A woman helping her boyfriend pick up a collared shirt to wear

5 Signs You Are Trying to Change Your Partner

by Jeannie Assimos - October 28, 2015

Whether we like it or not, we are imperfect and our partners are too. It can be difficult to grasp that acceptance is the first step to personal growth, change, and self-improvement. We can easily get caught up in the notion of perfection, and feel miserable with ourselves when we cannot achieve it.

By accepting our flaws and understanding that perfection is an unattainable goal, we can move forward in becoming healthier, happier individuals. When we quit shaming ourselves and being critical of what’s wrong, we are less paralyzed by our fears, doubts, and struggles, and more able to develop our strengths, reach for our goals ,and see the positive in ourselves.

Flawed and unrealistic thinking also occurs when we believe that we must find the perfect partner —  not just a partner who is perfect for us, but a partner who is perfect. Period.

With this belief system, you will find yourself searching forever for this perfect person, making all of your dates and partners into projects. Or you might find yourself in and out of unsatisfying, short-lived relationships.

The goal of dating is to find a partner who is right for you – not someone who you need to “fix” or change to make him or her into an acceptable mate.  Just as you won’t be happy if you define yourself by your flaws, your relationship will lack happiness and health if you view your partner as a project.

Relationships cannot be healthy if they are filled with shame, judgment, disapproval, anger, control, and hidden agendas. Acceptance, coupled with love, leads to relationship satisfaction.

Here are five signs that you are looking for perfection in a partner or making your dates or partners into projects:

1. You are chronically single because you find something wrong with everyone you meet, and you have unrealistic standards. You miss out on opportunities to date someone great because what you are seeking is impossible to find.

2. During and after time with a romantic interest, you find yourself thinking more about what you would like to change about this person and how you can mold him or her into someone more desirable than thinking about the possibility of a wonderful, happy future together. It is not a good sign if you notice yourself paying attention to your date’s perceived flaws and getting caught up in how you can help him or her repair, change, or fix attributes or behaviors early on.

3. You pick partners who are not matches due to your belief that you can change this person into your ideal partner. These relationships can only last so long before you are left feeling angry, disappointed, and heartbroken when your partner does not change. This behavior pattern is hugely distorted because of two basic principles:

– Change is internal. We cannot change people unless they want to change. We can only change ourselves.
– We are in control of ourselves and our own behavior. We do not have control over others.

4. You break up with partners too soon. You might believe that you have to like everything about your partner, and as his or her inevitable flaws and insecurities emerge, you run away and continue your search for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. This creates a vicious cycle of quick relationships with many partners because you are unable to appreciate the uniqueness of others.

5. You put conditions on the relationship or make statements such as, “If you love me, you would… (name of behavior, personality trait or quality you would like to change).” Your relationship has no space to grow because you do not value, appreciate, and accept your partner. This creates an unhealthy power dynamic, breeding major resentment and disconnection rather than growing together.

Above are just a few signs that it is time to adjust your expectations and let go of perfectionist tendencies that block love. You have the power to notice any urges you have to change your partner — and then choose acceptance. You can resist your desire to mold him or her into someone new or different. You can choose to love your partner as an imperfect human being and shower him or her with gratitude, support, and reassurance.

On a final note…

As you search for a partner, toss out the word perfect and replace it with “right for me.”  You aren’t supposed to like every little thing about your partner. Even the happiest of couples who truly love each other don’t adore every quality or behavior in their partner and in an ideal world would make some changes. The key here is that they don’t focus on the negatives — they focus on building the positive and love while accepting that they can’t change the rest.

So, don’t fall in love with the illusion of who someone could be or might become. Fall in love with who they are in the present moment.

About the Author:

Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!