It is the main feature of fatuous love – lots of passion and good intentions but no real stability that comes from true and deep intimacy.
The bad habit of wanting to change the person you say you’re in love with, turn them into someone they are not, and fix their shortcomings is not love. It is a lack of respect towards the person you’re supposed to like, not to change. Psychology calls it fatuous love, that is the kind of relationship where one of the two wants the other to embody a particular ideal of man/woman.
If this is your case, let me tell you something you may not be aware of. You are not in love with a person. You are in love with an ideal lover. But what’s ideal is never real because reality is never flawless.
When your partner changes just because you tell them so, they are subjugated. When a person stops being who they are in order to please someone else (like many of us LGBTQ+ people did in the past – and still do today – pretending to be straight), interactions with others become toxic. There’s one basic rule to avoid this kind of relationship: to accept the other for the person they are, with their qualities and imperfections.
You never fully know the person you start relating to and falling in love with. It’s not easy, plus it takes time and mutual intimacy. The more we spend time with the one we like, the more we show our true colors. And so do they. Remember that physical intimacy alone is not enough. It would be best if you opened up emotionally, unfolding little by little, day by day.
The more you date somebody, the more your and their flaws come to light. When you both realize you can live with theirs and they can live with yours, you both accept each other fully and act accordingly. For example, if I don’t like how you clean our apartment, I’ll do it myself, and you’ll do something else. If you don’t like how and what I cook, you’ll take care of that, and I’ll do the dishes.
Living with the one you love requires arrangements for your daily life together to be as good as possible. Don’t think you’ll ever find Prince Charming or Mr. Perfect with no flaws because they do not exist. We all have our own imperfections, and that’s fine. We are entitled to be imperfect, never forget it.
Accepting others for who they are requires maturity. Maturity is something you acquire when you realize nobody is there to fulfill your expectations and (irrealistic) standards of perfection. Growing up, you are supposed to understand that no person in this world looks like the man/woman of your dreams – or illusions. Differences are inevitable and necessary if you both want to keep your own identities. Maturity also allows you both to go beyond the stupid little things that way too often harm relationships.
Authentic and genuine communication, honesty, and sincerity will always be the best tools to get along with the one you love and care for. Nonetheless, if you find it hard to go on – no matter how open your heart is and how good your intentions are – maybe you’d better reconsider your relationship. Instead of insisting on wanting to change your partner’s temper and nature, ask yourself why you keep on staying with someone you don’t fully like. Maybe because you’re scared to be single and lonely?
Alessandro Cozzolino, LBGTQ+ coach