Why You Should Never Change Yourself for Someone Else

Several reasons why you shouldn't change yourself for someone else. It's important to learn who you are and stand for that person.

I feel like I have about 8 million posts that I start off the same way — something to do with never feeling good enough or taking forever to find out who I was as a person. Truthfully, though, I lived that way for so many years that those and similar feelings taught me many of the different lessons I’ve learned today.

One of the biggest and most important was not to compromise my own identity for someone else. This wasn’t only for romantic relationships, but for friends as well. Several times I would find myself talking behind someone’s back so I could fit in and my “friends” wouldn’t turn on me, even though I felt sick while doing it. Today I make sure not to engage in that kind of behavior.

I remember every romantic relationship starting off wonderfully. I would be my wacky self and felt positive about the time I spent with another person. As the relationship turned serious, however, I was overtaken with a sense of fear that that pretty cool person (me) would be rejected. In order to prevent that from happening, I decided to like similar things, act in ways I thought the other person would like, and certainly not offer opposing views on things in order to avoid conflict.

A few, but certainly not all, of the ways I changed my personality were:

  • learning all about cars. Man, those catalytic converters. Two thumbs up.
  • sitting for hours at music practice. I hate “jam sessions.”
  • learning everything about video games. Now, I don’t hate video games, but I don’t love them THAT much (except Zelda).

My belief was that by being what someone else wanted, I could stay in the relationship indefinitely. If that relationship ended, I would leave feeling even worse about myself because my mindset was “if I was everything they wanted and they STILL left, what does that say about me?”

I feel like I should pen a whole follow up post about why you should be yourself in a relationship. Would you guys read that? It just seems like adding all the pros would make this post twice the length. LET ME KNOW.

So, to start, here are several reasons why you should never change yourself for someone else.

1. It’s manipulative

I remember the first time someone told me that changing my identity to fit another person’s ideal was manipulative. I was immediately offended and argued that it didn’t hurt the other person in any way, in fact, I felt like I was doing them a wonderful service.

Pretending to be someone you’re not is actually extremely manipulative (HA). You’re never even giving the other person a chance to know you as an individual and make up his or her own mind about whether to have a relationship with you — friend or otherwise. You’ve taken the position that you know what’s best for them and that’s you.

2. It’s exhausting

Constantly reading someone else to learn what they like and don’t like takes tons of effort. Most of your attention winds up focused on them and there’s very little energy left for yourself at the end of the day.

Another thing that makes it exhausting is the constant internal battle you may have in some situations. I didn’t like conflict, so I would avoid it at all costs. That meant not speaking up if I disagreed about something or just letting it go when I felt slighted. Always ignoring things that went against my own beliefs (what little I had solidified) was both mentally and emotionally draining.

3. It slows your personal development

I had a hard time figuring out who I was and what I liked and disliked because I spent so long just adopting traits from other people. When I was left with myself, there were very few things I was sure of. I knew some, like how much I loved animals, but how I felt about societal issues and my own characteristics were blurred by so many years of washing back and forth.

In addition, since I didn’t even know things about myself, that made it hard to know what I liked in other people. I often felt lost in relationships and even in trying to make new friends.

4. It’s not sustainable

I can sit through a lot of pain. I don’t know that that’s a good thing, but my track record shows that my life can literally fall apart around me and implode before I actually take some action to change things. I sat in a lot of relationships well past their expiration date simply because I didn’t want change and I didn’t want to be alone.

After awhile, sometimes years, all of that exhaustion would catch up with me and I would simply shut down. I had been playing an inauthentic role for so long and I simply couldn’t keep it up anymore. I would stop feeling, lose the emotional connection, and be done with the relationship. It was unfair and damaging to both parties.

Even though you may think you can continue pretending indefinitely, sooner or later you’ll hit a breaking point. Why waste time and energy on being something you’re not when you can spend it on becoming the best version of yourself?

Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud!

