Is Your Relationship Changing You for the Better? - Wholesome Life Journal

Is Your Relationship Changing You for the Better?

oldest-paradox-of-romanceIt’s the oldest paradox of romance. We say adorable things to our partner like, “Don’t you ever change,” but by definition being in a relationship does change us. It’s a catch-22. Which raises the question: How do relationships alter who we are? Do they make us happier? Healthier? The conventional wisdom is a big fat yes—Shakespearean comedies end in marriage for a reason—but does the science back this up?

One major shift is how we self-identify after committing to someone. “When you start to refer to yourself as “we,” rather than “John and I,” the difference isn’t merely a turn of phrase. It signifies a change to your self-concept,” says Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D., chair of the psychology department at Albright College. This can lead to what she calls “self-expansion,” like picking up a new hobby, or “self-pruning,” the elimination of negative traits, such as smoking. “Self-expansion and self-pruning generally have a positive impact on your relationship and your own well-being.”

So far so good. But there’s also the risk of “self contraction,” where you lose positive traits you once had (like, say, your live-in boyfriend never exercises, so, gradually, your own motivation wanes), and “self-adulteration,” where you gain negative traits (like picking up his junk-food habits or reality-TV addiction).

Since these changes can be either good or bad, Seidman says that the trick is self-awareness. “You should be mindful of changes that you see occurring, when they are occurring. If you feel that you’re losing part of yourself, that’s a red flag that the relationship isn’t good.” (Read More)

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