No, You Can’t Make a Person Change

Mark Manson
9 min readNov 29, 2021

W e’ve all had that one person — that one person in our lives that we always find ourselves saying, “If only they would…” Month after month, year after year — we love them, we care about them, we worry for them, but when we turn off the light or hang up the phone, we think to ourselves, “If only they would…”

Maybe it’s a family member. Maybe they’re depressed. Heartbroken. Despondent. Maybe they don’t believe in themselves. And every time you see them, you try to fill them with love and confidence, you compliment their new Spiderman shirt and tell them how bitching their new haircut is. You casually encourage them and offer some unsolicited tips and recommend a book or two and silently say to yourself:

“If only they would believe in themselves…”

Or maybe it’s a friend. Maybe you see them fucking up left, right, and center. Drinking too much. Cheating on their partner. Blowing all their money on their odd yet obsessive go-kart hobby. You pull them aside and give them the hands-on-the-shoulders pep talk that friends are supposed to do. Maybe you offer to take a look at their bank statement and maybe even give them a loan or two. Meanwhile, in the back of your head, you keep thinking:

“If only they would get their shit together…”

Or maybe it’s the worst. Maybe it’s your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend. Or even worse, it’s your ex- husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe it’s over but you keep clinging to the hope that they’ll somehow change. That there’s some special piece of information that they missed that would change everything. Maybe you keep buying them books that they never read. Maybe you drag them to a therapist that they don’t want to go to. Maybe you try leaving tearful voicemails at two in the morning, screaming, “WHY AM I NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?!!?”

Yeah, like that’s ever worked…

We’ve all got that person in our lives. Loving them hurts. But losing them hurts. So, we decide, the only way to salvage this emotional clusterfuck is to somehow change them.

Mark Manson

Author of #1 NYTimes Bestseller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’. OG Blogger. Psychology Nerd. I enjoy cats and whiskey. But not at the same time.