"Don't date or marry a man in hopes that you'll change him"

The conventional advice to women is, “Don’t date or marry a man in hopes that you’ll change him, because it won’t happen”, but have any of you anecdotally experienced just that - a woman dating or marrying a man in hopes that she’d be able to change him as she hoped/planned, and it happened?
(Both men and women can answer this question.)

I’m pretty sure my ex married me with that intent. It didn’t work, but she tried for 18 years.

I would replace “a man” with “anyone”, because the same holds true for dating or marrying women. I stayed with my completely bat-shit-crazy nurse girlfriend WAY too long, because I felt I would be a good influence on her. Man, was I young and naive.

The flat-out-doomed practice of “Your love will change him” was going strong for the Boomers back when.

One of my nephews was apparently married by someone who didn’t even recognize that he wasn’t marriage material for anyone, let alone her.

When your hubby talks about his adventures - in the first-person SINGULAR, you really screwed up in your selection.

Where it happened, no. Where it didn’t happen, yes.

One that leaves me scratching my head is where two people have a very bad but complementary relationship (the couple I’m thinking of right now were a Knight in Shining Armor and a Damsel in Distress), but eventually the same things that made them match become irritants… and the replacement is the same model. If you happen to replace a needy git or a bossy overlord with another, you’re changing a lot of nothing much.

I didn’t change fundamentaly but I did make some major changes in my behavior after marriage. She said she saw potential in me. Problem was that once I changed my behavior I found I didn’t like her behavior.

I suspect familiarity may play a role in it. It may simply be what they are accustomed to - being in problematic relationships.

“Women hope men will change after marriage but they don’t; men hope women won’t change but they do.”

Bettina Arndt, BSc, MPsych, Australian sex therapist, journalist and clinical psychologist.

Women, I feel, always have that in the back of their mind. But, it’s usually something not so bad like “as soon as we are back from our honeymoon his bachelor crap is out the door”.

Or maybe they look at a man as a “fixer-upper”.

That’s why as a bachelor you never spend big money on home furnishings because when you get married your wife will want everything new. Also don’t think your going to be able to leave the house wearing crappy clothes anymore.

One woman I know, they aren’t married but yes the guy did change
or maybe he just grew up.

They had dated off and on through their teens and into their twenties.
He constantly cheated on her, never could hold a job. No matter what he did she always took him back, let him live with her while she worked and paid the bills. She’d even give him money and the keys to her car so he could go out while she sat home and waited for him.

None of us could understand it, she is beautiful, smart, has a good job, very sweet personality. She could have done so much better than him but she loves him and was willing to put up with whatever it took to keep him.

All of a sudden he grew up. He got a good job, he stopped cheating, he started acting like a responsible adult.
He’s apologized to a lot of people for hurting/taking advantage of them, and admits to having been a big jerk.

It happens.

Years ago, I was in a relationship that I knew, from the start, wasn’t going to last. There were obvious incompatibilities in our personalities . . . incompatibilities that I knew I was powerless to change. As the relationship grew, there were times that were quite painful for me. But I kept asking the question: “Am I better off in this imperfect relationship . . . as opposed to being alone?” And each time the answer was “Yes.” So I accepted him and quit trying to change him.

That was the trap. If I’d left him, I may have found someone more compatible . . . thankfully, I did find that person, after the other relationship ended. There’s nothing about my current partner that I’d want to change.

My best friend married a man that she never should have dated. She was going to fix him, and had made some progress in getting him to be more responsible towards his children from a previous relationship. But it didn’t last long. They were married for less than three years. Their daughter is 14 and he hasn’t paid any significant child support (or seen her) in almost five years. Real winner, he is.

"Don’t date or marry a man in hopes that you’ll change him"

be careful what you wish for

No, you can’t change someone, but relationships do change people. Good ones, bad ones, whatever. Hopefully if everything goes well you change together, mature together and eventually grow old together. You can change some things - or rather, you can come to a compromise on some things. You can’t change a person fundamentally.

Yeah, but they’re saying things like “I can’t stand Jane! She’s so clingy! Meredith, on the other hand… ah, Meredith! She needs me, you see.” I know, I know, smoke gets in your eyes, most people are very bad at the whole “know yourself” part and even more when hormones are running, but it’s one of those cases of “everybody is seeing the trainwreck except him”.

Good point; I should written the thread to include and apply to both genders.

Has it EVER happened? Yes. Not often, but it has happened. JUST often enough to convince female witnesses that it’s possible, and that they can change their boyfriends.

I don’t say a woman should abandon all hope of changing her man, but I WOULD say to her, “Look at him as he is. ASSUME this is as good as he gets. Could you be happy with him like this?”

If the answer is no, then leave. If the answer is yes, then if he ever DOES change, it will be a pleasant, unexpected bonus.

See, the strange thing is, I’ve observed several cases in which a woman married men they thought she could change. After years of marriage, when the men DIDN’T change, the women tended to be infuriated. They felt BETRAYED! They acted as if the man had promised to change, but gone back on their word. But in reality, the men had never made any such pledge, and were totally confused by their wives’ anger!

To use one hypothetical, if a woman wants kids but her boyfriend says, “I don’t want kids, I will never want kids, I don’t like kids,” she should take him at his word. Yes, there’s a non-zero chance he’ll change some day*, but that’s a lousy chance to take. If she marries him with the intention of changing his mind, and he DOESN’T change his mind, she’s going to be unfairly livid at him for NOT changing!

ASSUME that your man is a finished product before deciding whether to marry him. Don’t marry an introvert and think you can change him into your type of social butterfly. Don’t marry an unambitious guy and think you can spur him to be a CEO.

*I HAVE known a few guys who were certain they never wanted kids, but who turned out to be great dads who adore their kids. It CAN happen- it’s just a bad idea to count on that happening.

I have never observed one spouse successfully changing the other and it seems counter-intuitive to decide to sign up to spend the rest of your life with someone you’d like to be someone else. But if you love someone, your judgment can be clouded.

Also, marrying a person and having kids tends to bring out aspects of people you didn’t know were there. At least it has in my marriage. I can’t say I like many of those unexpected things I’ve learned, but I married the guy for life and I’m sure he’s learned things about me he doesn’t like, too. I think the key is deciding what you can live with. I can live with our differences because even though we disagree, we’re willing to talk through and try to accommodate each other. If that were not true, we would be divorced by now.

I don’t think a person can change in the sense of doing a 180 change, but people do evolve over time and mature and mellow out.

You probably can’t turn a militant atheist religious, but there is a good chance with maturing they will be more open minded or even become agnostic etc.

People do change, but it is change that makes sense from their current point.

From what I have observed, the man who never wants kids waits until his wife is past 40, divorces her, marries a younger woman and then starts a family.