Warning! Spoilers ahead for multiple seasons of “You.”
Let’s be honest about Season 3 of You; I think all of us, way deep down, were rooting for Joe and Love.
Obviously, things were already off to a rough start—we knew by the end of Season 2 that Joe already had his eye on the next-door neighbor, despite having a baby and moving into the suburbs with Love. We knew that after discovering that Love was just as willing to murder someone as he was, Joe no longer looked at Love the same way anymore (cognitive dissonance, am I right?). So to believe these two would honestly be able to work things out was a bit of a longshot.
However, there was someone who really did believe it could happen—Love.
She, of course, knew all of Joe’s deepest, darkest secrets. She knew what he was capable of. She was fully aware of what she was stepping into, and yet she did so willingly. She was so enamored with him and the way he mirrored her, she was willing to—quite literally—kill for him.
Love knew Joe better than anyone on the planet—she knew he was looking for a genuine, soulmate-level connection. She also knew he wouldn’t rest until he found it.
Despite his past obsession with stalking other women, keeping their belongings, and eliminating anyone who stood in his way, Love wholeheartedly believed she and Joe were meant to be together and that all he would have to do is turn around and see it. She was sure that her (albeit unique) way of loving him would make him want to leave that kind of life behind and embark on a new one with her and their adorable son, Henry. And truthfully, we can’t blame her for thinking that way.
I think when it comes to falling in love, we all want to believe that when we find the person who radically changes our lives and makes us feel alive, everything will simply fall into place.
We like to believe that the person we’ve fallen in love with can make us better and that we can do the same for them. It’s not that we are totally blind to the red flags presented to us—we simply reason that nobody is perfect. We think that there will be a milestone that we will hit together that will cause the person to change their terrible habits and work to fix their flaws: whether it’s when we start dating, have sex for the first time, hit that one year anniversary, get married, have kids—that eventually, they will want to alter their ways because they love you so much.
Here is the truth: You can’t fix him.
I know part of you really thinks you could. That if you just love him hard enough, give him everything he swears he needs, and be as understanding as possible, then you won’t even have to fix him. He will do it all on his own.
The reality is, there is absolutely nothing you can say or do that will ever cause him to be any different. Sure, if he loves you, then your actions may have an effect on him. He may take them into consideration from time to time. Yet you are not capable of or responsible for whether he chooses to change. It’s a decision he has to make on his own.
He has to be the one to wake up and decide he doesn’t want to do those things anymore. Whether it’s lying, abusing, cheating, refusing to commit, being apathetic, or being possessive, it all comes back to him making the decision every single day to not engage in those things anymore. You can be everything that he’s asking for, and it won’t be enough—not if he doesn’t actually want to work on things.
Even if you drag him to couple’s therapy. Even if you marry him and have his child. Even if you do everything you can to try and show him you two really get each other. It won’t matter unless he is willing to fully put those things behind him, rather than trying to escape when things aren’t going exactly the way he wants them.
You deserve to be with someone who doesn’t judge you for your past mistakes, especially given they’ve made mistakes themselves. You deserve to be with someone who isn’t seeking perfection—he understands that you’re both a work in progress and that you can work together to become the best versions of yourselves. Someone who you can fully trust and who fully trusts you in return.
The sooner you realize this, the better. He isn’t going to alter his entire way of being simply because you want him to. He isn’t going to work on his bad habits solely for you—because even if he did, it wouldn’t last. Doing something for someone else doesn’t hold up if it’s not what you really want. You can promise yourself that you will do anything for another person… yet realize when you’re faced with temptation and that the other person will likely never find out, you can fall back into old patterns again.
No, you can’t fix him, no matter how many commitments you make or how fiercely you love him. If he continues to hurt you, dismiss you, and not care about your feelings repeatedly, then perhaps it’s time to decide to walk away. The sooner you realize you can’t fix him, the sooner you can decide whether or not you can stay with a person like this. You can finally realize that what you do will never be enough, and you can step out into the world and find someone else who will actually appreciate you for all that you are. Or even more so, you can accept that you are enough—to yourself and to the people who actually care for you.
As hard as it can be to accept, know that you deserve to be with someone who doesn’t need you to “fix” him, but instead someone who is actually a partner instead of a project. Someone who cherishes, loves, and is determined to work with you instead of working against you.
Because choosing to stay with a person who repeatedly puts you through all the pain, suffering, and agony of feeling like you aren’t worthy enough for his time, his respect, and his full devotion will wear you down day by day. Because “love” that looks like that isn’t honestly love at all.
In the end, that is the type of love that can kill you—in more ways than one.
And you deserve so much more than that.