Growth in a Relationship

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Thursday, February 09, 2023
By Todd D. Giardina, PH. D

Can you grow as an individual while in a relationship?

Well, that all depends.

Does your partner give space for that growth? Do they push you to try and explore? Encourage you?

Do you both support one another? (I sometimes call this the leapfrog. I’m going to stay steady while you jump over me. And then it’s my turn to jump, while you hold down the fort and stay constant.)

Or, does your person keep you restricted? Mock or shame you for stepping out of your norm? Say things like, “That’s not you.”

This is sometimes called dealing with projections. It happens that we try to (often unconsciously) maintain the role and image that others project onto us.

It’s a messy thing, loving yourself and someone else. It’s so hard to know who comes first? Who do I choose?

The hope is that everyone is aligned and the me and the you of it don’t matter so much.

But if you need to grow and your partner stifles you, then what?

Like most things, I think it starts with communication. Asking your partner what they worry will happen, to you or to us as a couple, if you take these steps towards change or growth.

Or explaining to your partner why you want to make these changes. Helping them understand your process. Showing that it doesn’t have to be a threat to the relationship.

The fear is often, “I’m being left behind.” Soothe that fear by showing the change doesn’t have to be an impediment. Sometimes it’s a point of growth for the couple. A renewal of the relationship. It forces us to lean toward the other and be curious, like we were at the start.

Absent that curiosity or openness…and change in the individual can spell trouble for the couple.

P.S. If you want to grow, as a couple or an individual, don’t forget to check out the Tough Love retreat we have coming up March 19, 2023.  You can reach out by emailing

(If you’re reading this blog after the fact, don’t worry. We should have more events coming soon. Stay tuned!)


“Growth doesn’t have to be a threat to your relationship.  So long as everyone stays curious and communicates openly.”
Dr. Todd Giardina.