Don’t you just wish your man would just be more outgoing? Or do you want your woman to be more of a social butterfly? But can you really change him or her?
Several of the people I know in relationships have something they want their mate to change. Women often think they can initiate or motivate the change. When men are looking for change in their mate, they tell them what to do to affect the change they “need” in their lives, and then they expect the woman to follow the instructions.
In my experience, neither methodology generally works. Change can be influenced by a number of factors, but ultimately, the decision lies with the person confronted with acting, talking or living differently. Let me share some examples.
Why Would I Change, You’re Still Here, Aren’t You?
I had a client a while back who was so in love with this guy, though, he didn’t really show much sign of being in love with her in return. Actually, he really didn’t show any signs of being in “like” with her. He was okay with having sex with her periodically, but even that was 100 percent on his terms.
She felt like he was capable of being so much more—a better boyfriend, a better lover and possibly a great husband. She pressed him to change. She wanted him to treat her differently. She wanted him to spend more quality time, take her out on dates and be there for her.
He was never capable of being that for her. He would speak in vague terms to string her along, but even with that, he would often tell her not to call, not to text and not to visit (Yes, really!).
But…she was still around. Although much of her issues were deep-seated brokenness, which requires healing, some of the things on the surface could be addressed. She could see he wasn’t going to change, but she stayed around. He told her through his actions that he wasn’t going to change, yet she was still in the pseudo-relationship. He had no reason to change. He was being a terrible boyfriend and a terrible person, yet she tolerated it.
If you want a child to change, to get to a different behavior, you have to be willing to let the child have consequences for their current actions for them to understand the behavior will not be tolerated. To effect change in a relationship, where someone is mistreating you, you have to offer appropriate consequences. Bad behavior and mistreatment should not be tolerated. You can’t expect someone who treats you badly to change how they treat you if you keep coming back for more.
You Can Talk Until You Are Blue in the Face…
Many years ago, I dated someone who was very nice in general. The one exception was that she couldn’t forgive. She had some people who had done her wrong in the past, and she flat out refused to forgive. It created a vitriol in her I had never seen before.
The grudge she was carrying and the disdain for the people who hurt her was a huge weight on her shoulders. Every time she had to interact with them, the lack of forgiveness would come up again. I finally had a talk with her and asked her to forgive. She wouldn’t do it, and she wasn’t willing to try to change.
It was ultimately the reason for the end of our relationship. I talked to her about this issue until I was blue in the face. I was offering suggestions, books, counseling and other options. She didn’t want to do it. She was determined to extract the pound of flesh she felt she was owed. The point here is that even though her lack of being able to forgive destroyed our relationship, impacted her life greatly and affected other relationships, she wasn’t ready to change. Until she made a personal decision, there was nothing anyone else, or I, could do to make someone else change.
In summary, I believe you can’t change people. Even with consequences or discussions, you don’t have the power to change anyone. Only an individual can decide to make a change. You can influence change but only to an extent. You have the power to make decisions as well. Always make decisions based on your personal well-being over your desire to change someone. You can’t make someone who is not good for you be the right person for you. Often, you will have to be the one to make a change in the best interest of yourself and not wait on others.
BMWK, was there something you wanted to change about a past or current partner? If you got them to change it, how did you influence that change? If not, what happened in the relationship?
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