Very often, there are parts of our friendships that we wish we could change. We like a friend but wish she'd call us more often. We enjoy hanging out with another friend but wish he would get a handle on his temper.
Perhaps we even stay in a friendship that isn't right for us because we hope our friend will change. It's often a fine line between encouraging a friend to be the best person they can possibly be and wanting them to be someone else.
Are you expecting a friend to change?
Can People Change?
Perhaps the first question should be whether or not change is possible. Are people fundamentally who they are forever, or is there a possibility that they can alter their perceptions, temperament, and interests?
The answer is yes, people can change. No matter what you're like right now, you always have the ability to choose a different path. This might mean that you improve on negative traits or change them completely.
For example, perhaps you're impatient and you snap at people easily. You vow to work on this and in time your patience level improves. You still tend towards impatience, but you learn how to deal with it so you don't act in a way that shows your impatience. As more time passes, perhaps your new way of dealing with impatience becomes the norm, and that impatient person you once were becomes a distant memory.
It should be noted that change takes time. Even if a person makes up their mind to change, their actions might take longer to follow suit.
Change can happen if someone:
- Recognizes a need for change
- Has a strong desire to make it happen
- Understands the steps to needed in order to change
- Is willing to physically do what's necessary for change (exercise, actively work on a temper, etc.)
- Is committed to change for the long haul
Helping a Friend When They Want to Improve Their Lives
One of the ways friends can help someone who wants to change is to support whatever they need to make change happen. This will be different for everyone, but often centers around improvement. Perhaps one person wants help with a negative trait (like being late), self-improvement (like weight loss or health), or an addiction. Friends can support us not by judging the things we struggle with, but with simply being there for us and offering encouragement.
Why Do You Want Them to Change?
It's a good idea to take a step back and figure out why you really want someone to change. The things that bug us in another person can be a sign of something we're not happy with in our own life. A secure friend may want a better life for their friend, but also understands that we're each on our own path.
Should You Want a Friend to Change?
Accept that there will be things you won't like in someone, but this doesn't mean you can't be friends with them. You might disagree politically or on religious views, for example. Maybe you disagree with a lifestyle or financial choice. You can have discussions with them but it's best to offer your opinions without judgment, and even then, only when asked.
If someone wants to change, it's up to them. Hounding them about something will not make them change. However, if there are issues that are getting in the way of your friendship, you can talk about them. Friends should have a desire to meet each other halfway, and if something is bothering you, a friend should at least wish to hear you out.
However, part of being a friend is accepting people as they are. We're not perfect. None of us are. So if a friend has a few negative quirks, try your best to deal with them.