Dating Mistakes: I Can Change Him

As featured on the Good Women Project.

She is 42. She has 6 children. She is recently divorced.

“What happened?” I asked. Because seriously, how do you go from “Let’s have ½ a dozen kids together” to “I hate your guts and want out”?

“Well…” she paused, “I married him under the classic assumption that my love would change him. The issues in dating were heightened in marriage.”

All the guys I’d dated flashed through my mind. And all the wasted years I’ve spent trying to CHANGE men to be who I wanted them to be.

In high school, his name was Matt. He wasn’t a Christian and I wanted to change him into a Christian. No matter how hard I prayed and begged and talked about my faith – nothing changed. 10 years later, I still don’t know if he knows Christ.

Freshman year of college, his name was John. He had an ego problem and a drinking problem. He also wasn’t a Christian. So I foolishly believed my love would help him stop drinking and humble him. It didn’t.

The next year, his name was Brandon. I made a commitment to only date someone if they checked the “I’m a Christian” box and we began a relationship just hours after I shared Christ with him. Yikes. He had a drinking problem and some violence issues, neither of which were solved by my efforts to change him or his supposed conversion.

Six months after my relationship with new convert ended, I invested my ‘change efforts’ onto a football player named David. He confessed desperate love for me and I begged him to stop sleeping around. I called God in to help, and I just knew my love, our love, would change his sex addiction. He would take me out to dinner and, because I was “a prude”, would call up someone else to spend the night with. To this day, he is still living the same life in a different city with different women. His love for me didn’t change anything—long term, at least.

Junior year. I was on top of things. Standing strong. President of Campus Crusade and leading two Bible studies. Did I wait for the right guy to come along? I really wish the answer was ‘yes.’ Instead, I started a relationship with a drug dealer. The first order of business was to change his salvation status [take him to church]; the second, his drug problem. Because Jesus can save anyone, right? And I was doing the right thing by taking him to church? Wrong. The Bible warns us not to become entangled with non-believers. Take them to church? Great! Share Christ? Amazing! But doing these things with our own agenda, while we date them? No. It is against God’s will. It is wrong, and it is hypocritical.

And I could name others. But do you know what happened with almost every guy I prayed incessantly for and tried to change? They didn’t change. At least while I was dating them.

Yes, some are different people today than they were five years ago. One eventually accepted Christ. But the truth is I didn’t change any of them, and I wasted so many years of my life. It was a trust issue—I didn’t feel like I could trust God completely with my future husband. So during long periods of waiting and moments of weakness, I would twist God’s will into allowing me to date nonbelievers, alcoholics, drug dealers…guys I clearly wasn’t supposed to be dating.

Do you have a hard time trusting God with your future husband?

What do I wish someone would have told me? God is in the business of changing and redeeming men’s hearts. You aren’t.

So stop smothering him with your prayers and church outings and leading conversations. Get out of the way. Let God work. If you’re supposed to be together, don’t you think the Creator of the Universe can change his heart, his addictions, his salvation status without your help?

2 thoughts on “Dating Mistakes: I Can Change Him

  1. Pingback: All the Single Ladies: Where have all the men gone? |

  2. Dear Ruthie,

    The last 6 posts have been things I was thinking of the exact day you posted them. Have you been reading my mind? Haha. But seriously, what great timing. Thanks for writing!

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