Got an issue? Here's how to change your partner's behavior.

Lauren Gray

Dear Lauren,

I’ve been with my man for 3 years and we fight constantly because he’s too flirty with other women. He even stays in touch with ex-girlfriends and continues very personal relationships with them, getting “good night” messages late at night with lots of “hugs and kisses.”  He insists they are all just friends. I have never been a jealous partner in past relationships but I have no trust in him. I want him to understand why I don’t like his behavior and then I want him to change it.

Hi Cara.

Friends: relationship helper or come-between-er?

Most of my best friends are guys and I admit that I have sent text messages to them appreciating their friendship and telling them I love them. Showing affection to friends, within bounds, is a beautiful thing, regardless of whether they’re in a relationship or not.

A healthy and independent social life makes men and women better partners.(Tweet that!)

This is why it always blows my mind when people get jealous of their partner’s friends. Be thankful they have friends! The alternative is a needy, clingy, dependent loner who leans on you for everything. (Click HERE to learn how having an “other woman” can save your relationship!)

Friends may steal a partner’s attention sometimes but it’s more than worth it. They serve a vital role in your relationship. They support your partner in being the best man he can be for you. (Same goes when you flip flop the genders.)

My big fat but

BUT even with all that in my back pocket, I STILL think your situation looks shady.

If you’re not ready to cut ties with him yet because you truly believe in your relationship and you believe he’s doing this out of an innocent cluelessness rather than a pathological need to be the center of attention and a blatant disinterest in monogamy, well then, I’m going to hook you up with your best option for getting him to change his behavior. 

I love you. You’re perfect. Now change.

Whenever you have an issue and would like your partner to change in order to fix it, you run the risk of sounding critical, demanding and controlling. In order to avoid this, as it leads to fighting, distrust, resentment and alienation, I appeal to the “golden rule” and suggest that you do too.

The Golden Rule:
In general, let your partner do whatever they want and be whoever they want to be. If you have a complaint about the way they are doing things, address it from the point of view of you having a need that needs to be met.


Your partner wants to make you happy so the golden rule is usually a productive way to initiate change for both men and women in relationships.

Applying The Golden Rule

If you want his attention at night and he’s talking to a girl “friend,” don’t rag on him or accuse him of cheating. (Click HERE to learn why that never works out in your favor.)

Instead, you can apply the golden rule and say something like this:

“Love, would you make night-time a special time just for us? I know you get texts and stuff but it would really mean a lot to me to have your undivided attention right now. Would you talk to her at another time?” Smile at him.

This is a totally fair and reasonable request. You’re not asking HIM to change, to cut ties, or to agree with your judgment that his behavior is “inappropriate” or “unloving.”

As long as you make your request known with a loving tone and intention, he should respond by giving you exactly what you want. You may need to ask him a few times before this clicks in as a habit. Keep it loving every time. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

When The Golden Rule doesn’t work…

If he doesn’t acquiesce or if you still don’t feel like your need is being met, then it’s time to look at the bigger picture.

In this particular case, your “need” is to feel like you are in a monogamous relationship and that you are the most important woman in his life. In order to achieve this you may need to pull out the big guns.

I usually don’t endorse ultimatums but in this case, if your needs are not being met, let him know that something needs to change or you’re done. You can say:

“I’m glad you have friends and I want you to be happy. The fact that so many of them are women and that you’re so affectionate with them is neither good nor bad but it does cross a boundary of what feels appropriate to me.

“I appreciate your reassurance that I am the most important woman in your life but I need more demonstration of that. I’m not asking you to give up your friends but if you don’t start making some boundaries with your female friends and ex-girlfriends, I have to leave this relationship.

In order for me to be happy, I need to be in a monogamous relationship and this is not what monogamy looks like to me.”


How to get your happy ending

Before you commit to this path, you need to understand that by making this statement you are setting a boundary for yourself: if he cannot meet your needs, you walk away and don’t look back.

Just because you love someone doesn’t mean they’re the right partner for you.

Find someone who can meet your needs for monogamy and live happily ever after with them. By using The Golden Rule, you give your man the opportunity to step up and be that special someone for you.

