Relationship Urban Legend # 1
The Fixer-Upper: He Will Change, Because I will make him.
When I was in college I had a friend who’s cousin’s college roommate was dating a complete and utter douche bag. He cheated, he was verbally abusive, he drank, did drugs, gambled you name it. Virtually he indulged in every vice known to man. And then, they got married and almost over night, he became a changed man. His wife’s love and compassion, her strong will and her superhero abilities transformed him into the loving husband and devoted father he is today. Ok, this is quite obviously bull shit. However, we all have heard a story similar to this one about a man who had some horrendous personality trait that was systematically weeded out by the sheer strength of his girl friends will power. Essentially, she was able to change him. It was with stories like that in mind, which had been regaled to me in various forms, most of which from married friends and my mother, that several weeks before my wedding I found myself making a Pro’s and Con’s list about the man I was intending to marry. Yes really. On the con list, to name a few, where blatant insensitivity, selfishness, and gross immaturity. I debated, and several days later decided that those where traits I was willing to live with. I would settle, because his other qualities redeemed him. Or I thought I was making the conscious decision to live with them. What I was actually doing was ignoring them because, subconsciously, I figured I could change him later. Well, surprise, surprise…I was wrong.
This attitude that we women have, that we can change the things we don’t like about our significant other, is probably the biggest relationship urban legend in existence. Most likely, because to some extent it‘s based on fact. Or so we think. Every time I got him to stop peeing on the seat, or to close the cabinet door instead of leaving them open (oh my god, something that drove me absolutely crazy) was proof that I could bend him to my will, and those bigger things, like cheating on me, or the fact that he put just about everything on the more important than his wife list could actually be changed, it would just take longer. What I didn’t understand, until much much later, was that I wasn’t changing fundamental character flaws, I was just eroding bad habits. And unfortunately, most women never realize the difference, until it’s to late.
You are probably at the point where your thinking Yessssss Shannon I know that I can’t change people. THEY have to want to change themselves. Stop rolling your eyes. Because your still trying to do it. Think about it for a few moments. I’ll wait. Yes, I agree everyone knows this, but the point is that we women still try and do it, especially with men. I know I still do from time to time. For me, it’s because I tend to forget that men fall into the “people” category, and are subject to the same base laws of nature like everyone else, such as they have feelings, needs, and are not just inanimate objects subject to my will. Something that my friends continuously remind me of when dealing with them. Regardless of why we still continue to think that we can change our men, the point is that, unless he has some very key ingredients, the recipe for a whole new boyfriend, will fail. And unfortunately, the things on this shopping list are ones that only he can pick up.
For most, there has to be the ability to recognize that there might be something about himself that needs changing. This calls for a self awareness that most men, actually most people don’t poses. Once he realizes that there might be a need for change, he has to be able to recognize what exactly those things are that need to be remedied. He also has to have the tools to fix them. And most importantly there has to be a genuine desire to change, that‘s not being motivated or influenced by anyone other than himself. Unless he has done all this, no matter how strong your will is, or how determined you think you are, there is no amount of bitching, pleading, crying, nagging or bribing that is going to get him to stop doing the things that are hurting you.
You can not change him. There I said it. What you can do, however, is first figure out whether the man you are with actually has some deep rooted flaws or just bad habits. Bad habits, are just that, regularly repeated negative behavior patterns that one has picked up over the years. They are, but not limited to: the above mentioned peeing on the seat, dropping the F bomb in almost every conversation, never replacing the toilet paper roll when empty, ext… Character flaws, are much more serious and often much harder to spot. Lying, habitually cheating, insensitivity, laziness (and I’m not talking about laying on the couch trying to turn on the T.V. with Jedi mind tricks) alcoholism, drug abuse, being a horribly dresser. The list is endless. Once you have decided which category he falls into, then you have a decision to make. If it’s primarily bad habits that he is guilty of, then stay, and hope that he’ll eventually realize that it’s not ok to tell R rated jokes to your grandmother and will stop. Or leave and find someone with some class. If it’s the other, then make the conscious decision to stay, accept that you will never ever change him and then stop bitching about it. Or realize that you are a total badass, an outstanding women and walk away. Then go find the guy that you’ve been trying to turn your boyfriend into all along. Trust me, he’s out there and you deserve it.