Can People Change?

Wanting someone to change can be a sign of a strained or stagnating relationship. Here are a few things to consider if you find yourself in this situation.

Adobe Stock/ Oleksandr

Can people change? The question may sound overly dramatic or philosophical, but if we’re thinking about it, it tends to be very personal. We often ask ourselves this question when we’re in a strained relationship, whether it’s with a friend, family member, or partner, whose actions (or inactions) are continually causing pain—to you, or themself, or both.

This isn’t about forgetting to load the dishwasher, but rather things like substance use, or dishonesty, or behavior that’s detached or cruel. Even when we come to terms with the fact that change is needed, and we communicate clearly with our person about it, actually achieving change can be much more complicated. In the midst of our frustration, a deeper question bubbles up:

Are people capable of real change?

In this video, philosopher Alain de Botton explains some of the barriers we should be prepared to face during these sorts of crises of relationship. 

The Four Barriers to Change
1) It’s really hard, for any of us, to achieve significant change in our lives.

First of all, one thing is clear: Even if human nature makes us capable of change, we don’t get there easily. 

Your person may overreact negatively to…