Questions:

  • Have you ever changed your personality for someone else?
  • What did you learn from that experience?
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19 Comments

  1. December 8, 2016 / 5:06 am

    “I sat in a lot of relationships well pst their expiration date because I didn’t want to change.” This is so me. This year has been all about change for me. It’s definitely been outside my comfort butbin a good way!
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted…2016 Get Healthy Holiday Gift GuideMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 9, 2016 / 2:50 pm

      You’ve done some serious stuff this year! Mad props to you girl.

  2. December 8, 2016 / 5:56 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever fully tried to change myself for someone else. probably because I am so GD independent. Also #lazy. But I have seen people do it, and it hurts me when they do, because it isn’t sustainable, and it never ends well.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Big News, Changes, Anniversaries, YoshiMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 9, 2016 / 2:50 pm

      Definitely not

  3. December 8, 2016 / 8:21 am

    As always, some profound things to think about. I know I’ve been caught up in agreeing with things around new groups of friends that i don’t agree with to fit in. But I’ve definitely made a conscious effort to stop that. Either someone likes you for who you actually are or they don’t. I don’t want anyone to like me for something I’m not.
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…Why I Don’t Want Another Gilmore Girls SeasonMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 9, 2016 / 2:51 pm

      Totally. It can be hard w friends too bc it’s so easy to just fall into what others are saying and doing. Nowadays I try and just surround myself w similar people so that doesn’t come up as much anymore.

  4. December 8, 2016 / 10:27 am

    I definitely tried to change in my younger years. Now I’m at the point where I’m not going to pretend to be interested in something I’m not.
    That said, I do think taking some interest in your partner’s hobbies is healthy because shared interests are important, but not to the point where you’re acting interested in things you totally hate.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…When Self Care is More Important than a ChallengeMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 9, 2016 / 2:52 pm

      Oh I totally agree. I’m always supportive of what Neil likes but I’m not going to spend time buying business books and trying to teach myself management strategies just bc he likes to talk about it haha

  5. Brave
    December 8, 2016 / 3:13 pm

    from my own personal experience, being on the receiving end of that kind of attention, doing that does not end well.. the person who is constantly changing themselves in order to maintain you in their life will inevitably shut down.. maybe it will be that they decide you are not what they wanted after all or just finally deciding that they don’t want a life with you.. i’m not too sure if it hurts on both ends, but i do know that being with a person who will change what they like to suit you does not make them immune to lying to you.. so though the person may have needed to go through those motions to hopefully learn something, and i hope they learned something about them self and that it was not just another failed attempt at getting over in life; because i do believe that if we like someone enough that we all change and even add to what we like.. it’s just a matter of proving that friend.

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 9, 2016 / 2:53 pm

      Great insight as I think that I’m on the opposite side so it’s good to hear from someone in your place. Ultimately, it’s not good for either party and usually ends in a mess :/

      • BJacobson
        December 9, 2016 / 4:23 pm

        well, yeah, yes, someone changing them self for you can hurt the person you are trying to seemingly do something for.. i can’t speak for everyone on the receiving end and i’m sure there are those who are opportunistic for that, but there are some few who are hurt at those types of behavior because of what could’a been….

        .. so your reasons on why you should never change yourself for someone else are on and very appreciated..

        cheers.

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 9, 2016 / 2:54 pm

      Good! Yup, just be the best version of you that you can 🙂

  6. December 8, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    Great post, Erin…and for the record, I think you’re cool even if we don’t like all the same things (ahem yoga, ahem burgers…) 🙂 xoxoxo

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 9, 2016 / 2:54 pm

      Hahaha. I would take a yoga class of yours though – but only bc I like you 🙂

  7. December 9, 2016 / 11:22 am

    2016 has been a lot of self-growth and learning about myself, including giving up things that I used to do. LIKE THIS!! I think people naturally gravitate towards each other while they spend time together, and it’s easy to get “lost” in that and not stay true to ourselves. Deciding to let a friendship fade because it didn’t fulfill me is hard and I think about it sometimes, but in the end I think it’s worth it!
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Tofu Teriyaki Buddha Bowl with Roasted VeggiesMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 9, 2016 / 2:58 pm

      Totally girl. You’re doing all sorts of big girl things this year 🙂 🙂

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 12, 2016 / 10:00 pm

      Thanks Arman! And yes, Zelda every damn day 🙂

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