Everyone who enters an intimate relationship with some hope that it might last would do well to understand this general principle: To get what you most want from your partner, you must first become the partner you most want to be.

Two things happen when you focus too much on what you want from your partner, and both are bad:

  1. You will likely violate your core value, as you're really saying, "I will not be the compassionate and loving person I truly am until you do what I want."

  2. Your partner is likely to react negatively to your critical focus on him or her, even if you were not becoming less of the partner you want to be in reaction to him or her.

Relationships fail when the parties become the partners they think their partners deserve.

Your best chance of changing your partner's behavior is to change what he/she reacts to in you. Your partner is likely to respond in kind to your behavior, whether it is loving, compassionate, and supportive or resentful, demanding, and critical.

But regardless of how your partner responds, you will feel more authentic and remain true to yourself if you behave like the partner you most want to be. To paraphrase Gandhi, you have to become the change you want to see.

To become the partner you most want to be, try this free couple's therapy tool.


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