“You’ve changed,” they say to you.
Feeling like an accusation.
Implying that if you hadn’t transmuted, then things would still be fine.
The first reaction is defensive.
“No I haven’t!” you insist, even while on some level being aware that as a living and adaptable being, you of course have been slowly changing over time.
Or maybe, you go on the attack, “You’re the one who’s changed! You never … anymore!”
Or, “The only reason I … is because you…”
But of course, the real harm in this declaration of change isn’t really the transformation. It’s the implication that you’ve taken a turn for the worse.
But what’s really behind those words? Here are a few possible meanings –
You’re Not What They Want You to Be Anymore
Maybe you used to let them walk all over you and you have since developed the confidence and self-awareness to set and enforce boundaries. And so they’re pouting, after being used to getting their way. Or perhaps you used to need them and you have since become more independent. And now they worry that you can be okay without them.
You’ve Grown While They’ve Stagnated
You met when you were young. You had nothing, so there was nothing to lose. But then came family, careers and a mortgage. The responsibilities were higher and so were the stakes. You grew, learning how to handle the stuff that nobody likes to deal with and willingly trading some temporary fun and freedoms for legacy and purpose. Meanwhile, they still act like a college kid living off their parent’s allowance and grumbling that you are not any fun anymore.
A Maladaptive Relationship Pattern Has Developed
It doesn’t matter who started it. One of you did something. The other reacted. And this negativity and ineffective methodology keeps being volleyed back and forth. Their reactions influencing yours and your responses driving their behaviors. Over time, this pattern has become a well-worn groove that has shifted the way you interact with each other and with yourself.
Life Has Taken You on Different Paths
And sometimes there’s nothing truly wrong. We all change as we move through through life and sometimes those changes simply take us different directions. “You’ve changed” may mean “We’ve changed” and we no longer fit together. Not as a proclamation of wrongdoing or blame, but simply as an admission of fact.