Hello again, dear friend Anonymous. Welcome back to our sex talk column where readers submit questions, then we do our research and craft a story to answer as many questions as we can. The topic of our latest submission: second chances. Can people change? Should we give a lover who hurt us a second chance? We tapped Michelle Afont, relationship expert, divorce lawyer, and multi-published author, to share her thoughts below.
We have all heard the sayings “Once a cheater always a cheater” and “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” If you believe either of these statements to be true, you may be missing out on an incredible romance with a partner who can and will change his errant ways.
One of the biggest mistakes we make in love is to sprint away at the first sign of trouble. Whether it be infidelity, dishonesty, questionable behavior, financial matters, lack of communication, or something as simple as household chore division, change from your partner is possible under the right circumstances. A high percentage of partners can, will, and do change.
If I made the mistake of thinking my husband could never change, I would not be living the incredible life I live today. This holds true for the majority of couples I work with who have overcome great obstacles through growth and change.
Now, let’s be clear, some things are deal breakers, but a majority of them are not. Why? Because our partners are human. And humans make mistakes. Couples do not cruise through life on autopilot, each never making a poor decision or having a lapse in judgment. When notable change from one partner is warranted in order to keep the relationship alive, the question becomes, “Is the relationship worth fighting for and saving?” If it is, and both partners are committed, the opportunity should be given to the one partner to change.
Change requires action. Therapy, counseling, behavior modification, and communication skills all demonstrate a willingness to change. Inaction from your partner, however, means saving your relationship is simply not a priority. How much time you give to see change will ultimately depend on two things: Your level of patience and the progress being made. A promise to change is nothing without taking action to change.
The ultimate question when change is needed to save the relationship is, “What is your partner going to do to correct the behavior, and how will it be prevented from happening again?” Do not stand by and wait for change without action on the part of your partner. Have a timeline in mind while still giving the opportunity for change.
While change can occur on many levels, it is important to note that core values are very difficult to change. A lack of conscience and remorse are not changeable traits. The same holds true for most political beliefs, pathological behavior, and an extreme lack of empathy.
Perfection in a relationship is not attainable. Someone along the way is going to need to make certain changes in order to keep the relationship afloat. Successful relationship changes can range from learning to share duties at home to becoming a devoted and faithful partner. Change can happen, and in most instances, you will emerge as a stronger and more committed couple once the changes are solidified.