How To Effectively Ask Your Partner To Change

Relationships are full of compromise since every person possesses a unique way of being and doing. Many of these compromises are simple and easy. If your partner usually goes to bed at midnight and you're typically ready to fall asleep around ten o'clock, it's a no-brainer to make it a routine to go to bed together at eleven o'clock. But what happens when simple compromises aren't enough, and you feel that you need your partner to change in order for the relationship to succeed? Are you incompatible as a couple, or is change possible?


Questions and concerns like these are more common than you think. According to the University of Chicago, 40% of partners involved in romantic relationships consider themselves unhappy with those relationships. Sometimes this is due to outside stressors like financial pressures or family judgments, and other times, the call is coming from inside the relationship (via BetterHelp). If you're searching for a way to compassionately request change from your partner, here is your guide.

Examine your intentions and manage your expectations

Before you approach your partner about the changes you'd like to request, take some time to get real with yourself. Write down what is bothering you about your partner in a relationship journal and detail how you are affected by these issues (via Happier Mind Journal). Once you've gotten your concerns out in your own words, look back at what you wrote. Assess each item and ask yourself the following question: is this a behavior or an inherent trait?


Asking your partner to change the core traits of their personality is unfair and also probably won't work long-term, according to PsychCentral. Spend some more time on any item on your list that doesn't identify a specific modifiable behavior and narrow it down further until one emerges. Next, elaborate on the effect each behavior has on you and why you need it to change. Include how the problem behavior makes you feel, and a suggestion for a replacement behavior you'd be more open to that still gets your partner's point across.

Be clear, assertive, and compassionate

If you've never been asked to change for the sake of your partner, you might not understand how triggering it can feel. Being in a romantic relationship with another person and being vulnerable with them can be terrifying on its own for people with trust issues, rejection-sensitive dysphoria, or insecure attachment styles (via ADDA). Receiving a request for change can feel like a painful rejection and trigger a defensive reaction. To counter this, present your request using "I" statements, as detailed by GoodTherapy. For example, rather than stating that "You always yell when we argue," lead with the way you're affected. A statement such as "I feel threatened and afraid when you yell during arguments" paints a more complete picture of why you're asking for change and sounds less accusatory.


Keep your request as simple and direct as possible. Practice communicating assertively and stating your needs in a calm and direct manner without attempting to manipulate. Be open to your partner's feedback and actively listen with empathy. If he or she presents you with a request for a change in your own behavior, be receptive. Through open communication and a joint effort to support one another in healthy change, your relationship may end up stronger than ever.