Duke It Out: Can He Change?

[It’s pretty obvious that the average CollegeCandy reader has some very strong opinions. Opinions that she likes to share with everyone on the site. We love a strong woman (unless she happens to be charging at us with her fists raised), so we thought we’d give her a real forum to discuss her thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Every Friday I’ll be featuring a hot topic (like whether size really matters! ) and leaving it up to you, the readers, to duke it out. So, read it and get your debate on in the comments section below!]

You know that friend who just can’t resist the “fixer-upper” guy? He’s either a bad boy who she knows could really be prince charming, or a stoner who could be brilliant if he’d just pull himself out of the beanbag chair get his act together, or a stuffed-shirt who could be a lot of fun if he just had the right girl on his arm to show him how.

Basically, she lives her love life like it’s a rom-com and her personal motto is “I can change him.” We’ve all been there. The question is, does it work? Can men really change? And even if they can, should we really make them?

On a basic level, of course men can change! They’re people and we all evolve as we experience new things. Sometimes it takes somebody a while to understand that their behavior isn’t good for them, but lots of people manage to turn their lives around and reform themselves. And if people can do it, then why shouldn’t we help them? You’d tell your gal pal if you thought that, say, the way she dressed was standing in the way of her getting a job, so why shouldn’t you tell your man that the Star Trek tee with holes at the armpits is no longer allowed to be worn in public? If it’s something more serious, like adjusting his attitude to finally take that bio chem he needs for his major, then as a good GF, of course you should give him the kick in the pants he needs to shape up.

The problem is that, while most people can change, a lot of times their behavior isn’t the real problem. Sure, if you worked hard enough, you might could turn a bad boy into a knight in shining armor, but A) it probably wouldn’t last and B) it wouldn’t really be him. People act the way they do for a reason, it’s their choice, so while you might get that slacker up off the couch, he’s not going to magically become a go-getter. It’s just not his personality. Which brings us to part B. Changing a guy is just that – changing him. Sure a little tweak here and there might be OK, but for some reason a lot of us seem to imagine that we can radically transform men with nothing but the power of our love (and maybe some well placed nagging) which, in my experience, can last for about a week tops. If you go into a relationship picturing the kind of guy you want to make him into, then you’re really just ignoring who a guy is to begin with and focusing on who you wish he was. That’s not really fair to either of you.

What do you girls think? Can you really turn a fixer-upper into Mr. Right? Or will he just go back to his old ways? Is it OK to try and change your guy? Or do you just have to accept what you get, flaws and all?

Duke It Out!



  1. Eric says:

    So this website came linked from the askmen website, and I find it truly fascinating to see things from a woman's perspective a bit, as well as relive my glory days in college a bit (graduated 6 years ago)

    I thought I might be able to provide some unique perspectives about whether men change. The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is not always and not everything.

    As the author has alluded to, yes, life changes, and people change along with it. When I was in college, I was a bit of a party animal. Now I'm a button up corporate type. In college, I didn't really do serious relationships. Now I'm with the woman of my dreams, and planning to get married within the year. In college, I felt a compulsive itch to get out and discover the world, and never settle down. Now I own a home. So yes, to some degree I have changed. My priorities have changed, my living situation has changed, and in short I grew up. In my experience, this is pretty common amongst people my age.

    What doesn't change? Fundamental values. Certainly there are some people who have something happen in life which can change fundamental values, but normally this is either related to hitting rock bottom (and trust me, you don't want to be around when that happens), or sometimes a religious experience. But in general the fundamental building blocks of what makes a person's personality don't change.

    Is your man a slacker? He probably always will be then, and won't enjoy success in the world. Is your guy battling addictions? This is tough to change too (see: rock bottom). Is he kind, generous, motivated? These qualities will probably stick with him throughout life. Does he respect the women in his life? Does he strive to be a better man? These are fundamental values, and what you should look for.

    So when with a man, and evaluating whether he'll change, ask yourself if his undesirable qualities are a result of just the situation of life he's in, or if this is something fundamental about his personality and values.

  2. A says:

    Can they change? Sure, everyone has the ability to change. Should you expect them to change? No. Just like women are sometimes told not to overhaul themselves just to impress their men, men have every right to remain the way they are.

  3. Johnnie says:

    The mere concept of changing someone is so utterly selfish. You think that you have the right to change someone to fit your wishes.

  4. Marsha K says:

    Before you can change your boyfriend (or even yourself) you need to accept who he is 'warts and all. Then you can help him change and grow into who he wants to be. Not accepting your man for who he is means that you may be giving him the message that hes not good enough by trying to change him from the beginning of your relationship. That's a sure fire way to kill all your chances together.

  5. Reems says:

    My current boyfriend used to be a typical misogynistic, beer-chugging frat boy and after letting him hurt me for a year, I gave up. That was when he came back, claiming he’d changed. I gave him a chance and it was true – he’s a wonderful, caring, sweet guy now!

  6. Elle says:

    If there's anything I've learned from a three year relationship that I just recently ended, it's that you can't change people. Yes, you can influence them for better or for worse, but even that influence is temporary. If a person is the way he is, he will not change unless it comes from himself. It's would be a magical thing if any person had that kind of transformative power, but that's just not the way it works. Furthermore, it isn't fair to the other person if you can't accept him for who he is. It's a romantic notion, absolutely, but the reality is that if you can't accept him for who he is now, you're probably not going to feel any different when he continues being that person a few years down the road.

  7. criolle johnny says:

    While you're changing HIM, get that boob job HE wants, dye your hair and for heaven's sake … Q-U-I-T S-M-O-K-I-N-G!

    Something to do with rocks and glass houses.

    If you have to change someone to be with them, run.

    If you have to pretend to be someone other than yourself to be with someone, run.

    If you cannot be yourself, you're nobody. That is YOUR problem, not your partners. If your partner cannot be him/herself around you, that is still YOUR problem. Run. You are not ready for a relationship. Grow up a bit before you hurt somebody else.

  8. marydu says:

    Who cares!!! My boyfriend thinks the same with me. He is eight years older than me, lol. We met online at a nice and free place for younger women and older men, or older women and younger men, to interact with each other. Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

  9. criolle johnny says:

    Who let a PIMP in the chat room?!

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