With love,

Now I want to hear from you! Take Action!
Is there a particular behavior YOU'd like your partner to change? 
How can you use the golden rule to get your needs met? What request would you put toward them? Leave a comment.
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read more blog posts from Lauren Gray
  • Lauren Gray
     11/5/2014 6:04:06 PM
    Hi Jacqui, Great Q! I've got your answer here:
  • Jacqui
     10/19/2014 7:15:07 PM
    Hi Lauren, thank goodness for your advice! I would love it if you could shed some light on why men are so secretive and why they feel the need to lie, even about stupid little things...I get that they might fear the kind of reaction they'll get, but I'm not they type to fly off the handle, so it makes me wonder if they enjoy being secretive or having a secret or two (or many!) of their own?? Thank you x
  • jj
     6/16/2014 10:04:52 PM
    Thanks Lauren. I have emailed you at the page. Meanwhile would appreciate some advice as this is killing me. In short she would text me but wouldn't talk or see me.
  • Lauren Gray
     6/16/2014 1:34:57 PM
    Hi jj. I'm so glad you're enjoying the advice. I'd be happy to work one on one with you on your specific relationship question. Here is the link to my Work With Me page:
  • jj
     6/15/2014 6:00:30 AM
    Hi Lauren, I have been reading your blog and thought that you give really helpful and practical advice. I also like that it comes from a women so you you've that perspective that only a women knows. I would appreciate your thoughts and advice on my situation. Me and my gf are both in our early 40s and have dated over a year now. She has a 6 year old kid and separated with her husband. She wanted a divorce but her husband refused to sign the papers nor have a proper talk with her to sort things out. She is also a career women and is quite successful in her work life but she is currently having issues with her boss. The other thing that I need to mention is that ours is also her first woman-woman relationship. So as you can see there are all this "stress' in her life at the moment. She has a very strong character and quite independent. She told me at the early stages that she doesn't need to date anyone and if it's not because we've known for such a long time (she was my high school crush) she wouldn't want to establish a relationship with anyone cos she didn't want to start the whole process of getting to know each other. And I know she did some thinking if she should start things with me before we got together..she came to a conclusion that 'if the feeling is good then be together' We have had a few fights throughout this time and it's mostly on the issue that I complain that she doesn't love me or show affection. There are times when she is all loving and sweet. But other times when I asked to be intimate and she refuses I'd be really upset and pissed and she would ignore me. About two weeks ago, we had the same fight again. I asked for a kiss at bed time and she refused and I said i wasn't even asking for sex, and that she would'd even want a kiss. The next morning I hugged her and gave her a kiss on the forehead and left for work. ...
  • lady2fab
     6/9/2014 5:13:30 PM
    Hi Lauren i really need some help and advice on trying to figure out if my man is running game on me or if what he says is true. ill start from the beginning because our relationship is very complicated. first thing first this is my ex of 6 months over 7 years ago, we were 17 years old we lost contact because i moved out of the state and i also had a 1 year old and i didnt want to tie him down with a long distance relationship,.i got back with my daughters farther and married him at 22. my husband who (we are separated for 4 months now) and im now 25 with 2 girls. we have been friends for the past 7 years and we recently started talking in march and it was friendly at first and then he oneday he told me he loved me i was the one that got away and i told him we can only be friends but we some how ended up talking everyday and in may he told me he loved me i asked him how does he knows he loves and he told me enough that i am convinced now i am falling in love with him :) hes great in everyway but i cant read him only because of his actions. hes single, hes 3 hours away from me and mind you we havent touched or even seen each other in 7 years so i no what im feeling is true but i dont no about him heres why. we talk over facebook monday - friday every week ! hes off during the weekends and every other weekend he coaches a basketball them and /or parties. he will and has not contacted me on the weekends untill this past satuday when he was drunk and out partying for his birthday. now i dont no why he doesnt speak to me on the weekends thats his choice not mines. saturday night he sent me a inbox stating "he loves me and then says im rally drunk" i wrote back "lol so your having a good time?" he states " something like that it would be better if you were here" i said " if it makes me you feel any better ive been thinking about you alday and speaking with you now made my night" he said " babe you just made my bday weekend"
  • Lauren Gray
     6/9/2014 10:38:12 AM
    I think it's a wonderful approach MsMaggie. You asked for what you wanted without condemning him. Lighthearted. Clear. Loving. I'm sure he's happy to give you what you asked for. Not only that, you didn't say, "Don't call me when you drink," you said, "If you want to call me to see me when you drink, let me know how many drinks you've had so I can decide for myself if I want to hang out." You just asked for information SO THAT you could make an informed decision that would support your happiness. THIS is a beautiful example of a woman taking responsibility for her own happiness and setting her partner up for success even in the wake of a mistake. Great job! Thanks for sharing. :-)...
  • msmaggie801
     6/8/2014 2:27:12 PM
    Hi Lauren I've been with my partner for 4months and everything has been going really well.. until last night he invited me to come round after work. I found him blind drunk! I was upset, and he apologized profusely and said he loved me and didn't want to screw up our relationship. In the morning we talked and I asked him to agree to let me know if he's going to be having more than a couple of drinks so I could decide if I wanted to see him. It sounds like this is more than just a 'one off' binge, but I didn't want to lay down the law or make him feel like he's a criminal. What do you think of this approach? thanks for your help! ...

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