How many times have I seen it day in and day out – a couple is not happy about the way things are progressing (or not progressing) in their relationship. They have theories, a list of faults the other partner has committed, a wish-list of things that partner doesn’t do that would easily (ideally) solve their problems. Already before coming to see me, they are pointing their finger at their partner’s shortcomings with dissatisfaction. Problem is, you cannot change anyone. Period. People that try to force their partners to change often find that it only increases anger, insecurity, and resentment.

But that doesn’t mean that our partners can’t change, or won’t change. Everyone has the option to change something about their behavior, their thoughts, their life. The trick is they will only change if they want to, or if it suits them to do so. The secret to change in your partner, however, is less about focusing on them, and more about focusing on yourself.

When we are in a relationship, we tend to create patterns of behaviors that define how we interact with each other. Our relationship has its own equilibrium that is made up of how we each behave and how we respond to our partner’s behavior. The longer the relationship goes on, the more entrenched these patterns become. But the patterns can always change – and that change depends on us. Here’s why:

Einstein said that insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting different results. Such is the case with the way we interact with our partners. By focusing on our own thoughts, actions, and words, we can change the equilibrium of our relationship, even if only just a little. If we act differently, then our partner will have to respond to this change. So by creating a different set of variables in yourself, you set the stage for a different response in your partner.

For example, if your partner is watching television instead of following you into the bedroom, you might try starting to pleasure yourself without them (“I’m just going to go touch myself a little.”) and see if they don’t say “Hey wait for me.” Or if you wish that your partner would initiate sex more often, instead of waiting around for it, start talking to them about your latest fantasy.

Now, this does not guarantee that your partner will change the way you would like them to, or even change at all. How you respond, however, is up to you. Some people keep trying different things, some people give up trying. Some even decide to end their relationship, depending on the nature of the issue in question. Change involves risk, and that means that the change may not always be in the direction you were hoping for. It is this risk of the unknown that keeps so many people from trying something new. But regardless of your partner, you always have control of yourself. Some of you may ask “Why should I have to change?” and my answer is, it’s not about should or shouldn’t. And you don’t have to change. But then don’t expect anything else to change either.

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