Growth vs. Fixed Mindset in Relationships

You’ve probably already heard of the growth mindset, even if you don’t know exactly what it is. In essence, having (and nurturing) a growth mindset means believing that your abilities and traits aren’t fixed; instead, you can learn from your mistakes, build on them, and become a better person.

Here’s an example:

Imagine you’ve made a jealous scene about something that turned out not to be a very good cause for jealousy at all. As your boyfriend gets angry and starts throwing all of the “what is wrong with you”s, you’ll react differently based on what your mindset is.

If you have a fixed mindset, you’ll think: “I really am an idiot - I always do this! I’m such a jealous person ruled by my low self-esteem and I don’t deserve this guy!” However, if you’re nurturing a growth mindset, you’ll think more along the lines of: “I’ve made a mistake, I recognize that, and I’ll work on improving my self-esteem and being more realistic and less jealous in these situations.” That mindset and way of thinking allow you to work on improving yourself, your future behavior, and consequently your relationship!

Sounds good, right?

There’s another huge problem with a fixed mindset, and most of us (if not all) are guilty of it: justifying all our actions with a good ol’ “I am the way I am, accept me or leave!”

That’s an easy way out, isn’t it? “I don’t have to do anything to change myself for the better, I don’t have to do any of the hard work required to grow as a person, if you want to stay with me get ready to suffer due to my behavior.” That doesn’t sound too nice nor functional when it comes to a relationship, and especially so if you love someone.

I know - growing is hard (“growing pains” may well be a phrase about mental growth, not just physical one), but if you truly want to have a happy, healthy relationship, it’s what you’ll have to do. You won’t stop making mistakes and the two of you won’t stop fighting forever (nor should you), but you’ll be able to approach situations that bother you with far healthier emotions and resolve them with functional behaviors.

Otherwise, your partner will stay with you until the point they just can’t take it anymore, and you’ll probably keep on defending yourself by saying that “it’s just who you are”. What I want you to do is ask yourself: what good is that going to bring you?

© 2020 by Modern Coupling.