Will he change for me?

I have been dating a guy for about five months and am totally crazy about him. He is smart, funny and a genuinely good man. The only problem is that I feel as if I am the only one who is making any effort. I always go over to his house, call him, etc. He takes an interest in me and in my life but seems unwilling to make any adjustments to his own for me. How do I get him to understand that he needs to put some effort into this relationship for it to work? I don't want to issue an ultimatum, but something has to give. --maggie_e2000

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Sherry Amatenstein

Sherry is the author of The Q&A Dating Book and Love Lessons from Bad Breakups. She has taught dating seminars, appeared as an expert... Read more

Dear maggie:

I'm sure you've heard the one about the lightbulb needing to want to change. Your boyfriend can't (won't) start putting effort into the relationship unless doing so is important to him. He can't change just for you. It has to be for you and for him, or he'll revert back to old habits quicker than it takes to type you-can't-teach-an-old-dog-new-tricks.

However, you don't say whether you've told him of your frustrations, which are obviously close to the boiling point. He might feel that making an effort is worth it if that will make the relationship a happy one. So tell him what you need in a gentle -- not accusatory -- way and see his reaction. Perhaps he's dying to give more but doesn't know whether you can comfortably receive. Then again, he may think things are perfect as they are and will feel threatened by your upsetting the old apple cart. So be prepared.

If he is too set in his ways to change, then you must weigh whether his great qualities (smarts, humor and goodness) outweigh this flaw. In any case, it's time for you to stop being an uber-giver. Perhaps once you stop making the effort, without even realizing what he's doing, he'll start picking up some of the slack.

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