They Do Exist.

Dating Mistakes: I Can Change Him

Editor’s Note: I am so incredibly thrilled that Ruthie Dean wrote this post for us. She blogs at and tweets at @_ruthiedean. If you’re dating someone who doesn’t share your faith, I’ve written another post on the topic for you here. Much love. – Lauren

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 embarrassingly began a relationship with him 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 Greg. 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?.

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21 Responses

  1. Pingback: The Good Women Project | Dating Mistakes: I Can Change Him |

  2. andrealucado

    Great post, Ruthie! Way to be vulnerable. I think you're resonating with a lot of us Christian girls with "good intentions." I dated a non-believer for way too long because I liked how he challenged my faith. WHAT? :) The person you're spending the most time with should be encouraging your faith. I'm grateful for God's grace in teaching me that before it was too late.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

  3. Wow. This is something I've heard over and over, but your particular perspective and experiences with it are almost unbelievable.
    "God is in the business of changing and redeeming men’s hearts. You aren’t." so true. Even after the dating is over, it still applies. If I want something in my husband to change, I usually find something in myself that needs to be changed by God instead.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm

  4. Absolutely love this. Like Kelly, I've heard the "you can't change him" thing over and over but never in a way that hit so hard. Thank you for your honesty & vulnerability–us single ladies need it :) I lead a twentysomethings small group on Monday nights & will be taking this with me next week to share with the girls!

    October 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

  5. Thanks :-)

    Thank you for the post! I LOVED that you touched on this subject. Thank you so much for your transparency. I see this ALL the time among my Christian sisters, including myself. It makes me so sad to watch. The Lord showed me in a mighty way that when I stepped aside, He was faithful to lead me to the man He wanted me to be with. He literally played match maker and set me up with my husband and the irony is, my husband is better than any guy I would have ever picked for myself. Believe me when I say, it's worth waiting on the Lord in this area of your life (every area, for that matter). I wasted 15 years of my life dating guys just like you described above (tons of alcoholics and yep, even several drug dealers and ex-cons). You hit the nail on the head that according to the Word we are not to be dating people like this, not just the obvious "bad guys" but non-believers in general. This is SO important!! Do not rationalize and make excuses that it's okay. And why does the Bible tell us this? To protect us and our relationship with Christ! This is a command because its for our own good. I have seen so many Christian woman and men fall away from their faith because they dated or even married a non-believer with the hope that "one day" their significant other would be saved. Years later the non-believer is still a non-believer and the "Christian's" faith has been compromised or they were put through much unnecessary pain because of the disconnect in this area of their lives. At this point I've probably wrote too much but just want to drive the point, because I'm living proof, to please please give the Lord control over this area of your life! He WON'T let you down!! :-)

    October 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm

  6. Ruthie D.

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! I just want to shout–such truth, sister. I have seen SO MANY women walk away from Christ because of some loser guy that promises to change…I am thankful God graciously sent me to a foreign country (China) to live for years and realize the kind of man I needed to wait for. Thank you for commenting! I'm grateful for my story…because God is redeeming it every single day.

    October 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm

  7. kelsey6791

    I've been in the same position before. But strangely, I didn't have enough sense to care whether or not he was a Christian. He certainly was not a "good" guy, with a penchant for drinking,smoking, and sadism. Maybe I knew I couldn't change him ,so I just had to be satisfied with guessing what his next move was. It's completely different for me now, I haven't seen or talked to him since June. I'm 99% sure he's the same skeezy doofus he was 4 months ago, I'm just grateful it's not my problem anymore. Still, I certainly do have a hard time trusting God with my future husband. I've been reflecting on it lately and I've come to the conclusion that I will practice a celibate lifestyle until God calls me out of that period. I'm pretty content with that decision :)

    October 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm

  8. jen s.

    so, so, so, so very true. thanks for writing this! i have definitely been there.

    October 20, 2011 at 8:50 am

  9. Leann

    What a GREAT post, Ruthie. You've done it again. Taken something personal and somehow translated it for the rest of us to apply it to our broken redeemable hearts.

    October 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm

  10. Pingback: Day 22: The Twelfth Saturday Linky Love |

  11. Ruthie – thank you SO much!

    How true, and how incredible that you can get this into the minds and hopefully hearts of all of us silly girls! How easy it is to think we stand "strong" and that our strength can change whatever man we happen to be standing next to at the time. I also have struggled through this for years. It hasn't been until the past year that I really started to understand the point you made so clearly here.

    thank you, thank you, thank you. for reminding me that it is not, and never has been, my place to change men. That is the Lord's place alone. And He'll do a much better job at it anyway!!

    October 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm

  12. Pingback: Dating Mistakes: I Can Change Him |

  13. Pingback: What I Learned In 2011: God Is A Good Dad - Good Women Project

  14. Elle

    I don't know if anyone disagree with me, but this post rubs me the wrong way a bit. I'm currently dating a non-believer, and I think it is God's will that we're dating. There's been a lot of struggle, ups and downs, but I think we're both growing personally. I'd also like to comment on, "The Bible warns us not to become entangled with non-believers." In 1 Corinthians 7: 13,14 it says: "And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband…" To me, it sounds like you wrote this article because you were disappointed you couldn't change these men. I completely understand where you're coming from, and it's great that you want to let other women know that it's not their fault they couldn't change these men. My view on dating non-believers is this: date him if you like him, share Jesus without shoving Him down the guy's throat, and pray and live from there on out.
    "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?"
    Perhaps God is trying to change this man's heart, and part of it is being done through you. Change is a long process. It's not going to happen over night, but your firm love in Christ and good example (if you set one) will be remembered. Also, it's important to note that perhaps God is trying to change him, and the guy just isn't listening. God has given us free will. I think the point of this article was to inform women not to be upset that they couldn't change the men they have dated, and that's a great point. I do, however, disagree that we should remain idle in the relationship and let God do all the work. God might be working through you- the both of you were attracted to each other for some reason.

    March 25, 2012 at 9:19 pm

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