It’s so tempting to focus on what the other person needs to change! You could probably offer the other person a lengthy lesson on all of the problematic things they’ve said and done, along with your suggestions for what they need to start doing differently to make the relationship better. It can be helpful to spend some time thinking about this, especially if there’s a chance that the other person is being abusive or has violated your boundaries within the relationship.

If the other person has been abusive in any way, remember that the other person is fully responsible for those abusive actions or words, and you have a right to physical and emotional safety in your relationship. 

Whether chaos in a relationship relates to abuse or non-abusive problems, it’s important to remember that you can’t make another person change. The other person is an individual with their own mind, and they make the choices about how they think, act, and respond to their emotions. In a healthy relationship, people consider other’s needs when making these choices. 

Unfortunately, you can only go so far in influencing someone who is not able to do this or who chooses to act in unhealthy ways. It’s helpful in the midst of chaos to remind yourself that you and the other person are separate. You may not agree with the choices they’re making, but you can make the choice to acknowledge their right to make decisions for their life. 

Adapted from previous HRI blog post.