08 Jul Should I Wait For My Boyfriend To Change?
Are you in love with someone who swears they want to change, but can’t quite seem to make the leap? Have you started to wonder how long is too long when waiting for someone to change? Should you cut your losses immediately and walk away, or stay and hope they come around?
You’ve probably heard “People don’t change,” “Leopards never change their spots,” and other well-meaning pieces of advice. The problem is that these are generalizations. If they were true all the time, no one would ever change or improve.
Because every situation is different, there are no hard and fast rules. The good news is that you can steer yourself in the right direction by asking yourself a few questions:
Are you betting on potential?
Are you in love with who your boyfriend is, or just what he could become? It’s OK to want someone to change, but are your expectations realistic? Do you need him to change a couple of bad habits, or are you holding out for a personality transplant? Be honest!
Has your boyfriend taken any steps to change, no matter how small?
It’s easy to make promises, but change only happens when someone takes action. If you’ve been trying to get him to change for months and nothing has happened, it’s unwise to assume he’ll suddenly wake up one morning and decide to be a better man.
What are your family and friends telling you?
When you’re in love, it’s easy to become blind to your partner’s faults. Although they can never know the full story – they aren’t in the relationship, after all – a trusted friend or relative can gently point out patterns in your partner’s behavior. This can help you weigh up the likelihood he’ll change.
What is your intuition telling you about your relationship?
If your gut is screaming at you to run, or whispering that he’ll never change, it’s time to listen.
On balance, does the relationship bring you more pain than joy?
Love isn’t supposed to hurt. Sure, every relationship has its challenges, but staying with someone who brings you down isn’t healthy. Not every relationship works out, and that’s OK. Sometimes, you need to date lots of people before “the one” comes along.
Are you willing to support your boyfriend as he makes changes?
Even if your partner shows true commitment to change, it doesn’t mean you have to stick around. For instance, supporting someone with an alcohol dependency as they move to a sober lifestyle is mentally taxing. If you don’t feel ready or able to offer that kind of support, that’s OK. You don’t have act as an unpaid caregiver.
How To Set Boundaries
Everyone has the right to decide what they will and will not tolerate in relationships. You need to establish your limits, and tell your boyfriend what will happen if he doesn’t make changes. For instance, you could say, “If you don’t join a rehab program within a month, I won’t be continuing this relationship. I need to be with someone who takes their health seriously.”
Note that this isn’t the same as an ultimatum. Ultimatums are threats, whereas boundaries simply set out what you will do if the situation doesn’t change. Boundaries empower you.
It’s tough to walk away from a relationship. When we fall in love, we want to believe that our partners will work with us. We like to think that, with the right encouragement, they will become better, healthier people.
Forced Change Is Worse Than No Change
Finally, remember that lasting change only comes from within. Forcing your partner to do something won’t end well. They will resent you, and your relationship will slowly crumble.
Focus on your own needs instead. Is the relationship slowly moving in the right direction, or has it stagnated? It may be time to move on. It’s great to love and support someone else, but never forget that your mental health and wellbeing comes first.
Still confused about whether or not you should wait for change or let go? Consider talking things over with a therapist. A therapist is an unbiased third party who can help you process what you need. Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in relationships in the San Jose and Milpitas areas. Find out more about couples counseling here, and individual counseling here.