Note: If you haven’t started dating your ex yet, stop reading. You have no right to even attempt to change them in any aspect at this point. Whenever you try to do so, you’re directly violating their personal boundaries. It’s immoral and plain disgusting.
On the other hand, if you have already begun dating your ex or have even rekindled your relationship, continue reading. You could do a few things to facilitate change in them, but it’s probably not what you think.
When I was still with my ex, I wanted her to love me in a quite unrealistic way. I’m talking constant phone calls, “I love you messages,” and affection showers every day. I wanted us to have the same interests, values, beliefs, everything! And I forced her to change to that ideal identity I had in mind for her.
Spoiler alert: Things didn’t end well.
Looking back, I can see I’ve always tried to change my exes. Sometimes slowly and politely, and other times hurriedly and carelessly.
In both cases (and everything in between), my approach was steeped in neediness. I constantly looked desperate and made my exes feel as they were not good enough for me.
No wonder rejections came hurling down at the speed of sound, giving me a proverbial bitchslap after proverbial bitchslap until all the minor rejections grew so large they turned into a breakup.
If only they would change, I thought to myself.
If only my ex could work on reaching my delusional expectations. If only they could put in the same amount of effort that I’m putting into our relationship. If only they could have more sex with me. If only they weren’t so stubborn. If only they could reach out more. If only they could send me more messages. If only they showed me more affection. If only they hadn’t dumped me. If only they wanted me back.
If only. If only. If only.
“If only” are infamous words that we often append to thoughts right before we try to change our ex.
Some people go about changing them by giving them a desperate lecture on why they should change their ways. Some get emotional and start crying and pleading and begging them to change. Others attempt to change them through manipulation and deceit.
But here’s the catch: even if you do succeed in changing your ex through any of those means, that change will never be permanent because your ex didn’t change for themselves — they’ve done it so you could finally shut the fuck up.
For them to truly change, they must feel as their change came from within — that they chose it, and they control it. Otherwise, it loses all its effect, and they probably lose a significant portion of attraction for you.
So how does one facilitate change in their ex if they can’t make or force them to change? Well, by educating, inspiring, and challenging them.
Inspiring Your Ex To Change
To inspire your ex to do better in a specific area of their life translates to becoming skilled in that area yourself. Your proficiency may act as inspiration for them.
However, that shouldn’t be your core intention; inspiring them to change should be exclusively a side product of your effort and willingness to become better in the area of your choosing.
If you want your ex to start cleaning the dishes after their meals, for example, don’t criticize or nag them about it. Grab the dishes yourself, start scrubbing them, and ask them to join you.
If you want them to get in shape, get in shape first, then let them gaze upon your gains and chiseled abs or tight ass and hope that it motivates them to start exercising themselves.
If you want them to do better at their job, get better and more serious about your career, and let your exceptional results or hard work be a potential motivator for them.
The whole concept of inspiring your ex to change can be summed up in one phrase: lead by example.
Educating Your Ex To Change
I don’t like being a smart ass, but sometimes it’s worth educating people about the consequences of their actions.
This doesn’t mean you shove textbooks up your ex’s ass and pray that they pull them out and start reading. It means expressing how you feel about a particular decision they made and/or explaining your internal experiences in regards to their behavior.
For example, if I started dating one of my exes and I got frustrated by their lack of tidiness, I could say, “My back hurts from picking up your clothes from the floor this morning. Can you be so kind as to pick them up next time? I feel bad about them laying around my apartment.”
Or, when it comes to your ex’s emotional issues, you could say, “You know I love you and want to make this work between us, but your neurotic behavior makes me feel hurt, and they are hurting you as well. I can see that. Can we please see someone to help us deal with this problem, maybe a couple counselor?”
Challenging Your Ex To Change
Instead of telling your ex that they have a problem requiring their attention, ask them about it and let them notice it themselves.
So instead of saying, “You have to get out more and get active to make yourself feel better,” you could ask, “Why don’t you take a walk around town to loosen up? Maybe that will help you feel less lethargic? You can even add, “I can also join you if you want.”
(Remember: leading by example!)
Or instead of saying, “Assert some boundaries for once and tell your boss that your coworker is taking all the credit for the projects you’ve singlehandedly done,” you could ask, “Don’t you think your boss deserves to know that you’re the one to thank for all those projects?” Do your coworker’s actions seem fair to you? Do you genuinely believe that they deserve all this credit for something you’ve spent days/weeks/months working on?”
Whatever method of facilitating change in your ex you deploy, the fundamental truth still stands: you can’t — nor should you attempt to — force them to change.
The true magic begins when you accept your ex fully — their good, bad, light and dark, order and chaos. It’s not finding the perfect partner that makes a relationship it fulfilling. It’s finding one whose flaws you can accept and live with that makes it fulfilling.
But if that’s impossible, there’s no shame in ending your reconciliation attempts and letting your ex go — for good. As I always say: always be willing to walk away.
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