If you’ve ever changed someone accidentally or on purpose, you know that it’s very much possible for people to change, sometimes in dramatic ways. If you’ve ever set out to change someone, you know that it’s unlikely to work, and likely to be a huge waste of time.

If the question is “Is it okay to want to change someone?” my answer would be, Of course. We are allowed to want people to be different. If the question is, “Is it prudent to try to change someone?” I would say, Definitely not.

Your life will probably be better, and definitely be more straightforward, if you take people exactly as they are. This is classic dating advice for a reason. It is good practice to note somebody’s flaws as they are revealed to you and presume that each flaw will remain intact until the day the person dies. This is because people are stubborn. If you’ve ever tried to convince a friend to breakup with a bad girlfriend or boyfriend, you know exactly what I mean. Someone can tell you of their own accord they want to make a change, suffer from their equilibrium, and then proceed to not make a change for five years. Or twenty-five years, even.

Unfortunately, some of us suffer from a condition—the condition of wanting to change other people. This is a incurable condition that many of us contract from our parents. It’s not all downside—this is why people become therapists and self-help writers and teachers. Most of my favorite people in the world suffer from it. I often hear this discussed in the language of codependence (hi Ben!) and the two are certainly intertwined, but I don’t think it’s just about that. We all want people to change, even if we don’t need them to—who doesn’t want their loved ones to make better choices? But whether or not it’s healthy often depends on the degree of investment.

Read more on Bookbear Express.

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