love with, he said. The woman of my dreams is Islamic so I really had no choice. I used to get upset and miss the things in my old life, but you learn to move past it.
"However, religious conversion is an individual choice, and it should never be imposed", said Sloane Veshinski, a Hollywood-based marriage and family therapist.
For the relationship to remain strong, the person making these changes must do it because they want to and choose to and not because they were coerced, she advised.
It is necessary to make minor accommodations for the other person, said Veshinski. But relationships should be fair and balanced with each partner having an equal say. So perhaps the more a person changes to befit their beloved, the more likely it is the romance will fail.
Too many transformations made for the wrong reasons is quite often the downfall of a relationship, Pina said. If fear is driving change, resentment and anger will build internally. When these negative emotions are buried alive inside of us, they poison and distort us.
If change is carried out in a caring and compromising manner, the bond will actually benefit, experts say. But love will only last if both partners accept one another for who they really are deep down.
When somebody tries to change who they are for a person or relationship, those changes are not usually long-term and thus they are presenting a false front, said Veshinski. But true love is true because the other person loves you despite your little idiosyncrasies and interesting habits. The relationship should be a starting point for both individuals to grow together both spiritually and emotionally", she said.
The bottom line? Minor surface changes to improve your appearance and persona can be a positive and caring endeavor. Major changes to your basic personality or lifestyle can be harmful and dampen the spirit, and ultimately destroy a relationship.
*** We have constructed a great free guide to help you make some minor changes in your life. We advocate any changes you can make that might enhance your appearance and spirit to help you attract or keep love in your life. Visit The Help Desk now and check out our 9-step plan for love.