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Can People Really Change?

The notion of change has long haunted relationships. We've always been told that we shouldn't expect our significant others to break old habits, namely because people don't change, but is that notion true? According to the March/April issue of Psychology Today, that once-believed rule about change is revealing itself to have many exceptions. The article says:

Tweaking the way you interpret and react to the world can be a transformative experience, freeing you up to act in new ways. At first, it feels awkward, even bizarre. But with new behaviors come new experiences, creating a feedback loop that, over time, reinforces the transition.

The article goes on to explain that though it does require working against some of your personality traits, change is possible. This explanation certainly holds true with me, but what have your own experiences taught you? Is change possible with time, perseverance, and commitment or is who you are a done deal by the time you reach adulthood?


Join The Conversation
Bellejam Bellejam 9 years
I believe change is possible,you can't force someone to change. The person has to look within themselves and see that they need to change whatever bad habits they have to change. They have to believe that whatever the change they are going to make is beneficial to them and others.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
I don't think it's "change" per se--in the sense of actually becoming a totally different person or having totally different thought processes and reactions to things--so much as it is recognizing reactions and behaviors that are harmful, and being able to become aware of them and work constantly to alter those reactions and improve those behaviors. You may not be able to change your initial, gut desires and responses to things, but you can definitely change whether or not you act out on those things.
citizenkane citizenkane 9 years
Change can happen. I know this because I am a great example! Before dating my current boyfriend (of 2 years) I was not a very good person. I partied way more than I should have and cheated on every single guy I ever dated. then, I took about a year off - finished college, got a 'real' job, instead of bartending / waiting tables, and got myself in order. Then, once I started dating my current bf, I knew that he liked me for was I was already....not what he wanted me to be down the road.
mosunshine27 mosunshine27 9 years
All it take sis 30 days - u can change any behavior by practicing another for 30 days - that is only if you want to. I believe people can change but they should do it on their own accord.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I think people can change for the better. They just have to be with someone that they are willing to do this for. Even look at my bf and I. We were both VERY different people before we started dating, but over the past year and a bit we really have changed to make the other person feel more comfortable and happy with our relationship. It hasn't been bad changes, but ones we both needed to make in order to grow up. No more partying like crazy for me, no more being a slut for we have time to focus on our careers and life and families and it really has made a differnece!
petite42 petite42 9 years
While I don't think you should ever go into a relationship hoping a person will change, I think change is absolutely possible. Of course the core personality remains fairly stable, but I have seen people undergo some amazing and stunning changes, changes that other people said would never happen. And over my own life, I have changed myself as well, in small ways and big ways.. and in ways others have said were impossible. What's always fascinated me is that once a person makes up their mind to change, change tends to occur quite rapidly and dramatically. This has convinced me that when someone says they are "trying" to change but it's too difficult... when they have a pattern of repeatedly falling back into bad ways... it means they haven't truly gotten to that point in their head where they want to change.
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
I think its possible to change for the better...I know i've changed over the course of my relationships...
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Bettyesque, well said!!
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
Change (for the better) is possible, thank goodness. But a person could change only himself or herself, nobody else, and vice-versa.
Meike Meike 9 years
Change is only possible for those who want change themselves either because they are the type of individual who wants to keep improving in various aspects of their own life or because they've had a wake up call.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
I believe that change is possible. For the first time I am with someone who makes me want to change the things about myself that hinder me from success in all aspects of life. Speaking and reacting before thinking has always been a huge flaw and started many arguments in the past. Also trust has always been a huge issue of mine and I have a tendency to make accusations with no real basis. I have noticed that because I love him so much these things will not make the relationship easy. I have started to talk about things calmly, address things rationally and not always aim for argument. I believe that these changes have strengthened our relationship a great deal. But it goes both ways, there are things that both parties sometimes have to change about themselves. Its about thinking in the "you viewpoint" and caring enough to better yourself thereby bettering your relationships. Thats my piece Betty
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
I think that if you want to change and make yourself a better person it is possible because it's likely that you put some thought and effort into it. I think when people say that 'people don't change' or 'you can't change someone' it's because unless that person makes an effort and a conscious decision to change on their own then it can't be done and you can't expect that person to all of a sudden act accordingly. I'm always looking for ways to better myself, my life, trying to live with an open mind, trying to take more risks, and finding some peace and happiness. I think it's always great to try to better yourself and sometimes it takes a conscious effort to change and some work at times.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
I think there's a difference between changing your own maladaptive behaviors for your own good and wanting your significant other to change their personality. I didn't read the entire article, but I didn't see a relationship piece in there at all.
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