This is probably the most common question here (other than “how do I look”). Women choose insensitive, inconsiderate partners, expecting them to change. Sometimes they claim he wasn’t insensitive or inconsiderate at the start, but changed. Pressuring anyone to change will only result in temporary and/or conditional changes, if you see any change at all.
Before you choose to commit to anyone, do your research. Base your decision on the total package being offered, not bits and pieces. His size or cute features won’t hold a relationship together when the newness wears off.
What were his previous patterns? How did he deal with stress or disappointment? Did he tend to overreact in any situation? Seek others who knew him to share this information with you. What consistent changes has he made since discovering his dysfunctional patterns? Ask him to share what he’s learned as a result of previous experiences. From his perspective, what changes did he make, and what have been the results? Was he focusing on judging and changing himself or judging and changing others? When people focus primarily on changes others should make, pass on the opportunity, as you’ll never like the results.
Red flags don’t necessarily doom a relationship. If we go in with our eyes wide open, we know what might trigger past patterns. Let’s say a person drank due to stress in the past. That person may be fine when not stressed, but we don’t want to assume the person will never experience stress again. Sometimes women will legitimize previous behaviors (Yes, he did beat his ex-wife in the past, but she was a bitch and deserved it. I’m not like his ex-wife, so he won’t beat me.). Let’s say your partner did drink due to stress in the past but has replaced that pattern with a more effective stress management pattern. When you observe stress building in his life, you can be a supportive partner by discussing it (not sweeping it under the rug, ignoring it and hoping it goes away). Say, “I know you’ve replaced your old stress drinking pattern with working out at the gym, but I notice stress building in your life and want to reassure you I’m here as your partner to help you get through it. Working together, we can overcome any challenge.” Reassure him all his support systems remain in effect. Being aware, realistic and staying on top of things can increase the likelihood of a positive result.
Once you’re aware of previous patterns, it becomes easier to determine whether someone is giving you a bait and switch pattern… giving you what he believes you want to see in order to hook you. Bait and switch patterns tend to run out of bait fairly quickly. If he wasn’t looking to just hook you, he may have been doing this conditionally. In other words, he was looking for something in return (response, reciprocation or other reward), even if he never communicated those expectations. If he feels he’s not going to get what he’s seeking, he’ll back off and give no more than he receives from you. No one is entitled to handouts, so don’t pressure him to return to providing what you believe to be your entitlement.
The key to any healthy relationship is clear, open, honest communication. If you’ve never been taught communication (and just rely on copying the dysfunctional patterns you view around you), find a professional who is qualified to teach these basic skills. Communication isn’t difficult… unless you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t assume talking is the same as communicating. Talking is about sharing facts and figures, whereas communication is about gaining deeper understanding and creating depth. It’s about seeing things through the other person’s eyes, not insisting on being heard. Understand it is impossible to argue and communicate at the same time. Choose which one will take you where you want to go. Effective communication allows people to work as a team to find solutions that work well for all involved.
Coming to this site and venting about a partner’s dysfunctional patterns will never move you forward. No one here can give you the magic answer that will transform your toad into the prince he’s supposed to be. Focus only on what’s within your control, and that means your choices, not your belief of what others should do. If something doesn’t feel right for you, learn what you can do to influence positive movement, but never revert to controlling others if the other isn’t interested in being influenced. Once you realize you took on a bad investment, cut your losses and move on. Investing more will only lead to greater loss in the future. Be effective role models for your kids rather than teach them they can expect this type of behavior from a partner as they get older. You either have the ability or have the ability to acquire the ability, so make the most of your life and be happy and fulfilled.