Relationships are about a lot of things: love, companionship, friendship, intimacy. When you ask a group of people for relationship advice, you’ll usually get as many different answers as there are people in that group. Often, that advice ends up contradicting itself. One person will say one thing, and another will say the exact opposite. Acceptance and change is one of those tidbits.
One person will say that acceptance of your partner and the relationship is key to making it work, while another will say change is critical to keeping things on track.
The truth is, neither one is wrong.
You need to accept your partner and the relationship as they are
If you go into a relationship expecting your partner to stop doing things you don’t like or to start doing things you do like, you’re going to be unhappy right out of the gate. The same applies if you go in with ideas that your relationship is going to go a certain direction, like marriage.
Accepting that your partner is who he or she is, with all their flaws and quirks, is the key to being happy in love. Knowing that your partner is the kind of person who doesn’t care how their clothing looks, or isn’t a reader, or hates a particular genre of music and being able to accept that will make for a lot less arguments.
Think about your own flaws and quirks. Do you want your partner to argue with you about how you can’t cook or tell you that your dream of creating your own line of beauty products is stupid? Of course not! You want someone who will willingly pick up takeout and help you source ingredients for your vegan line of eye shadow, right?
Your partner is no different.
The same applies to your relationship. While you may have an ultimate goal for your life, like getting married, you can’t place expectations like that on your relationship. You need to let it flow and get there on its own – if that’s where it’s going. Accepting that your partner may be moving at a slower or faster rate than you toward marriage, living together, or any other step for your relationship will ease the pressure and make it easier for both of you to enjoy your time together.
Change is growth and also to be expected
If you’re supposed to accept your partner and your relationship as they are, where does change fit in?
Change fits in in several ways.
One is the simple fact that people change. We learn, we grow, and we evolve into someone slightly different. If you go back and read a journal entry, a Facebook post, or an email that you sent to a friend 10 years ago, you’ll likely be very surprised at how different you were. The way you wrote was probably very different. The things you talked about may be more or less important to you now, and there’s probably at least one thing that makes you think, “What the heck? Why did I even let that cross my mind?”
Knowing that you and your partner will both grow and change over your time together is an important aspect of having a healthy relationship. It will give you the flexibility you need to accept the changes that come up, and to adjust yourself as needed to keep the relationship level.
Your relationship will also change. Aside from the obvious huge changes, such as moving in together, getting married or having children, you’ll go through smaller changes, too.
You’ll go through periods where you have less or more sex, where you’ll feel closer and more connected or more distant, and even periods where you wonder if you still love each other, much less like each other. These are natural ebbs and flows to all relationships and realizing that they will come and go will make it easier to get through the lower parts while you wait for a high point to return.
Acceptance and change are of equal importance
Whether you’re just starting your relationship or have invested decades, acceptance and change are of equal importance.
There is a time and place in your relationship for both acceptance and change. If you relax and go with the flow of the relationship, you’ll find that it’s easy to know whether it’s a time for one or the other.