When Love Cannot Change the Other

When Love Cannot Change the Other

The Question of Love – When Love cannot change the other


Different relationships are formed through the various forms of love and connections. Love is an important element in our lives, and it is manifested in different forms: simple and complicated, big and small, close and distant, positive and negative, etc.

A complicated relationship is the inevitable one people are confronted with. I find one quote relatable – ‘There might be no right or wrong way to make a relationship work, but there is never an easy way.’ Who is at fault? Who is ‘right-er’ than the other? Who should change first? These fundamental yet never-ending questions drag the relationships to forever misery.

Others don’t change for you because of love

Often the clients and other people who come to me with the relationship problems are the ones who may first appear to suffer more or in the inferior level. It is because even both sides are both at fault, clients only gradually come to realization that in order to move on, they cannot change the other but only themselves.

There is this sarcastic joke which many counseling professionals share – those who are more self-aware are the ones who suffer more, because he/she gets the head around the causes/consequences of the situation, and people’s thinking/behavior in it. Even one takes an effortful challenge to enhance self-awareness, it does not mean the other party has the obligation to change accordingly. Afterall all growth occurs within the self, and so it makes sense that any changes also begin within that person who ‘knows’ more.

There is a saying, ‘Love can change another person’. Because I love you, you will change for me if you love me in return. On the contrary, many situations tell us that often the more we care/love, the more we get frustrated by the fact that the others do not do as we expect. ‘I love you this much to the extent that I do so much for you. Why are you not changing for me too?’

Love is Selfless

I want to bring forward a sharing from my encounter with a Chinese woman. As a devoted mother whose world had always centered around her child, the woman, at least from her perspective, prepared the best for the child in every aspect (from physical health, academic development to friendships/relationships). Recently her relationship with her now adult-child has become strained – her grown child refused to let the woman intervene own personal life.

Being the mother, the woman poured out worries about them not ‘going the right way’; yet in our conversation, what was revealed was the mother’s deeper and often neglected pain, despair and helplessness for being rejected and isolated by her loved ones. ‘Letting go’ became our discussion on how to change the lady’s own parenting attitude to fit in the grown daughters/sons’ development stage.

A few weeks later, I received update from the woman about a book she was reading – ‘How to Really Love Your Adult Child?‘ I was emotionally touched. When I may have helped the mother get through her difficult period, the lady also taught me something extraordinary – illustration of selfless love. While the woman could have easily fallen into emotional negativity and blamed about her children’s selfishness, instead she chose to challenge on herself first and relearn about own ways of thinking/behavior.

Regardless having an answer of how to love, what was more powerful to me was the seemingly simple yet fundamental block of love concept – to accept and respect.  The answer of ‘how’ lies within ourselves.

‘Love is a lifelong learning process.’

When loving someone leads to realization that we cannot change another person, it’s time we reflect on why we want to change the other in the first place.

Instead of attaining perfectness, love is more about acceptance and respect. Because love itself, is not about changing the others, but just loving the persons of who they are.

When striving for a balanced relationship dynamics, love requires more on self-balance first. Ask ourselves, we love, because we want to love the other, or we expect the return of love after we give.

Love is a lifelong learning process. At times we inevitably face disappointment as loving someone does not make the other return reciprocally, yet this is indeed the life-lesson we are given to take in. Loving someone does not mean we force others or ourselves think/act in the way we want them to be.

Letting go sometimes does not mean we completely cut ties with the other. At times we let go, as we put down own fixated mindset/mentality, and simply embrace the ‘fault or misfit’; at other times we let go, because ending is the best way for both parties to move on towards betterment. Either way is the same illustration of our respect and love towards the other person.

May the sharing relate to and send you a bit of positive power.

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