Sunday, July 17, 2011

How Much is Too Much?

Of all the uncertainties in life, one thing is certain--people change.

For better, or for worse, people change.

With every new experience, with every decision, with every new encounter, be it conscious or unconscious, they shape who we become. They are sometimes so subtle, that we may not actually be able to look back and point to a specific moment in time when we truly changed.

Sure, sometimes it's some life-altering experience. A near-death one, a traumatic one, a meeting with an idol, a mentor, a betrayal, a careless moment. A moment where, thereafter, changed the way you behaved, responded, acted. Sure, these, are easy to pinpoint. With these kind of moments, you can say, "Yes, here was a life-altering moment."

But what if you looked back and there were no such moments? For most of us, we cannot say there was some "life-altering" moment, and yet, five years, six years, ten years down the line, we are (completely) different from who we once were.

Depending on whether it was "for better" or "for worse", we are either pleased, or upset, that we got this way.

In the natural order of things, we mature, we "grow up". Physically, of course. But also, and more importantly, mentally.

That is not the kind of change I mean.

The little things. The way we dress, the way we speak, the people we hang out with, the things we are comfortable with, the lengths we are willing to go to to achieve something we want. Things that you may not realize have changed about yourself if someone had not pointed it out.

Now if a friend of yours had changed, to the point that you wonder, "Who is she? Where is the person I used to know?" What does that mean for the friendship? If the person is no longer who you first became friends with, is walking away from the friendship justified? Even if you have been friends for years and years, they're completely different people now. So can they blame you for no longer wanting to be friends?

If your Significant Other in a committed relationship has changed so much from the person he or she used to be when you first started off as a couple, what does that mean? Can I say, "You're no longer the person I first fell in love with." Should breaking up be the next step?

What if it were your spouse? The person you married? The person you vowed to love, for always? It is likely that many years down the line, your husband or your wife will not be the same person he/she was when you first got married. They change, you divorce them?

First of all, I am talking about significant change. Not the she-paints-her-toenails-a-different-colour-now kind of change. Be serious. Significant changes. Changes that maybe go against what you stand for, what you believe, what you're passionate about. Or they become the kind of people you despise, or never liked. Changes that you doubt you will ever be able to tolerate, or an issue you can never compromise on.

What then?

It is truly unrealistic to believe that in any relationship, the other person will stay the way they are, forever-and-ever-amen. Whether in friendships, or with your spouse.

But is it really unfair to hope that they do, somehow remain, essentially, the same? Somehow, that does not sound too unreasonable, does it?

But if that were so, do we enter all these relationships with some hidden or unspoken clause? That the relationship will continue if and only if the person remains, in all significant aspects, the same. What then, are those "significant aspects"? Where are the lines drawn?

How much can a person change to be considered acceptable? 

How much is too much

At which point do you say, "This ain't what I signed up for. I'm out."?

On the one hand, I believe it is only fair that you allow the other person room to change--to be whoever they want to be, regardless of whether that change is approved by you.

But on the other hand, I also believe it is reasonable to want the other person to stay who they were when the relationship (friendship/marriage) began.

So I'm stuck. Who's right? Who's wrong?


Mr Lonely said...

liked this post.. =D

SandraC said...

i think change is unevitable in human nature..i would quit when i feel that it is stagnant n not helping in personal growth. that is the single me..if i were married then cheating would be the last straw

Liz said...

Definitely cheating is beyond forgiving for me too >.<