One thing you cannot change in relationships

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Leonardo DiCaprio once said, “Every next level of your life will demand a different you.”

How much did you change the last ten years? Do not think about your outward appearance, your job or your home. Think about your personality, preferences and values. And now rate it between 0 and 10, zero for not at all and ten for a total change. Note your answer.

What about the future? How much will you change in the next ten years? Rate again, write your answer down and compare it to your first answer.

On average people’s first answer is between 2 and 4 while the second answer is around 1. People of all ages believe that they have experienced personal change up to the present moment, but will not substantially grow in the future. This error in reasoning is called “End of History Illusion” and one of the key researchers of end-of-history, psychologist Daniel Gilbert, gave an interesting TED talk about the illusion where he explains the phenomenon may occur because of the difficulty of predicting one’ change or a satisfaction with the state of being.

Do you experienced the same illusion? Is your second number lower than your first number? If yes, don’t worry. It is only an error in reasoning but be aware of it when you are in a relationship.

I am in a relationship for a half a year now and I love my girlfriend. Here, in Germany you would call us “a good match”. However, we live in different countries and we only see each other every 8 weeks. Of course in the long run, this is not sustainable. That is why we are looking for ways to move together.

“So basically you have to wait a few more years till you can be sure.”

Asking my friends, they told me: “This is a really important decision and that is why you first have to get to know each other better. You first have to test how it is to live together and you fit together. So basically you have to wait a few more years till you can be sure.”

This made me curious: Do I really have to wait a few more years till I can be sure? I do not have those few more years because a long distance relationship makes me crazy.

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End of History Illusion

I think I don’t have to wait. It seems that my friends are just victims of the “End of History Illusion”. You know your partner better after 5 years of relationship than after only 1 year. However, it will be always impossible for you tell how your partner will change in the next 5 years, no matter how long you are already living together. Maybe, he or she will fall in love with Gin Cocktails and wants to visit regularly Gin tastings but you hate Gin. What then?

“Being in a relationship for a long time gives a wrong impression of safety.”

Being in a relationship for a long time gives a wrong impression of safety. If you handled to stay together over 5 years, it should be possible to stay together the next 5 years. But if you are only together 1 year, who can say that you even manage the next five years? In both relationships, there is the risk that it doesn’t work out because in both relationships people change.

Of course a five year relationship is less risky because both stayed together for a longer time and know each other better. However, the risk will always be there, even if you are together for over 20 years. You and your partner change from one year to the next. Who can ensure that you still fit together?

“You have to be sure that he or she loves you too and that this person is ready to take the same risk.”

Life will always be about taking risks. You cannot live without risks. But you have to be sure. Don’t be naive. You have to be sure that he or she loves you too and that this person is ready to take the same risk.

When you ask people what is really important in relationships they will tell you following words: Trust, Honesty, Respect, Communication, Loyalty and Safety. I completely agree. All those values are important for a good relationship but you will basically never have 100 % Safety. It is an illusion.

There will always be a small risk that you and your partner won’t be a good match anymore in the future because you drifted apart. This is the one thing you cannot change in relationships but you can live with it. Believe me. And how? Love.

Real love makes people taking risk they were afraid of. It makes us leaving our comfort zone. And this is beautiful about love. It helps us to forget what can happen in the worst case and puts our focus on the bright side of life.

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