Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “My Girlfriend Refuses to Compromise”

I have been in a relationship with a lovely girl for five and a half years but we keep running into problems. I am willing to make the effort in order to work things out, but she is completely unwilling to change on her part.

To give you an idea of what I mean: She didn’t like me when I got too drunk, so I stopped drinking more than 1 or 2 drinks per night out (which aren’t often); she didn’t like certain aspects of my behavior (little everyday stuff and bad habits, etc.) and I have either successfully remedied or am making big efforts to remedy those problems. In return, I have asked her to stop being so negative (any little amount of stress and she thinks it’s the end of the world and then I am faced with impossible expectations in order to cheer her up). Also, she has a low sex drive and we have talked about remedying this. And while I always try to find a compromise, she does not.

She has admitted in arguments that she does not want to change or compromise, and this concerns me. She justifies her behavior by saying she does other things, such as making food, but these are things I am not too concerned about. It seems like she does things she prefers to do to avoid changing or addressing the big issues that I want her to change.

She also uses threats of breaking up and breaks in the relationship as ways of ending arguments she has lost.

I really want this relationship to work as, when it is good, we work perfectly, but she is just unwilling to compromise on big issues affecting the relationship. It is always about how SHE feels and what SHE wants, never the other way around. What should I do? — Frustrated with Uncompromising Girlfriend

She’s made it clear (again and again, it sounds like) that she has no interest in changing. If she has to change in order for you to be happy with your relationship, it’s time to move on already (I mean, good Lord, it’s been five years!). Either accept her as is, or MOA. And in the future, if you want a design-your-own-girlfriend, look into getting a real doll or something. Otherwise, accept that everyone is going to have something (some things) you don’t like. The key to a successful relationship is finding someone whose things you don’t like aren’t deal-breakers and can be tolerated and accepted (just as your things can be tolerated and accepted).

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

27 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Unwanted_Truth July 1, 2015, 8:21 am

    Works both ways. True she shouldn’t have to change who she is , and sure those things can be deal breakers, but he shouldn’t have had to change who he was either to make her happy. ” If she has to change in order for you to be happy with her and your relationship, it’s time to move on already (I mean, good Lord, it’s been five years!).” Same goes for him when he had to make all these changes that got her riled up. MOA LW, good luck. Unless you’re a complete belligerent asshat every time you have more than two drinks than just do you and be happy with yourself, someone is out there for everyone, go find her. Don’t change who you’re and how you operate unless it hurts you or someone else.

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  • avatar

    Unwanted_Truth July 1, 2015, 8:24 am

    Also, just wanted to add, if you two can’t have a argument or conflict without her threatening to end the relationship if/when she loses an argument, that usually means she wants it to be over and doesn’t have the guts to end it herself. That goes for men/women. Can’t communicate? It’s not going to work.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes July 1, 2015, 8:31 am

      I agree that once something like a breakup/divorce has been put on the table, it never really goes away. Someone threatens it often? Ugh, MOA. Yesterday.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh July 1, 2015, 8:28 am

    It sounds like neither of you was ever truly happy, why have you stayed for 5 years? How often do you have those perfect moments? It sounds like she wants to break up but isn’t willing to put the effort in to actually do it. Maybe her telling you that she isn’t willing to change/compromise is her way of getting you to break up with her. You can’t force someone to be the person you want them to be or put effort in to a relationship when they don’t want to. There really isn’t anything you can do here. And in your next relationship like Wendy said find someone who you don’t need to change for and they don’t need you to change for them.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes July 1, 2015, 8:29 am

    WWS!!!!
    *
    LW, you sound miserable. Just because she is “lovely” doesnt make her a good match. Sounds like both of you view the other as a square peg and are trying to fit the other into a round hole, as they say.
    *
    You sound like a decent guy, so let her go and go find someone that suits you better.

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  • juliecatharine

    juliecatharine July 1, 2015, 8:31 am

    I think everyone goes through periods in a relationship when it’s all about one partner. LW, if that period is more like the entire length of your relationship move on asap. Why would you want to be with a selfish woman who won’t compromise? Only you know if her good qualities outweigh the bad but it sounds as though you walk on eggshells trying to keep this chick happy. Life is too short for that nonsense.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros July 1, 2015, 8:45 am

    “I am willing to make the effort in order to work things out but she is completely unwilling to change on her part.”

    Not sure you needed to write anything more than this sentence. If a partner has qualities that you cannot accept and they will not change, then it’s pretty much over.

