What an interesting question! And, you’ve asked it before, too!

Before you ask this of your significant other, ask yourself if you have changed over the years.

“Yes, in some ways, no in other ways.”

Really, now, how many people do you know who have significantly changed over the time that you’ve known them?  Not many. You are far more likely to credit yourself with the ability to change than others.

The question of whether people can change is an important one in relationships. In love, work and family you are constantly in the hunt for others to change and improve their behavior for you. That is “OK” since you are your only point of reference!

I believe the real question is, “Why do you want them to change?”

Do you need more from them? What is in you that is not being satisfied? If someone has hurt you can they offer a reason you need for it? Can they change or is that just who they are? Should you ever trust them again?

Yes, people can change, but only some of them and only some of the time. And the one, key ingredient is that they want to change. From my experience, there are a handful of factors required for people to change. The more any of these factors are present the more the likelihood of them changing. The more that are missing, the less likely it will be for change to happen.

In order for change to occur you have to:

  1. Want to change
  2. Have the ability to self-reflect and be self-aware
  3. Know what specifically needs to change and what will replace it
  4. Know how to change
  5. Gain some kind of large personal reward for changing (WIIFM, what’s in it for me?)

If all, or at least most, of those factors are in place for people, change is indeed possible. The longer the change lasts, the greater the likelihood of the change becoming a part of who they are, and then they won’t have to keep concentrating on maintaining it.

But you can see from reading this list why change can be so difficult to achieve.

Roughly, only 10% of people are capable of real change. It’s much better to find out what you can change in yourself and focus on that, rather than waste time and resources trying to change someone else into something they’re not.

If it’s critical to you that your relationship with someone changes in order for that relationship to work, think of all the factors that need to be present for change to occur. Consider the advice of my friend, and the possibility that you need to accept that the person you’re dealing with as they are or change your expectations or move on. It’s easier and more satisfying!


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