Why Won’t My Boyfriend Change?

Hi Friends,

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This Week’s Question:  I have been in a dating relationship for almost 3 years. My boyfriend and I are in our 30’s and our relationship is always on and off due to my boyfriend’s talking, texting, e-mailing other women. He has 2 social networking accounts and when I get the chance to see what he has been up to, it’s usually not good.

He is handsome, funny, charming and loving, and I guess you can say has a roving eye. He is a very good when he is with me…and we are almost always together. We have fun and do family activities and enjoy each other’s company. We don’t live together and we don’t have any children together. He has one daughter and I have 4 teens from my husband who passed away 5 years ago.

My problem is I cannot handle him talking with other women. It makes me so insecure and I am constantly watching to see what he is doing. His behavior hurts me and I have anxiety attacks after seeing him talk to these women. Some are high school girlfriends, ex’s and crushes. He doesn’t tell me he talks to them, he does it when I’m not around or he goes online whenever we have an argument, then he tells these women that I’m jealous and insecure. He shouldn’t be telling anyone my business right?

I love him very much but I feel I have no self-esteem. I am constantly comparing myself to these other women. We have been broken up for about a month and I wonder if I should give him another chance? I have told him what bothers me and if he just would stop doing it our life would be good. But he doesn’t seem to take my feelings into consideration.

As I am reading what I am writing, I believe I know the answer to this question. I am strong in faith and believe in God and prayer. I pray for him to change, but when I see him doing it again, it discourages me and I stop praying. I am so confused. I don’t know what to do anymore. Part of me wants him back but the other part says I deserve respect and deserve a lot better. Please, any feedback you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Writing things down or speaking them out loud is a great clarifier. As you a noticed when you were writing out your concerns and question, deep down you already knew the answer to your dilemma. You say that you love this man but you realize that he is not a good candidate for a long-term relationship. After almost 3 years of dating, it doesn’t sound like he wants to commit himself fully to you. He wants to be free to flirt with other women and text, e-mail and talk with them as he desires. The problem I see is that he isn’t being honest with you about his level of commitment to you, or that you’re not hearing him.

So what I want you to do is stop and ask yourself two questions: First, has he told you again and again that he’s not ready to have a serious long term committed relationship with you? Perhaps he tells you that he wants to “go out” and “have fun” but not exclusively? Have you ignored what he’s told you, hoping and praying that somehow he would change his mind and stop looking at other women and flirting? Then when you discover that he’s been doing those things, you compare yourself with these other women and feel more and more anxious, insecure and jealous?

If this is what’s going on, I think you know that it’s not a matter of giving him another chance. Instead you will need to hear what he is able to give you and then decide whether or not you want to accept that level of relationship. It sounds to me like you are ready for a more committed relationship but he may not be. If that’s true it’s best that you let go. He’s made it clear to you that he’s not ready to commit and his behavior continues to hurt you deeply.

You say you have a strong faith but I wonder if this man has become too central to your well-being as a person. From what you describe, you have allowed your self-esteem and emotional well-being to be totally dependent on him. That is a very slippery and dangerous slope for any person. Your need for security and love will never be fully met by another human being but only by God. When we ask another human being to give us what only God can give us, we’ve put him or her in the god position in our lives, making him/her an idol.

I’d encourage you to take the time now to strengthen your own relationship with God so that you become a God-centered woman instead of a man-centered woman. This will help you even if you answered no to the first question and yes to this next one.

The second question I want you to ask yourself is: Does he say one thing to your face like “I want to be in a committed relationship with you,” but then he behaves very differently when you’re not together or you’re not watching him?

If that’s the case, then you still may have put him in the god position in your life but you also have a different problem.

It’s crucial that you not confuse charm and charisma with good character. You say that he is a lot of fun to be with and treats you well in some ways but you’re also telling me that he hasn’t been truthful with you, he’s hiding what he’s doing and he’s been inconsiderate of your feelings He wants you in his life but he minimizes the pain he causes you. In addition, when you confront him on his actions, he flips things around so that the problem becomes your jealousy and insecurity instead of his deceit and flirtatious behaviors.

It’s important that you ask yourself why you would continue to pursue a relationship with someone who cannot be faithful to you, isn’t honest, and doesn’t care about how he hurts your feelings. Is it that you’re afraid to be alone? Or is it that you’re not sure you will be treated any better by someone else?

Do you really want to be a detective or policeman over his phone and internet use? If you choose to do that, how will that make you feel more secure or loved? When we start trying to control another person’s actions, it usually results in the other person becoming sneakier and more clever at hiding things, not more loving and honest.

Your problem as I see it is that you don’t like your boyfriend’s deceit and flirtatious behavior. You don’t like feeling insecure around him and you don’t like that he doesn’t seem to value you enough to change his behaviors. You are discouraged that your prayers haven’t changed him yet but have you considered that perhaps God might be trying to change you instead so that you respect yourself enough to not allow yourself to continue to be treated in this way and that you not marry this kind of person?

I’d love to hear how you worked this through and what the results were. Please share your journey with the rest of us. God Bless.



  1. anonymous on November 26, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Leslie:
    I discovered your site recently from reading one of your books, purchased at a local Christian bookstore. It is a blessing to receive all this biblical counsel and have a place to check reality in our lives. Thank you!

