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By Nina Atwood
Before you dedicate yourself to changing a man, take a look at these four types of unchangeable men. Chances are, the tiger you want to run through your “love of a good woman” rehab has no chance of ever changing his stripes.
There are four general categories of dating pain that you may encounter from different types of men. One is a potential salvageable, one is potentially dangerous, and two are projects that you could spend a lifetime on and get nowhere.
Here’s the difference.
The Commitment Phobe
This is the guy who can’t comprehend settling down, but that doesn’t stop him from dating. He’s wired this way—commitment is PERMANENT and FOREVER, and you can NEVER get out of it. He can’t commit because what if he makes a mistake? This guy can’t reconcile this in his mind so he gets involved, tries to settle down, but becomes increasingly fearful and anxious as the relationship progresses. When he can’t stand it anymore, he breaks up in order to relieve his anxiety.
You can spot him by ferreting out his relationship history wherein you will see a very long line of 1-to-3-year relationships that he always exits. Usually a commitment phobe changes only when he reaches a point of suffering that drives him into therapy, so you might be able to influence him by breaking up before he does. But that’s a long shot, one that’s painful for you, and highly risky emotionally.
It’s best to move on and search for someone who is commitment ready.
This is the guy who always leaves you hanging—he cancels dates at the last minute, constantly changes his mind about what he wants, and runs hot and cold. One day he’ll text you 10 times and then nothing for a week.
The flake is usually unstable in other areas of life—job, career, friendships and even family. He lacks a clear sense of self, and he doesn’t know who he really is or what he wants out of life or relationships. He blows with the wind and, depending on his mood, you will hear from him or maybe not.
Here’s how to spot The Flake; he asks for dates at the last minute, usually by text message instead of a phone call. He fails to nail down the details, leaving you wondering what time you’re getting together and where you’re going. He may even be very sweet, but you will never pin him down.
Frankly, he’s not worth the frustration. Flaky people bring drama and instability to your life. Run from this guy!
The Potential Stalker
This is the guy who “likes” every post or photo on your Facebook page (even the ones from 5 years ago) and wants your time and attention 24/7.
The biggest problem with the potential stalker is that he’s fundamentally insecure. He fears being rejected or abandoned, and he puts out that vibe, which eventually turns women off. He’s the opposite of what most women want (a man who is emotionally strong).
Here’s how to spot him; he wants way too much, way too soon. He wants to see you every day of the week and you just met. He can’t handle it if you say “not tonight.” The minute you try to push him away, he begins to act out, and sometimes that comes across as stalking behavior, but the danger is that it can escalate to violence if he’s really unbalanced.
The best thing to do is not get involved with him; you can’t rehabilitate him, and he’s potentially dangerous.
The Control Freak
This guy wants to do things his way and he may gradually push your friends and family away.
The control freak operates from anxiety. He’s afraid of losing control, whether it’s of you, his own sense of mastery and control, or something that is valuable to him. If he starts pushing your friends and family out, he’s dangerous and not worth rehabilitating.
Here’s how to spot a control freak; he’s relentlessly picky and wants everything (big and small) done his way. If he’s ONLY controlling in small ways (i.e., he wants to load the dishwasher his way), perhaps try salvaging the relationship. If you love him, offer reassurance from time to time. Hug him, tell him you love him. Be lighthearted about the little things he likes to control—don’t make them a big deal. If you think he’s a good guy and worth it, accept that it is a part of him.
However, if he tries to run your life, especially in important ways like telling you to quit your job or dump a good friend (and he means it), you probably won’t be able to work it out.
Most of the guys I work with are good guys and NOT one of these guy types. And there are plenty of already great men out there waiting to meet you. The truth is that good men don’t need rehabbing. The real goal is to attract one of the already great guys.
Nina Atwood is a YourTango Expert and nationally known psychotherapist, author of five self-help books, and frequent expert media guest.