We all like to think that we’ll get our guys to give up their annoying habits (I’m still waiting for mine to realize that empty milk cartons go in the garbage, not the sink), but the truth is, it’s unwise to think you can make someone change.

Why bad habits are so tough to break
“Most of us don’t change anything in our lives unless there is some huge threat involved,” says Mary Jo Fay, author of When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong. “How many of us will lose 10 pounds or quit smoking just because someone asks us to? Unless we see the value of changing something ourselves, no amount of someone else nagging us to do so is realistic.”

“The longer the man has had a certain habit, the harder it is for him to break it — especially if it has rewarded him with some sort of satisfaction in the past, such as making him feel in control or more independent,” says psychiatrist Carole Lieberman, author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets. Of course, certain habits are more emotionally ingrained (and thus harder to break) than others. And while there are no absolutes — what’s impossible to change in one man might be easily changed in another — here are some unscientific examples of highly annoying bad habits that are hard to alter.
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The habits you should probably learn to live with...
Maybe you’ll want to save yourself the energy and aggravation and not even try when it comes to these these four issues:

Habit #1: Leaving the toilet seat up
“Look at it from a perspective of equality,” says Susanne M. Alexander, a relationship coach and president of Marriage Transformation LLC. “Perhaps he has grounds for fussing if you don’t leave the toilet seat up for him!” It’s hard to make a compelling argument for this one, so let’s move on.

Habit #2: Drooling over the Victoria’s Secret catalogue in front of you
“That’s one habit women are going to have a hard time breaking their men of,” says Joe Gumm, an ESPN radio sportscaster and author of Romancing Mommy: 150 Ways to Enhance Your Marriage from Birth and Beyond. If this is a sticking point in your relationship, Gumm advises either keeping it out of your house or telling your man that his habit makes you uncomfortable and upset. Acknowledge that it may seem like a small thing to him, but it makes a big impact on your mental state.

Habit #3: Driving like a maniac everywhere
“Once you’ve had a decade (or two, or four) of driving a certain way, it’s hard to change,” says Alexander. “You can insist on driving yourself — even if that means driving separately, to hammer home your point — and use ‘I’ statements to let him know how you feel, like: ‘When you drive 20 miles an hour over the speed limit, I feel scared and unsafe.’ It’s hard to argue with that kind of direct statement,” she emphasizes.

Habit #4: His inability to focus on anything else (i.e., you) when a game is on
You probably can’t compete with his favorite team and SportsCenter, so find something else to do for a few hours. “My husband, Matt, zones out whenever basketball is on,” says Jennifer Jeanne Patterson, author of 52 Fights: A Newlywed’s Confession. “He makes one of those gas-station pizzas, opens a soda and spends two hours yelling at the TV. Our dog actually gets up and leaves the room! And he ignores me. At first, I struggled to get him to turn the game off. But after a few arguments, I realized that he had a right to choose how he wanted to spend his free time. Now when our dog leaves the room, I get up and follow her — and we go on a nice, long walk outdoors together.”

Three annoying things you can get him to work on

Breakable Bad Habit #1: Displaying obnoxious behavior at the table
How to get him to stop: By asking very, very nicely — and pointing out that bad manners can also be a career hindrance. “He’ll be more attractive and marketable professionally if he doesn’t hold his fork like a shovel, slurp his soup and belch at the table,” says Sandra Beckwith, a professional speaker who talks about the lighter side of gender differences. “Most men aren’t attached to their bad table manners — it’s just all they know. They’ll be willing to learn how to improve.” Alexa Gumm curbed her husband Joe’s annoying habit of using his sportscaster voice indoors not by shushing him, “which he told me made him feel like he was in grade school,” but by finding a nicer way to ask him to lower his voice. “Now I say, ‘Babe, I enjoy listening to you, but the people next to us might be trying to have a romantic dinner,’” she explains.

Habit #2: Wearing his favorite ratty T-shirt to any and all social events
How to get him to stop: “Most guys aren’t very invested in the way they dress,” Beckwith says. If you hate his sartorial style, Beckwith offers this advice: “When he wears a loathsome garment, look at him dreamily and say, ‘I love when you wear that shirt. It reminds me of an old boyfriend.’ When he wears something more in line with what you’re looking for, let him know how appealing that garment is by becoming more amorous. He’s smart enough to know that you feeling amorous toward him is better than mooning over an ex-love. Pretty soon, the ratty look will be history.”

Habit #3: Leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen sink (and other housework issues)
How to get him to stop: Avoid doing his chores for him. When Karen Seaman and her boyfriend moved in together, “He let the dishes sit for days,” she says. “So I stopped doing them before he would notice they were there and made a point of saying, ‘Eewww, the dishes smell. They really need to be cleaned.’” Her ploy paid off: “Lately, he has been doing the dishes without me saying anything. And now he thinks I’m the lazy one because he’s ‘always’ doing the dishes. Amazing!”

Bonus tip: Offer to try breaking one of your bad habits each time he breaks one of his. “This allows your guy to still feel like a man,” says Lieberman. “The very idea of giving up a habit to please a woman can be a difficult piece of cheese for a man to swallow.” So support his efforts by joining in on the course-correction plan and, say, quit cluttering up the bathroom sink with all your skin creams. He’ll appreciate your efforts to change as much as you appreciate his, and your relationship will grow closer from all the honest communication.

Erika Rasmusson Janes is a New York-based writer.