“He can change”

by Dating Goddess on September 18, 2009

I heard the male version of this the other day from a friend pining for an ex-girlfriend.

Yes, people can change. Some can change at the snap of their fingers, vowing to stop or start a behavior immediately. A few actually accomplish that.

Others change after starts and restarts, taking days/weeks/months/years/decades to adopt the new behavior. Some are eventually successful; others never are.

And some people have no desire to make the change, even though they tell you (and perhaps themselves) they do. They make the verbal commitment and maybe some half-hearted attempts (or not!), but never shift one iota.

But nearly all of us do change. Some consciously and with effort to become better. Some, with no consciousness or effort, allow their bad habits to become worse. Very few midlife people behave exactly the way they were in high school or college.

Some people change out of a self-motivated desire to become a better person. Some change because they know it will make a loved one happier or less annoyed. And some refuse to change out of spite for someone, knowing a certain behavior sends them up the wall.

The problem with wanting someone to change for you to be happy with them is you will be unhappy until 1) they do, or 2) you accept them the way they are.

There’s an old saying that women enter a relationship expecting to change a man and men enter a relationship hoping the woman won’t change.

Deciding to stay in a relationship predicated upon the other person changing is asking for heart ache for both parties. You will never be happy unless they make the change. They will not be happy as they know you aren’t completely happy with them.

I’ve entered relationships thinking I can remodel the man into someone who fits my ideal. Have I been able to influence some behavior changes? Sure. But ultimately he resented it, just as I have if a man thinks I should be different than I am and tries to get me to conform to his idea of perfection.

When a 21-year-old relative was complaining about her live-in boyfriend, I asked her, “If he were to be exactly the same in 5 years, would you be happy?” The answer was “no.” If you can’t live with the man he is now, don’t make it permanent. People will change. We can’t control that. It’s part of being a growing human being. But if you are in the relationship counting on him to change for the better, you should move on.

Have you tried to change a sweetie? If so, how’d that work? Have you had someone try to change you? How did you feel?

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