    Though, I will say that I think you’re comparing apples to oranges. Getting drunk and “bad habits” (whatever those may be) are different than personality traits and sex drive. Sure, a person can try to be less negative or choose to have sex more, but the actual traits are generally who a person is. I’d assume you wouldn’t claim that getting drunk and whatever other habits you changed are a part of who you are. That’s not to say that you should just let it go and stay with her, because you’re clearly unhappy, but you’re making her out to be an uncompromising bad guy, when it’s really, to me, just about incompatibility.

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    • Portia

      Portia July 1, 2015, 9:09 am

      I agree. The examples the LW uses are not easily changeable. I guess cutting down on drinking would also not be easily changeable if you were an alcoholic, but it doesn’t sound like the LW was. The LW sounds bitter that they’ve made all these changes, but they agreed to make those changes I’m assuming out of their free will.
      .
      You can’t make someone change but you can decide the relationship won’t work if they can’t/don’t change. LW, you have to make that call.

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    • Lady_Red

      Red_Lady July 1, 2015, 2:52 pm

      That was my thought too- cutting back on drinking is much easier than cutting back on negativity or stress. Drinking is more of a habit, which can be changed. Being pessimistic and easily stressed are much deeper, and would take a lot of work and likely outside help in order to change

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  • avatar

    eelliinnss July 1, 2015, 8:47 am

    The advice is spot on but I feel like that one sentence in the middle is kind of harsh. It’s true that you can’t design your perfect mate and that if someone isn’t what you’re looking for and refuses to change you should move on. But it’s harsh to imply this is the LW’s fault for expecting the girlfriend to change… The LW has already changed/compromised a TON and was expecting the girlfriend to be willing to do the same, but she isn’t.
    .
    It’s not that the LW is demanding the girlfriend be someone she’s not. It’s more like, the LW has made a lot of effort and is expecting the girlfriend to reciprocate, because they are (supposed to) love and respect each other, and good partnerships try to compromise.
    .
    It sucks that LW has put in so much effort and clearly cares about doing whatever can be done to keep the relationship strong. It sucks worse that it’s not being reciprocated. It sucks most that now it’s time to MOA after putting in all the time. But people who are good together don’t try to make each other change. People who are good together accept the others’ flaws and compromise on the things they can’t accept. This couple isn’t doing that, which means it’s time to move on.

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  • avatar

    cyndi July 1, 2015, 8:52 am

    Wendy- I think you’re missing the point here. He seems to bending over backwards to make her happy and doesn’t understand why she can’t meet him halfway. He changed the things that she didn’t like. LW, I will tell you this- the two issues you have with her are BIG issues, that go beyond everyday stuff and bad habits. She may not be able to change. That is her personality. Those are things that sometimes require therapy/medical interventions or as Wendy says, accept that is the way she is. Find someone more compatible.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy July 1, 2015, 11:34 am

      Nah, I didn’t miss the point. The LW is “bending over backwards,” expecting his girlfriend to do the same. He has a list of things he wants her to change about herself and expects that because he changed some things, she should, too. But we don’t get to design our partners (not if they’re human). Sure, we can suggest or ask or even demand that they change behaviors we don’t like, but if they can’t or don’t want to, it’s not like we get a return on our purchase.
      .
      Compromising is absolutely essential in a relationship, but changing big things about yourself and then expecting the other person to change big things about herself isn’t really compromise. It isn’t “meeting in the middle.” It’s trying to make yourself right for someone who isn’t right for you. For the record, compromise would be more like, one person wants sushi for dinner, another wants indian food, so they have Thai instead. Or, they decide one person chooses the dinner tonight and the other chooses next time. There’s a big difference between compromising and all-out changing yourself and then expecting someone else to change herself to meet your idea of the perfect person.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 July 1, 2015, 2:09 pm

        This totally, just because he is willing to change (which I mean come on his are things anyone is going to want to be changed) doesn’t mean she has to change to be some person she doesn’t want to be, and if he doesn’t like who she is now it’s time it to end, because this will never happily last. I am curious to know what he is asking though since her reply is hey look I cook food. What is he asking for? Her to clean the toilets, and scrub the floors, and that is why she is using other similar actions as her reply? If it is just things like that, and he is mad that she is lazy and wants her to help around the house he might have a little more of an argument, but either way she aint changing.

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      • othy

        othy July 1, 2015, 4:04 pm

        Othello and I make that compromise for Thai food all the time. And now I’m hungry for sushi, Indian, and Thai food for dinner.

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      • Portia

        Portia July 1, 2015, 5:05 pm

        Now I want Thai food too!

