Anyone who thinks they are just going to meet the man of their dreams ready packaged is being naive. The coming together of two people is bloody hard work, it takes compromise, a willingness to learn and without a doubt it requires to change your attitude.
While you both might enjoy football or eating Italian food there is so much more to building a successful relationship. What if you hate his friends? Or you can’t stand how untidy she is? It takes time to learn to all those annoying habits and traits and you have be patient. If you run away at the first sign of dirty pants on a bedroom floor then you are likely to never have a happy relationship.
At the same time, you can’t force someone to make changes. You can ask them if they would stop doing something because it makes you upset or because it drives you mad when your boyfriend doesn’t use a plate when eating a sandwich (I speak from experience), but asking someone to be more ambitious or to drop certain friends because they are a bad influence just isn’t going to work.
When I met my boyfriend, it was all fun and games, to begin with. We loved to party weekends and weekdays, I was a student but he would take days off work because he was hungover and we barely ever had any money. For the first few months, it was great but once things got serious, it was clear that a lot had to change. He had dreadful friends that just used him, he had hardly any get-up-and-go and the pub was the centre of his life. But I saw something in him.
What it was that I saw in him, I couldn’t tell you but I knew if we were to carry on being together things had to change. He is not the kind of guy to do what is expected or to be pushed into doing something so I knew I had to tread lightly and most of the time, let him see things on his own.
Game playing would get me nowhere. I would tell him how things made me feel or I would suggest we went out and did things on the weekend to distract him from wanting to sit in the pub for 10 hours straight, but this was me trying to show him a better way. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard and we have overcome many obstacles but if I would have walked away at the first sign, or even the ninth sign, of things getting difficult then I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now.
Talk about it
That’s not to say you should put up with someone’s shit. Have enough self-worth to know when you deserve better and deal with the situation accordingly. But you also need to try and understand where they are coming from and why they are behaving in a certain way. For example, I was really sick and was off work. I had spent the whole day in bed and when my partner got home he said his friend was coming round in a bit.
I was so insulted. I sat there in my PJs with snot dribbling out my nose feeling so sorry for myself and he was letting his friend come round. To him it was normal, it didn’t matter that I was curled up in bed, his friend said he wanted to pay a visit and who was I to tell him no?
However, both my boyfriend and I have had very different upbringings. My parents had a very closed door policy, I would have to ask to have friends over and quite often it was a no and if someone, say a family member, used to come visit it would be an event. They would call to announce they were coming, mum would frantically run around tidying up and I would be expected to get dressed and sit in the living room and join the conversation.
My boyfriend was brought up completely differently. His house had an open door policy and anyone was welcome at any point. Even if they were some mate that he had just made at the pub. So in this situation, I thought he was being unreasonable and he thought I was being unreasonable. We used to get in this situation a lot. But it’s all about communication and eventually, I got better at understanding where he was coming from and he got better at understanding that you don’t invite your mates round when your girlfriend is ill in bed.
If I would have just shouted and screamed or demanded that he didn’t do it, he would have done it more or would have just gone out and not come home all night. By talking it out and understanding each person’s point of view, we both made a change to better our relationship.
Change your attitude
Relationships are hard work but the more you push someone to make changes, whether that be considering your feeling more or running off to the pub four times a week, the more likely they are to resent you. Yet, striking the balance of knowing when someone is never going to change is difficult. Even if something drives you mad you or really upsets you, the change has to come from within your partner and he has to want it too. Just change your attitude and give it some time.
It took me ages to come to terms with the fact that Cinderella’s fairytale ending stopped at them falling in love. The story never went on to tell of the time that Prince Charming got really drunk and embarrassed Cinderella in front of the palace staff, or the doubts Cinderella had two years in because she felt unappreciated. In fact, we don’t even really know if they lasted two years. Not every fairytale ends with a happy ever after, in real life, it ends with hard work, devotion and a hell of a lot of compromising.