You Can’t Make Someone Change If They Don’t Want To

As many of my loyal readers probably know, I had a boyfriend on and off throughout my last three years of college. At times, he made me (or I convinced myself he was making me) the happiest girl in the world. However, other times, he made me angry, upset, sad, and mostly, he made me question my self-worth. I don’t feel comfortable discussing the specifics of my relationship, especially publicly on the internet, partly because I am on good terms with him and wouldn’t want to jeopardize that, and partly because I’m choosing to move on from it. The reason I wanted to write anything about this subject at all is because recently, a lot of my good friends have been getting involved with boys who do not care about them. While I was dating my ex, some of my friends hated hearing about the things he would do or say to me, and would yell at me, criticize me, and make me feel even worse about the situation. So I stopped telling them. I kept (or tried my best to keep) it from them every single time he did anything even remotely bad. When I would lie and say nothing was wrong, they would look at me like I was a puppy who just got kicked out of its home. I hated that look, and I hated them for reacting that way. Why couldn’t they see the good in him like I could?

That was something I struggled with throughout my entire relationship. My friends made me feel bad for being with the person I wanted to be with. But when I finally realized that I had to start choosing my happiness over his, and that I had to stop going back to him every time he tried (and failed) to make things right with me, I started to see their side of things.

Once I was comfortable being by myself, and comfortable with the concept of making decisions based solely on my own happiness, it was hard for me to accept that some of my friends aren’t at that point in their life yet. I can’t judge them for this, though, because it took me three years of being unappreciated to come to my senses. I finally understand how my friends felt about my relationship, and even though I still believe that it was not their place to judge or comment on it, I can absolutely agree that it is hard to watch your friends go through something like that. It is even harder not to try to help them get out of it, or say how you’re feeling about it, or even to literally pick them up and shake them and scream you’re so much better than him, what the hell are you doing?! 

S0, to the girl that’s been in the relationship with the boy that didn’t value you: when you’re ready, think about how your life would change for the better if you started to put yourself first. I thought that I would absolutely die if I wasn’t with that boy, and I would legitimately have an anxiety attack at the thought of not being with him anymore; but I’m doing perfectly fine. I attribute this attitude about my breakup to waiting until I felt comfortable with it – I didn’t do anything on a whim. I thought about it for a long time before I finally built up the courage to choose myself and do what I had to do. He will always have a special place in my heart, but I can’t be with someone who doesn’t respect me or treat me the way I should be treated. I promise that once you come to terms with ending your bad relationship, you will be so extremely happy with how your image of yourself changes for the better.

To the girl that has a best friend in this type of relationship: feel free to give her your advice, but make sure that she actually wants to hear it. If you continue to tell her how horrible her boyfriend is, or how much she needs to change, or anything of that sort, she’s going to shut you out if she isn’t willing to take that advice. Speaking from experience, you can seriously damage friendships over this. I had some friends that were so aggressive about inflicting their views upon me that I got to a point where I couldn’t even bring myself to speak to them about anything at all, let alone speak to them about my relationship. I understand that it’s extremely difficult to watch your friend fall for that asshole who doesn’t like her, because I’ve watched that happen to my friends, too, but there are some things that she needs to figure out on her own. Unless she is in physical danger, my advice to you is to let her to do exactly that – make her decisions by herself, when she is ready to do that. You cannot force someone to want to change, which is one of the most important things my last relationship taught me. So yes, it definitely is painful to see someone you love go through something like that, but she has to want to make the decision to stop involving herself with that relationship.

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