5 Things He’ll Change—and 5 He Won’t

No matter how much your guy loves you, certain parts of his life are set in stone—and some aren’t. Here’s how to tell one from the other.

By Dustin Goot

n a Hallmark world, we would love the people we date exactly as they are. But let’s be honest, there’s always some stupid joke you wish they didn’t make or an aversion to dish-washing that drives you up the wall. There’s always something. As a guy who’s been encouraged to change in many ways by many women, allow me to present the male perspective on what’s negotiable and what isn’t. To eliminate personal bias, I’ve also polled an extended circle of male friends and associates. Here’s where we stand on all of your remodeling efforts.

5 things he’ll change...
In my informal survey, this is the trait guys were most willing to alter. Apparently, we see ourselves as unruly boors—and secretly hope to be tamed by the woman we love. So,
We see ourselves as unruly boors—and secretly hope to be tamed.
feel free to be assertive on any etiquette-related matters. And if a guy seems rough around the edges at social events, know that he’s fixable.

Guys are willing to change their style, but it’s a touchier subject than you might think. Bear in mind that he’s dressing and growing his facial hair the way he does because he likes it. Don’t expect him to submit to a complete makeover in a week. While encouraging change, positive suggestions are much more effective than Joan Rivers-style put-downs. Bottom line: He’s willing to be influenced because he wants you to like how he looks.

Cultural horizons
If it seems that all your man does is veg out and watch sports, don’t fret. Guys are surprisingly amenable to trying new entertainment options and finding common ground. Many actually want to broaden their horizons and are happy for a little guidance. As one respondent confided, “I know I watch too much TV. If she can provide other options that are more fun, that’s great.”

Cleaning habits
A lot of guys are slobs. They know they’re slobs. And in the back of their minds, they also know this is probably unacceptable to any desirable woman. Don’t be afraid to tell him he’s disgusting (not too harshly…) and needs to shape up. He’d almost be surprised if you didn’t.

Sex skills
Whatever your guy is doing is probably some combination of what previous girlfriends liked. Even if he claims he prefers one position or style, what he wants more than anything is to please you. Steer him toward what turns you on and you won’t hear a peep of protest.

...And 5 things he won’t...
Guys’ nights out
No matter how immature and obnoxious they are, his friends are a pretty sacred area. You should learn to accept his inner circle because those people aren’t going anywhere. A common girlfriend worry is the crazy single friend thought to be a “bad influence.” But the friend isn’t the problem.
What he wants more than anything is to please you.
If you think your guy is vulnerable to doing something dumb that’ll get him arrested or being led astray in other ways, then it’s time to move past your honey. Otherwise, letting him blow off steam with the boys will actually make him less restless with you.

Handling of money
Money issues are a well-known relationship-killer. Don’t put yourself in a position for this heartbreak. It’s one thing if you’re with a twenty-something who doesn’t save much; that will change in time. But if you and your guy have radically different attitudes toward money — how much you need to live “comfortably,” what you should spend it on — you’re not going to reach much compromise over time.

A guy’s personal interests are a large part of his identity. If they really bother you, it begs the question of whether you’re with the right person. What is negotiable is the amount of time a guy spends immersed in these activities. It is reasonable to ask for a couple of Sundays off from football or fewer hours spent in his taxidermy lab. But when the big playoff day arrives, just plan to pursue your own interests (or get together with your friends) instead.

Communication style
This is a frustrating issue because it seems like such a reasonable area in which to ask for compromise, but most guys can’t do it. It’s not for lack of trying; communication is just something that’s ingrained. As a personal example, I dated a woman we’ll call Jodi. Whenever I got annoyed with her, I snapped her name in what she called “the Jodi voice.” She asked me to banish the Jodi voice, and I wanted to, but any time I was frustrated with her it sprang back. However you’re interacting with someone after two or three months is about how it will remain.

Health habits
As atrocious as they may be, a guy’s diet and exercise habits likely won’t change much after you meet him. If anything, they will get worse because he doesn’t have to be in great shape to troll for dates anymore. Fundamentally, a guy is either active or he isn’t, and you should discern pretty quickly where yours falls. Food-wise, you can certainly encourage healthier eating — or, better yet, cook for him — but stern warnings from a doctor are pretty much all that will change him on this score.

Dustin Goot is a freelance writer based in New York City. He has also written on dating and relationships for Wired and Time Out New York.
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