If you recognize these 7 signs, your partner is subtly trying to change you

Relationships are complicated. Compromise and communication are super important.

But if you feel your partner is trying to change fundamental things about you that make you who you are, it’s understandable that you might feel hurt or confused. 

Let’s explore some subtle signs of when a partner may be attempting to mold you into someone else, and how to address it with compassion.

1) Constant criticism

How do you feel when you are criticized? Some people see criticism as motivation to change and do better.

If your partner is constantly criticizing you, they may be trying to use this to change your habits. They are trying to make you want to be better by telling you you aren’t good enough.

Constructive criticism now and then should be welcomed with open arms, but it can be a bit hard on our self-confidence if it is happening all the time. 

If your partner is doing this to you, it’s high time you sat them down for a chat to find out exactly what it is they want from you, and whether you are going to change these things or not. 

2) Conditional love

Similar to being constantly criticized, conditional love means you only get love and affection when you act a certain way.

If you notice that your partner is doing this, then they may be trying to change some things about you. 

I overheard a couple just the other day and the guy was saying to his girlfriend, “If you get fat then I’ll tell you, and I’ll take you to the gym so that you can lose weight.” This is an example of conditional love. He’s saying that if she puts on weight then he wouldn’t love her the same. He wouldn’t accept her for who is is. 

This is conditional love and an example of someone trying to change their partner or have them be the way they want them to be.

3) Ignoring your boundaries

Have you ever started a relationship with some good boundaries, only to realize a little way in that your partner is beginning to overstep them?

Perhaps you’ve said “No” to something and your partner has tried to change your mind. Maybe you’ve made plans with a friend and your partner has shown up uninvited. These are all ways that they could be ignoring your boundaries.

There are many things that we can do if someone is ignoring our boundaries. One article explains that, “One of the most important parts of boundary work is understanding that you are responsible for holding your boundaries with someone else. Your boundaries are yours to keep, communicate, and honor”.

It goes on to say that you need to try to use assertive communication as well as to explain how you feel when your boundary lines are crossed.

You may need to sit down with your partner and create new boundaries together depending on how you are both feeling and what has been happening. Either way, open communication is invaluable.

4) Comparisons

If you can think of a few times when your partner compared you to other people, then this may be a sign that he or she wants you to pick up a few new traits.

I had an ex who used to compare me to his friend’s girlfriend. “Matt’s girlfriend does this, and he likes it, you should do that.” I hated it. I felt less than Matt’s girlfriend and my self-esteem dropped. But it worked, and I changed some things.

Once we broke up however I changed back, because that wasn’t who I really was.

Too many comparisons with too many people can make us feel like we aren’t good enough. If you notice that your partner is doing this to you, instead of just feeling worthless, sit them down and explain how it makes you feel and how you would rather have them speak about issues.

5) Subtle manipulations

You may not realize it, but there are many forms of manipulation that people can do subtly to slowly change someone.

There is an article which talks about four of these in depth. They are:

  • Arguing you out of what you want – explaining in a forceful way that what they think you should do is better
  • Non-stop talking – just not giving you the time to share what you want or need
  • Derisive joking and sarcasm – simply put, shaming you into doing what they want
  • Reframing your reality – making you think that your reality is different to what it is

When you notice these kinds of signs, then you can decide whether you are willing to let them change you or not. What is it that they are trying to change, and is it worth changing for this person?

6) Dismissal of your needs

When you ask your partner for something do they often dismiss these requests?

Do you ever feel like you give them everything they want but you’re not getting anything you want?

If you’re nodding to these questions, your partner might be trying to change your wants and needs. They are saying that they know better and that your needs aren’t worthy of attention or fulfillment.

Again, you need to decide if this is okay or not. 

I have had a partner in the past who tried to do this by saying “Yes, yes.” and then ignoring what I’d asked for. 

Long story short, we were living with a couple he was friends with and I didn’t like living with him. Unfortunately, he didn’t take my concerns or needs seriously because he wanted to keep this living arrangement up. It worked out well for him financially.

Eventually, I gave up. But not on the living situation, on him. He couldn’t give me what I needed and we broke up. He finally decided to sort things out with the living situation when I said I couldn’t do it anymore, but it was too late.

7) Rationalizes requests

Has your partner ever said to you, “It’s for your own good”, when you have questioned a request from them?

When someone else thinks they know better than you, look out! 

Your partner may know you well, but if you are always questioning their requests then you might need to start asking yourself why and what they are trying to do, or who they are trying to make you be.

Perhaps they ask you to wear different clothes, change your hair, hang out with different people, or even give up a hobby that you love. In any of these cases, they will explain that it will benefit you, but actually, they are trying to change you.

Make sure to look further into their asks to see if the changes are going to benefit you or them. Then decide what it is you want and go for it.

And remember, communication is the key to fixing these situations!

Louisa Lopez

Louisa is writer, wellbeing coach, and world traveler, with a Masters in Social Anthropology. She is fascinated by people, psychology, spirituality and exploring psychedelics for personal growth and healing. She’s passionate about helping people and has been giving empowering advice professionally for over 10 years using the tarot. Louisa loves magical adventures and can often be found on a remote jungle island with her dogs. You can connect with her on Twitter: @StormJewel

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