I always believed that if I wanted to find true happiness and live up to my parents’ expectations, I had to marry the perfect guy. Unfortunately, it took several years and more than a few boyfriends for me to realize I had to stop trying to train men like circus animals.
If he isn’t good husband material, why am I dating him in the first place? I’ve always believed a good boyfriend isn’t one who needs to be changed very much. So he picks his nose and doesn’t always change his socks—so what? He might be a little bit gross but at least he’s sensitive, open to communicating, and has never cheated on a woman in his life. If he’s a good person, he won’t have to change very much to be a great future husband, right? Otherwise, I shouldn’t be dating him in the first place.
Dating doesn’t need to be that serious from the start. I’ve dated a lot of guys and every time I’ve agreed to be exclusive, it was with the understanding that we were serious. I figured I would test a guy out to see if he was acceptable, and if he wasn’t then I’d either groom him to be better or dump him. Why I thought casual dating needed to be so serious so early on, I’ll never know. It just added unnecessary pressure to the relationship and the guy. I should have just enjoyed the moment.
I should be working on myself. While dating, I would always let the guy know if he did something that bothered me. I’d make him chew with his mouth closed or pick up after himself. I wanted him to be the kind of guy parents swoon over and sisters would envy me for having. My future husband had to be the best of the best, but I never stopped to consider how I could be that for him. Why was I trying to groom someone when I needed to improve myself as well? Once I pulled my head out of my own butt, I stopped trying to train my boyfriends and started focusing on being the best me I could be.
A nag does not a good girlfriend make. No one wants to be told what to do. When you’re in a relationship, you should be happy and look forward to being with your partner and that just wasn’t the case with most of my exes. I once had a boyfriend admit he sometimes avoided me because he didn’t want to be corrected all the time. He just wanted to hang out but sometimes I made that difficult. I felt awful and apologized, but I never forgot what he said and I’ve learned from my mistakes.
Other people’s expectations don’t have to be mine. After a while, I had to ask myself why I was always trying to fix the guys I dated. After a random visit to my parents one day, it suddenly became clear: all my dad did was talk crap about my sisters’ partners behind their backs and it made my siblings feel like crap. I’d been dating according to his ideals in the hopes of meeting his ridiculous and impossible standards. I didn’t want that and I realized my dad’s opinions shouldn’t matter at all. I’d marry who I wanted and if my dad didn’t like it, too bad.
If he lets me train him, he’s not end-game material. Any guy who lets his partner boss him around is asking for a complicated, unsatisfying relationship. There’s no possible way I could ever be happy with a pushover. Interestingly, I wanted a man who would stand up for himself but who would also be willing to change habits I didn’t like. It should come as no surprise that it never happened.
Couples should be equals. I was raised to believe that people in a relationship should help lift each other up. I wanted a partner, not a pet or a master. If I tried to train my boyfriend, then I’d be calling all the shots. There was no way I was going to do that to someone I loved. I want us to be 50/50 in everything.
No one’s perfect. Even if I found a great guy and turned him into my version of perfection, there’s no way to guarantee my dad would approve or that I would even be happy with him in the long-run. People change. He could be my perfect Prince Charming for a few years, then turn into a total stranger. Hunting for perfection wasn’t going to work, and neither was any amount of training.
When you stop looking for “The One,” they tend to find you. I got out of a relationship and was ready to delete my online dating profiles. It just so happened that a message caught my eye just as I was about to press the “deactivate” button. I wound up giving him my number and discovered he was the man I’d spent the last two decades searching for. He wasn’t perfect when we met but I didn’t feel the least bit interested in changing anything about him. I loved him, “flaws” and all.
I’d rather we grow together. It was through many trials and errors that I discovered the secret of healthy relationships. A healthy couple works on themselves as individuals and as a couple. They wake up thinking, “How can I be a great husband/wife today?” and they set personal goals. I’m not the perfect wife by any means and he’s definitely not the perfect husband, but we’re happy together and perfect for each other. I don’t worry about trying to “fix” him and I’ve never been happier.
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