“Sometimes your knight in shining armour turns out to be a loser wrapped in aluminum foil.” – some random disappointed woman

Many women love a good challenge. Heck, I may be one of them. Nothing piques my interest more than finding something – or someone – that I can “fix”. While this personality trait may be great when it comes to inanimate objects, like a fixer-upper house, or a piece of antique furniture that needs a little TLC, it isn’t always a good thing when it comes to “renovating” people.

Sadly, a lot of women meet a guy who’s a little rough around the edges and they immediately envision how they can spruce him up and make him a decent human being. In the end, these women end up hurt, frustrated, and disappointed, over and over and over again. Yet somehow, they keep running back into the arms of their “project”.

So, why does this happen? What makes a perfectly good women torture herself with a loser boyfriend/husband/ex who does nothing but make her cry and lose every ounce of hard-won self-esteem?

For some women, it’s a matter of pride. They think that someday, somehow, they’ll finally turn their frog into the prince that they know he is deep down inside. For others, they grew up in a house where their father treated them the same way, and in their eyes, it’s an entirely normal relationship dynamic. Even other women are simply just lonely and want to be wanted, so any little hint of interest from their “knight in shining armor” is enough to string them along. None of these are worthy reasons.

And, unfortunately, this puts the man in a position of power. He quickly learns how to manipulate this needy girl and controls her every move by offering and withholding his “love” strategically. She becomes a puppet on a string that he maneuvers to his advantage. Friends and family may see that she’s suffering, but no amount of pleading can get her to realize it, or at least acknowledge what she certainly already knows is true.

For loved ones, the only thing they can usually do in these situations is wait. Wait for her to open her eyes. Wait for her to see their point of view. Wait for her to catch him in a lie. Wait for her to find out that he has an whole different life outside of the realm of their relationship that may even include other women and kids of his own. Wait for her to hit rock bottom. Wait for him to just go the hell away already.

Some men are like drugs. They know how to make women feel good, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for them. They give just enough pleasure, attention, “love”, compliments, charm…to keep her coming back for more. Just one more time. Just one more hit. In fact, many of these men are sociopaths. Others are just losers.

Speaking of sociopaths, that’s a whole other ball game. A woman involved with a sociopath is in a great position of danger. Sociopaths are masters of manipulation. Their charming personalities and dashing good looks make people fall for them fast. Once they have someone in their clutches, they’re able to gain complete control over that person’s life. Many women suffer from PTSD after breaking away from these types of relationships, if they’re able to at all.

In these situations, an intervention may be appropriate. If you notice a loved one who’s fallen victim to a sociopath, consult a professional who can help you talk to the victim and help her escape the relationship. Sometimes, police involvement and restraining orders may be necessary. Counseling can also be a good strategy for recovery.

If you happen to be a woman who loves a project yourself, please reconsider. Yes, dating is hard. Yes, it’s not easy to be alone. Yes, there aren’t many good choices out there in the singles population. But! There is one perfect man out there for you, and you just have to find him. Why waste time and energy on someone who doesn’t appreciate you? Sure, you may have temporary success in fixing up a fixer-upper, but old habits die hard and sooner than you can imagine, your project may be back to his old ways. Accept that some men simply may not want to change despite your best intentions.

If you know someone who loves the challenge of transforming a man into something better, all you can really do is listen to her and love her through the process. Unless, of course, the situation is becoming mentally, emotionally, or physically abusive. There’s a reason some women are okay with this and getting to the root of the issue is often helpful.

Finally, some guys are just oblivious. Some truly are projects who turn out great after a little DIY by a good-hearted woman. These men are rare gems. Watching them mature and evolve into decent people after a little friendly nudging in the right direction can be entirely rewarding for all of those involved. The problem is that it’s a risk. How do you know if this man has that potential? Or if that man simply needs time to become everything he’s supposed to be? It takes a special kind of discernment to know for sure.

The name of the game is patience. Ladies, if you’re able, simply wait for the right man to come along. One who’s already a diamond instead of a diamond in the rough. One who will put a diamond on your finger because you deserve it, not because you forced him to. Yes, some projects turn out great, but it can cost you years of blood, sweat, and tears to get him to that point. Ask yourself if it’s worth the challenge. If not, there are countless other ways in this life to challenge yourself. Ways that won’t hurt you and cause you heartache. Choose your projects wisely.

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