The most dangerous word in any relationship is "change". From the time we are young, most of us start creating an idea or an image of an ideal partner. Every single thing around us manages to influence this idea. Be it a movie, a character in a book, a real-life person (like a parent figure) or even someone you're sure your ideal partner shouldn't be like. That's why single teenagers/adults mostly resort to listing out the things they don't want in their future partners. Haven't you heard people say, "I don't want someone who smokes." or "I won't date someone who can't cook."? Most of us have said similar things or have at least heard our friends say them. And in most cases, statements and ideas like these are the root cause of all relationship issues.
When you meet someone for the first time, the primary instinct in most cases is physical. This is because your eyes perceive what they see externally about a person before your brain forms a judgement of this person's character. Only in very rare cases do people first talk to each other without meeting one another, and fall in love solely based on their mutual liking for each other's characters. But in all the other cases, your body takes over first, and you feel attracted to someone based on their looks. When this happens, you try to fit this person into all the categories that match your mental image and although you know that he/she does not fit into all those categories, you ignore reason and try to convince yourself that it will all change with time. And wishing for that kind of change is biggest mistake you can ever make.
Then start the unending series of questions like, "Why can't you change that habit for me?", followed by "Why can't you change your habit of asking me to change?". The "for me" in the first statement is crucial. You think that just because you are a part of someone's life, your opinions on their life should be more important to them than their own individuality. Worst of all, sometimes people cling on to the belief that the change will come eventually. But the bad news is, the change never comes. People hardly ever change. And moreover, if you find it hard to accept someone the way they are, then you shouldn't be with them in the first place. If someone is constantly asking you to stop being the person that you are, do the right thing and LEAVE, because it's a very obvious sign that they don't love you, but the idea of you.
Here are some things that I bet you already know, but definitely need to be reminded of:
Your Feelings: Always pay close attention to them. They tell you more than you're ready to take into consideration. How does your partner make you feel? The answer to that question is very crucial. Does he/she make you feel loved? Important? Cared for? Or does your partner make you feel lonely? Irrelevant? Ridiculed? Disrespected? If your answer to the latter set of questions is "yes", and you're clinging on to the hope that it will "change", you need to LEAVE before it gets too late. Because if they make you feel that way, it's because of a certain innateness of their character which is not going to change as far as you're concerned. They might be a better match for someone else, but definitely not for you. Not when they make you feel like that.
Fights and disagreements: You have grown up having them with your parents, siblings and best friends. So it makes no sense to not expect to have them with your partner. They are inevitable and they never stop showing up. My mother always believed that you should never go to sleep fighting. And she incessantly tried to resolve every single conflict with both me and my father, before going to bed. Trust me, that method has been tried and tested, and it always fails (Sorry, Mom! But Dad will agree with me on this one). When you try to keep talking while you're still angry, you first of all, annoy the other person even more, and more often than not, people end up saying harsh things that they don't really mean when they're angry. The more you try to talk it out, the worse it gets. And once you say those words, you can never take them back. However, my tried and tested method is that of "sleeping on it". If you're upset about something, sleep on it. It gives you time to think and even relax a little bit. By the time you wake up in the morning, you're both more calm and collected. That's when you should talk about it because it's wayyyyyyy easier to come straight to the point and actually resolve the issue.
Harsh language: Never resort to using abusive or harsh language during an argument. Whether you realize it at the time or not, you drift further away from your partner when you try to insult them or strew abuses at them. It's a common tendency to think that the louder person wins the argument. It either has to be the loudest person or the one who has the last say. If you're someone who thinks like this, then with all due respect, you are very stupid. It's never about trying to defeat your partner's argument even if it means that you sound unreasonable in the process. It's not about having the last say even if it means twisting your partner's words. It's not about trying to make them shut up by calling them words. And it's definitely not about being the loudest person in the room. If you do any of these things during an argument, it just reflects on your stupidity and insecurities. The abuses that you throw at your partner will drive them away from you emotionally. Try not to even mentally call them names or direct negative thoughts at them. When you look at your loved ones, you should try to feel the love. Try telling yourself how much you love them. Try telling them more often that they're important to you. Instead, when you call them names mentally and to their faces, you push them away from you. And once they're lost, there's no going back. It's important to control and filter your thoughts/words, about/to the people who mean something to you.
Finding a Solution: Whenever you're dealing with a crucial problem in your relationship, try this trick that always works and gives you the right answer to all your questions. Imagine that you're the one listening to your own problem, and that it's happening in the life of someone you care for, like a sibling or a best friend. Think of the advice you would give this person, especially considering how you love them and want them to be happy. Be objective and caring, and come up with a solution that is best for the said person. And listen to your own advice no matter what. Because you, yourself have identified the best course of action. It's going to be the hardest decision of your life, applying your own advice to your own life. But you will know deep down that this is the best way to go about it. Hard as it may seem, you need to keep your heart and all attachment away from the equation. Only genuine concern, love, and reason can help you out in this case.
And lastly, try to give your everything to your relationship. If it still fails in the end, you'll at least go back with the knowledge that you never held back and gave it your very best. Good luck!
For stories on relationships, check out the journals of Marya, Gabby and Laxmi.