    I have been married for 7 years to a man who did exactly the same kind of thing the guy in this story did (“Why won’t my boyfriend change?”, posted Sept 17, 2012). Flirting and continually communicating in inappropriate ways with other women. The whole story describes my own exactly, except for the fact that my husband, then fiancé, was very commited to me, and only faltered in his commitment when he saw that I could not “accept” what he considered as totally innocent and harmless. I still went ahead and married him, and I have regretted with all the strength of my whole being.

    After 8 years of me being the detective/police, confrontations, total insensitivity on his part, “reconciling” and then acting like nothing has happened while nothing changed; I have had enough. My body and my mind are depressed, exhausted, ill; because on top of the flirting/emotional unfaithfulness other problems unfolded: marital indifference, insensitivity/emotional abuse, severe communication/conflict resolution problems, extreme and continual arguing about every and any aspect of our married life, etc., etc. The worst problem of all is simply that he is very self-centered, and has a general attitude that I have disappointed him, I am not what he hoped and I never measure up no matter how hard I try.

    I am only waking up to these serious problems and realizing that basically I was not in any way mature (yet old enough), emotionally or spiritually healthy enough to marry when I did. I come from a very abusive, dysfunctional, alcoholic home; my self-respect/esteem was destroyed and I was desperate for somebody to love me. He made me feel loved and appreciated and I fell for it. Now he makes me feel like an object that he uses for whatever he can get from me.

    I have been to counseling at different times. He encourages me to go because, in his words, I “have major problems that need to be fixed before we can work out any marital issues”, contrary to him who has “minor things like any common person” (yet the more I read, learn and counsel on this subject, the more I realized he really has major problems also rooted in childhood, and some sort of unhealthy relationship with God).

    Vulnerability/openness on my part has only led to him holding onto my hurts and traumas as evidence of how messed up I am, and he doesn’t “want to deal with those things”. He has directly called me “useless”, and told me that now that(while in counseling), I have confronted him about issues that he is admitting to be real, he doesn’t know if I am “worth the effort” to work through those issues. He says that he’s not sure how much value someone so “dysfunctional, disorganized, depressed, etc. etc” can have as a “suitable helpmeet” in his life.

    What do I do? Even though he seems more and more open to work thru the issues, he does not seem to realize how harmful his attitude has been in our relationship. Sooner or later, he blames our problems on my personal problems. He keeps attempting to try the same “tips and secrets” from general books on marriage that have not worked in 8 years; partly because he tries once or twice and expects our lives to be changed instantly, and so gives up trying(and partly because we are beyong the basics of marriage). I believe we are not beyond repair, but we are into the miracle zone now, where only God can save us by changing us both into something different from who we are. We both do not accept each other as we are, because we both feel that the other is unacceptable. I am starting to think that we were really absolutely sick, dysfunctional and incompatible from the beginning; and that we both need individual counseling before there is any hope of working things out as a couple. Maybe indefinite separation is what we need?

    If I ever truly loved him (idolized rather), I am not there anymore. We are like roommates in our home, and I have decided that I will never again give him sex in hopes of receiving his true love and cherishing. Now he’s starting to be very harsh, and strict with our preschooler boy and I sense that his little growing self esteem and security may be hurt as well.

    I simply do not have feelings of love or respect for him anymore, and I see no real evidence of a change for the better. I want to please God (and my church), but I cannot live in denial and abuse anymore. I want my son to grow up with a father, but not an unhealthy one. My heart is torn with this dilemma.

    I apologize for the length of this. You may summarize it and shorten it if you wish, and I hope you are able to give some insight. God bless!

  2. jenn on July 23, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Just interested in this topic and comments…actually going thru the breakup steps with this same type of person…are these men narssitic in your opinion?..it seems to be a common pattern ive researched…

  3. linny on September 17, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I felt as if someone was telling large parts of my story. a dozen years and most days have kicked myself for marrying my husband. I knew of his porn habits, but thought once married and he had a real woman (he was a virgin when we married) things would be different. besides, he’s a Chrisitan and educated about the affects of this trash, right? WRONG! he blames me for his addiction–that started in childhood. first caught him on the computer a month into our married life. even thought I would watch with him (I watched it occasionally in my late 20’s early 30’s). he was too embarrassed and felt it wasn’t right, so he threw the tapes out. never stopped with the private sessions on the computer though. I have gained weight (2 babies, 4 pregnancies, several surgeries, the death of our youngest child due to negligence on the part of a caregiver and frankly not caring about myself–he didn’t, so why should I?) been prone to angry outbursts (not so lovely or Godly, I admit) but I refuse to take the blame for his sin. he even had Bible verses taped onto the screen to deter him from going on sites. he has proven to be impotent–which he blames me for as well–and we even tried to conceive our first child as porn was playing behind me on the computer.. the whole time tears were flowing from my eyes, but he was so busy with watching he didn’t notice. I have spent countless times during the sex act praying to God that my husband keep his erection so I may find favor with the Lord for enduring everything and conceive a child. I am His child, the mother of my husband’s children. if just those facts are not enough for my husband to love me, come close to me emotionally, stop being selfish than nothing will be (and I have tried a lot to grab his attention–dressing and acting like a whore in the bedroom, trying to keep the perfect house, being the praiser/adorer/ego stroker, etc) if you are not married and have a boyfriend/fiancé with this addiction consider not spending another day in the relationship. you can not change him, only God can and you don’t want to be on this destructive road with him. when he has overcome, then he has the right to seek you as a girlfriend/wife. please,please save yourself some heartache.

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