Don’t Bother Trying To Change A Guy—Wait For One Who’s Already Exactly What You Want

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could build yourself a perfect boyfriend? Admit it, you’ve tried your damndest to transform some poor schlub into Prince Charming. No judgment—I’ve done it too—but here’s why that’s never a good idea:

  1. Everything becomes a fight. Love is hard enough between two people who already fit each other’s needs, but when you’re attempting to mold a guy’s behavior, the whole relationship becomes a constant power struggle. You never get to relax and enjoy your connection because you’re perpetually tensed for his next screw up. And when he DOES screw up, you resent the hell out of him (after all the sweat and tears you’ve invested, no wonder you’re so pissed). Don’t put yourself through that mess. You really can hold out for the guy who fits you right.
  2. When you’re focused on making him better, you’re less focused on making you better. In your effort to change a guy, you waste all your energy on fixing his flaws—at the expense of your own self-improvement. Don’t work on him, work on yourself and kick him to the curb if he’s holding you back.
  3. You’re not mommy or his teacher. But that’s how he’s going to see you if you start laying down rules. There was only one reason for all those regulations his parents and educators enforced when he was young: he wasn’t mature enough to handle himself. Don’t settle for a dude who still hasn’t figured it out. If you date someone who behaves like a rebellious little boy, you’re going to miss out on dating someone who is indisputably a responsible grown man.
  4. It doesn’t work and you’ll be disappointed. Sorry, it doesn’t. Not to get all new age on you, but change really does come from within. No matter how persistent you are, your efforts will be in vain. Couples can certainly motivate each other. You can be his cheerleader when he’s set his mind on overcoming a bad habit. You can hide the cigarettes he wants to quit smoking or sweat with him at the gym, but he’s got to be ready to improve for his own sake—not because you pushed him to.
  5. He’ll resent the hell out of you. Nobody wants to feel like a project. Constant critique is the enemy of happy relationships. How would you react if he started picking on you? I’m guessing you’d tell him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. He’s likely to do the same.
  6. If he goes along with it, do you want someone so spineless? Jeez, this is even worse than his telling you off. If he’s willing to make like Gumby and bend to your every edict, you’ll get bored in a minute. You may think you want a guy who’s eager to please at every turn, but what you truly need is a man who challenges you and helps you to grow.
  7. He might pretend to give in while actually staying as he is. Some boys will promise you anything if it helps them to get laid. Sure, he might begrudgingly attempt a few listless adjustments, but none of those apparent improvements will be authentic. When he’s merely giving you lip service, you’ll be unsatisfied without knowing why. You don’t need some jerk handing you “yes, dear”s then going behind your back.
  8. Trying to change him is desperate. Desperation ruins everything. It’s an emotion that overwhelms good sense. It makes you feel like crap. Don’t let fear of loneliness dictate your romantic choices. Stay the course. Interesting, sexy, supportive men do exist out there. Never settle.
  9. A guy deserves a woman who loves him as he is. There are two possibilities: One, he’s such a jerk that he shouldn’t be dating ANY woman. Two, he’s actually a good man—he just doesn’t do it for you. The common factor here? He’s not right for you. So let him go his own way. 
  10. A woman deserves a guy who inspires her. Forget engineering your check-list-perfect guy. When you meet a man who’s already amazing, he can encourage you to pursue your own goals, consider new perspectives, and become the best version of yourself. Yeah, I know, you’re amazing on your own, but if you’re going to be with a dude at all, hadn’t he better be the dude who plays a positive role in your life?
  11. It’s more fun to find the right guy in the wild than to build him in the lab. When you feel your soul click with another’s, it’s an experience beyond compare. There’s really nothing sappy about it. You’ve reached the end of a quest. You’re a hero reveling in her well-earned happy ending. When you try to change him, you’re the creepy chick fiddling with formulas and accidentally manufacturing a monster. Even if you majored in chemistry, you really ought to quit trying to force some hapless boy into your version of perfection and let nature do its thing.
  12. No matter how much you truly love him, he might not be right for you. He’s so sweet, but he totally lacks ambition. Or, he’s the most fun you’ve ever had but he doesn’t want kids and you’re ready to raise a family. The hard truth is, he could be perfect on some levels, but if he doesn’t satisfy ALL of your deep needs, eventually things will fall apart. Go with your gut. Even when doing so is painful. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.
  13. Sometimes you don’t even know what you need until you find it. You’re trying to change him because you don’t have a true connection with him. If he were “The One,” you’d be a little more forgiving of his eccentricities and deviations from your more superficial must-haves. As it is, you fixate on his failings. Don’t try to force yourself to like him. When you meet the right one, it’ll happen naturally.
  14. If he’s not what you want, you’re probably not what he wants. True love creates balance and mutual respect. You count each other’s admirable qualities rather than dissecting one another’s faults. But when you’re not so crazy about each other, you both tend to become easily annoyed with each other’s habits and attitudes. If you want to change the guy, remember—he probably wants to change YOU too. The best thing for you to change in that case is your relationship status.
Jackie Dever is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sampling craft beers.