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What Do You Do When Your Partner Just Won't Understand Or Change?

Question:

I have been with my girlfriend for 3 years. I am 41 she is 34. I am somewhat neurotic but nothing serious. She, on the other hand, has had a lifelong time of troubles, neurosis, running away from and becoming shy. She met me and I thought I could save her, or show her the way. Nothing major just show her the world isn’t so evil. She doesn’t trust anyone and thinks people are inherently evil. I thought I could show her there is a better life for her.

Alas, after 3 years of about 10+ breakups and getting back together, the “Oh I promise I will change,” or, “You are the one who needs to change,” and after I finally agreed to get therapy myself, I feel like its a dead end.

She is a lovely woman, with a heart of gold, who has issues but no matter how much I try to help her she just doesn’t get it. She just won’t let me in. Yet, she says she loves me and wants to be with me.

I really care about her, but I am not sure if I really love her, because I wish she would fix these issues… then I could love her. I know that’s not right but I can’t break free of her and I wish she would let me help her… What do I do?

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Answer:

You  are making a fundamental mistake about relationships and that is to ignore the fact that we must accept people the way they are or choose not to be with them. This error is clearly present in this quote: ” but I am not sure if I really love her, because I wish she would fix these issues… then I could love her…” Loving or being in love with someone does not rest on conditions such as the one you are setting. The basic fact is that she has the right to be the person she is even if that includes fears of and doubts about other people as well as the world as a whole. In fact, who is to say she is wrong. But, we are not here to engage in a philosophical debate. She is who she is. If you cannot accept her as she is then you will do her and yourself a favor by moving on. On the other hand, if you want a real and an intimate relationship with her then it has to be without conditions and without attempting to change her.

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