If you only ever listen to one piece of relationship advice, let it be this — don’t change for a man. Women are constantly advised on how to be a better girlfriend, fix their relationship problems, pick up men, but one thing we are not told enough is that you should never have to change for a man because he will never change for you.

Pick up any men’s magazine, and you probably won’t see articles offering male readers advice on how to be more sensitive or romantic for their girlfriends. Yet entire sections of women’s magazines and online websites are devoted to telling women how its up to them to make a change in their relationship. Most of the time, this change comes in the form of changing themselves for the man.

Women are told to take charge and change the situation if they are unhappy. Is your significant other not communicating? Set down a time for you to force him to talk. Does he not spend enough time with you? Make plans for you two to have dinner together three times a week. If he loves and cares about you enough, he will be happy to change for you, right? Wrong. Most likely, trying to change your man will make him feel further away from you.


Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart on Flickr

What we don’t realize is that people don’t change unless they want to. This past Valentine’s Day weekend, millions of people went to see the new Fifty Shades of Grey movie, a story of an innocent woman trying to change a violent man in the name of love. She is willing to accept his behaviors, although they make her unhappy, because she hopes that she can change him. This is a horrible message to pay any attention to.

I’ll admit that women romanticize this idea that they can turn a bad man good. We want that bad guy who is only good for us, whereas guys want a nice girl who is only bad for them. Women think that if they stick it out long enough, then eventually her man will get the point and change his ways. Unfortunately, real life relationships don’t work that way unless we want to be met with disappointment. I realize this comes off somewhat bitter, especially after a weekend of love, but women need to stop being told these false realities.

I dated a guy who lived a lifestyle that I couldn’t stand. He would party, smoke, drink, and then party some more. I would ask him to stop for me, and he would for about two weeks until the withdrawals kicked in again. I waited around for him to choose me over this party lifestyle, thinking that if I was important enough to him it would be an easy decision to make. Instead, he told me I should stop trying to change him.

In a weird way, he was right. If you love someone, then that means you also love their flaws. You accept them for who they are and what they do. Compromise is a good thing in a relationship, but change is not. There should be some give and take, but it shouldn’t be a tug-of-war. Men aren’t willing enough to change, and women are often too willing to change. Who should win and who should step down? No one.

124315322_efe6bf96ed_zIt wasn’t until a year after I finally left this guy that he dropped this lifestyle and got his life together. For so long I wanted him to change for me, but he told me it was because he woke up one day realizing that this is not he life he wanted. He changed because he wanted to.

I think we so badly want people to change for us because we want to feel important and loved enough for that to happen. We want people to be the best person they can be because that is how we view them. Unless someone loves themselves first, though, they won’t be able to love you the way you need them to. Rather than forcing change or putting the responsibility on ourselves to change, we should be more accepting and supportive. If that still doesn’t work, then leave because your happiness should always come first.