Source: Kari Shea via Unsplash
Having had the privilege of attending psychotherapy to take care of my mental health has given me valuable life lessons. One of them is, what happens with people around you when you are the one who is changing. When you discover things about yourself. When you see the world differently. When you understand things that weren’t even in your top of mind before. I’ve always said that going to therapy (like the road feminism has taken me) is similar to when you’re told you have to wear seeing glasses: you see the world differently, which is healthier and more real, but it also means you see things you weren’t aware of before.
When we grow, mature, and lean into the different stages in our life (rather than resisting them), we begin a process of transformation. And when this happens, undoubtedly, people around you are forced to change the way they interact and relate to you.
The way I understood this in therapy is that people and their relationships are like gears: when you change, your gear changes as well. Consequently, if that gear changes, it doesn’t fit or bond with the other pieces as smoothly as it used to. In a similar fashion, when someone grows or changes, they can begin to feel as though they don’t fit in or “click” with some people.
The speed and time with which each person grows may vary. In fact, even the way in which they can change might be different. There are some who, like me, use psychotherapy as a space for growth and change. For others, activities like yoga, a new job, or moving can spark that growth. What is a common denominator for anyone who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, is that it produces a profound change in people’s relationships. Whether it’s a friendship, work relationship, a romantic partner, or one with a family member.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve outgrown someone in your life, let me list 7 different signs that your “gear” has changed:
- The conversation feels forced between you two. While the conversation used to be easygoing and fluent before, it now feels awkward and odd.
- You don’t feel emotionally or intellectually challenged. You have a feeling that conversations are monotonous and lack depth and meaning.
- You make excuses or feel uncomfortable when they try to make plans with you. You feel apathy towards hanging out with them or activities that used to be enjoyable now feel boring.
- You restrain yourself from sharing personal or professional accomplishments. You feel guilty about sharing good news about your job because you feel they won’t relate or understand.
- You feel bored when you spend time with them. You find yourself thinking of other fun things you might want to do and are immediately overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness because you know they won’t share your excitement.
- You feel you’re on different “pages”. You find it difficult to relate and connect with what each of you is doing because you have different priorities and values that don’t align anymore.
- You find yourself constantly picking fights for the smallest things. Everything – no matter how small – seems to be something that starts a fight between you two.
Making yourself aware of these changes in our personal relationships is not an easy task. Sometimes, it can be incredibly painful and we might wish that things would go back to the way they were before, just so we don’t feel uncomfortable. However, it is important to realize that these changes and this growth are inevitable, and they are the first step towards understanding this new stage of life. In essence, you’re the same person you were before, but you now have a deeper understanding of life which, undoubtedly, has an impact on your values and motivations. And you shouldn’t apologize for this. You shouldn’t apologize or feel ashamed of your growth.
These signs are applicable to a variety of relationships: romantic, friendship, work, and/or family. If you’ve perceived these signs in any of your current relationships, it’s important to open the space and communicate your observations. The level of receptiveness of the other person will give you a good idea on the next steps to take.