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet July 1, 2015, 9:06 am

    It sounds like the things you want her to change are more personality flaws vs behavioral. She doesn’t sound like she manages stress well and as for the low sex-drive, I hope you can see that having sex without desire is probably a lot harder than limiting your alcohol intake when you go out occasionally. All this to say, if you want your relationship to work, you have to learn how to communicate better with her. Stop comparing tit for tat. Just because you changed some of your behaviors does not give you the right to make her change, too. You have to talk to her about these issues in a safe way, by explaining how they make you feel and brainstorming resolutions, understanding that changes won’t happen overnight and even if they DO happen, it may not be in the way that you’re hoping. She’s never going to be the optimistic girl who manages stress well and wants to jump your bones all the time. If you’re not okay with that, then please, just move on.
    .
    And I hope this was all legible because damn, I need coffee this morning!

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  • avatar

    TheTruth July 1, 2015, 9:09 am

    The more you change to plead a woman, the less she will respect you.

    Go to the gym, man up, break up, find someone who doesn’t need to change.

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  • avatar

    joanna July 1, 2015, 10:16 am

    A person should not have to “change” herself to be in a relationship. If you don’t like the person she is right now then move on.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope July 1, 2015, 10:17 am

    The Truth–You’re spot on. LW, she’s testing you–trying to emasculate you (and if is she’s succeeding, this could explain her low sex drive). If you don’t allow it, she’ll respect you and she will change.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh July 1, 2015, 10:21 am

      I’m sorry but that is terrible advice. She is not ‘testing’ anyone or trying to emasculate them. She just isn’t as interested as he is in the relationship. How would he not ‘allow’ it exactly? Force her to do what he wants? Since what he wants is for her to not worry and to have sex with him, I’m sure forcing her will go over great and definitely solve all of their relationship issues. Or maybe getting drunk will fix it? No, there is no fixing this relationship. It’s time for him to find someone more compatible. Not force her in to changing.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes July 1, 2015, 10:47 am

      Im with jlyfsh- giving any kind of advice here other than Run Far Far Away from this relationship will do nothing but give the LW false hope. LW and his gf sound like they are at an impasse- one they have been at for way way way too long.
      *
      Im also not 100% comfortable with all the stuff being said about changing… Major personality-kind of changes are really things to be dealt with with a professional, I would think. GF’s Gloom and Doom stuff sounds like stuff you cant just turn off or on.
      *
      Im just not comfortable saying that it is ok to ask someone to make some major changes of self for another person (/romantic relationship). In my experience, when you fall totally, deeply in love with someone, the things that irk you just kind of fade into the background- maybe when you are in a bad mood or something, then that thing pops in your mind and grates on you, but not long-term.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope July 1, 2015, 10:52 am

    No no no! I did not mean he should force himself on her in any way!! Oh my gosh, no! I meant that he should not allow her to change him. He should be his own person. Honestly, I do think if he didn’t wimp out, it might force her to stop being such a control freak, and she might suddenly find herself more attracted to him.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes July 1, 2015, 11:11 am

      I…dont get what you are saying, and to be honest, didnt really get it in your first comment. However, I do not think you are advocating for LW forcing himself on his GF.
      *
      I stand by my comment that anything beyond, “MOA this is a dead relationship,” is going to give LW false hope.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh July 1, 2015, 12:55 pm

      But, what does don’t wimp out mean? He’s not wimping out. I agree with Raccoon Eyes any advice on how to stay and make this relationship work are pointless. I don’t get what he would do to change things. Even if he was his own person and didn’t change, he’s still going to be unhappy with her. Where does that get him? He’ll still be in the same situation, unhappy with things about her. She’s not going to suddenly decide to worry less because he isn’t making changes.

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  • norabb

    norabb July 1, 2015, 11:26 am

    You have to admit to yourself that you can’t force her to change. You can’t force anyone to change unless they want to. You deserve someone who is just as caring as you are…since you were willing to change those habits for her, it shows you really care about the relationship. BUT there comes a point where you’re just being a doormat. No one should hold a relationship over your head. You gotta find someone who is just as caring as you. You sound like a good person, don’t settle for anything less than you deserve!

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  • avatar

    TheTruth July 1, 2015, 4:35 pm

    The more you change to please a woman, the less she will respect you.

    Go to the gym, man up, break up, find someone who doesn’t need to change.

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  • bittergaymark

    Anonymous July 2, 2015, 12:21 pm

    She sounds beyond annoying. MOA. You can definitely do better. “Don’t go for second best, baby…”

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