Lesson 51: You cant make another person change.

Published 5:32 pm Monday, December 7, 2009

Dont spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger

You already know this, right? Lets review anyway.

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I know he drinks too much, and he doesnt pay attention to me. And he tends to be irresponsible. But I just know that once we get married, my love can change all that.

Dont kid yourself. If theres one thing we have clearly established by now, it is that each individual makes his or her own changes. We may want to change to please someone else, but we actually do it only to please ourselves.

Every high school and college has its share of on-again, off-again couples that are clearly not meant for each other, but for some reason keep getting back together. Anyone with any sense can see that they are incompatible, but each seems to live under the delusion that, with a little tweaking, their partner will be just perfect.

While this type of soap opera can be a source of some entertainment for observers, its bad business for the participants. They fool themselves into thinking that everything will work out one day, but the fairy tale almost never has a happy ending.

When youre a young person in love, you desperately want the relationship to work out. What too many people never understand is that, unique as you are, there are many people out there with whom you can be happy. It doesnt make sense to stay in a rocky relationship, especially if the problems go beyond arguing and hurt feelings.

These are some examples: Someone who is abusive either physically or emotionally is extremely unlikely to stop, no matter how much remorse they feel after an incident. A cheating boyfriend or girlfriend is likely to become a cheating spouse. Alcoholics can fight their way out of addiction, but only when they truly recognize their problem and take action themselves they cant do it for someone else.

No one no one can fundamentally change just because another person wants them to. It is not humanly possible. If you find yourself in this situation, face the hard facts. Cut your losses and move on. Being alone is always preferable to being in a bad relationship. Anyone who doesnt understand that has a big problem of their own.

Excerpted from The Graduates Book of Practical Wisdom: 99 Lessons They Cant Teach in School by C. Andrew Millard, published by Morgan James Publishing, available in bookstores and online. &opy; 2008 by C. Andrew Millard; all rights reserved. For more information visit www.wisegraduate.com.~ Advice for the Young written by Andy Millard