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Can You Tame a ‘Bad Boy’ to Settle Down?

by Dr. Seth Meyers - May 31, 2016

Picture it: You’ve met a great guy but you can tell that he’s someone who isn’t yet settled and doesn’t seem to want settle down anytime soon. The problem? You want him to settle down with you! Is there something you can do to make him settle down? Keep reading and you’ll find that the answer is mostly no, with a touch of yes mixed in.

You can’t make a man settle down if he really doesn’t want to settle down yet.

You’ve probably met hundreds of guys like this at work, in your social circle, or when you’re out and about. You’ve seen Mr. Can’t Be Tamed hitting on multiple women, going from one date to another, and going out on the weekend with the energy of a bona fide human battery. Simply put, most guys who play the role of the “player” or the “bad boy” won’t be tamed for long by just one person. These men crave the stimulation and attention they get from playing the field, and giving up that sort of “drug” will take years – not weeks or months.

The few bad boys who can be tamed…

In order for a bad boy to settle down, there has to be a part of him that has been thinking about and wanting to settle down. If there is a part of him that feels that he is outgrowing the player lifestyle, you have something to work with. The best way to figure out if a bad boy is ready for a long-term, monogamous relationship, is to simply ask. When you ask, ask him a few different ways, and don’t stop asking until you get a clear sense of what he wants.

A set of questions to ask to see if he is ready to settle down:

“Are you interested in dating casually, or are you looking for someone you could potentially have a long-term relationship with? Do you and your friends still go out a lot on the weekends? If you settled down and got into a serious relationship, would you feel like you’re missing out a lot on things with your friends? Are most of your best friends single or settled down?” Granted, this may sound like a bit of an inquisition, but it’s actually only four questions, and this is an important issue! After all, you are trying to figure out if it is wise for you to invest your energy into this person. Once you have asked these few questions, you will have a much better sense of whether this is a man with whom you can settle down and start a serious relationship.

The reasons why some men don’t want to settle down now…

The vast majority of men will settle down one day, meaning that they will choose a partner to set up house with and have a family. If a man does not want to settle down now but will settle down later, he doesn’t want to do it now because he still wants to celebrate his freedom and have fun while he can; his group of friends is still hanging out and he doesn’t want to miss out; or he is focused on developing his career and doesn’t want anything to get in the way of that at this point in time.

The reasons why some men don’t want to settle down ever…

While the majority of men will one day settle down, some men never will choose the traditional, settled life. In other words, not every man will end up searching the car lot for that minivan. Most men who won’t settle down and choose a long-term relationship are single at heart, and they don’t want the attachment and intimacy that comes with married life. These men are really only turned on by having a spontaneous, indulgent lifestyle that would die a tragic death with a partner or kids. What’s more, many of these men have unresolved, major emotional issues that cause them to avoid settling down and committing.

The overall message

If you meet someone who hesitates about taking the relationship to the next level, ask yourself the following two questions: Does he want to settle down now? Will he ever settle down? You have to ask him these questions, too, but make sure that you don’t sound anxious, angry, or judgmental when you ask. The truth is that most of us have an instinct that tells us whether someone is ready to settle down, so be extremely honest with yourself so that you can hear the answer.

About the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve