Saturday, January 1, 2011

She changed. He stayed the same. Who is Living in the Land of Make Believe?

Tennis. Comedy. Skiing. Driving along the countryside. Watching football. Community service. They both enjoyed all of these things in the beginning. She is extroverted. He is introverted. They're both on board. His family is nuts! Her family is pretentious. Both still on board. She talks to her girlfriends constantly. He deals. He dresses like a pauper. No worries. She can fix it, right? She doesn't like to cook. He can deal. He spends too much time with his friends. No worries. She can fix it, right?

A friend of mine and I were talking about relationships. He said that generally women change and want men to do the same and men stay the same and want women not to change. Hmm, I thought. I think that's right. If a woman enjoys watching football, hanging out at home every Friday night, and cooking dinner, a man expects that these things will remain throughout the relationship. Whatever the woman is like when he decides that he wants the her to be his partner, he's good with it.

On the other hand, women like certain aspects of the man they are partnering with and everything else she can change later. . .or so she believes. If she's a reader and he's not, she may go along with it in the beginning believing that she can persuade him to read at some point (This is an example and I am in no way suggesting that men don't read. I know plenty of men who do.) His clothing, language, and certain aspects of his behavior are all eligible for future tweaking. Keep in mind that the woman believes any changes she suggests will make him a better man and that he should be open to them. I once read that women marry the potential of a man. Truth?

As I conversed with an older woman some time ago, who had been married for over 20 years, she said that women need to ask themselves, "if he never changed another thing, could I be with him for the rest of my life". Now obviously as we mature, we find out things about ourselves; things that we like and things that we don't like. It makes sense that we would always be evolving, however as the evolution occurs, how do we continue to meet our partners where they are?

How many times have you stopped or started doing something that you felt was healthy for you and then come across someone who is not doing or doing that thing? Despite your follow up reaction, your first reaction is probably "I can't believe they haven't changed". Now you may have developed to a point where you don't judge it, but the thought usually comes.

In the beginning we sometimes live in the land of make believe when we think that we've considered all things to move forward in the relationship long term. The man believes that the woman of their dreams will remain the same. The woman believes that any adjustments realized, now or later, can be made. Since they both trust each other, why wouldn't he accept any advice from her; especially since it will make him "better".

Please know that I recognize that this does not apply to all relationships. However, there are enough circumstances that I've come across to talk about it. So, what's the answer? I believe that women have to take an honest look at the man you are considering is necessary. Come out of the Land of Make Believe into the Land of Authenticity and Truth and ask yourself "if he never changed another thing, no matter how you may change, can I meet him right where he is? And I believe men have to pay attention to the initial "love critiques".  This may give you some insight into what changes may come in the future, both for her and those suggested for him. Also, understand that whatever changes come in the future are most likely a result of her wanting to grow. Whether it comes from reading a book, her girlfriends, a seminar, work, etc., she believes it will enhance her life.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Women, when you change and he mentions it, don't get defensive or lecture him about how he needs to change also. Instead, understand that he thought you would stay the same and that is more comfortable for him. Don't judge. Share. Men, when she wants to "help" you change, understand that she believes that she is helping. Don't be offended. Communicate.

She changed. He stayed the same. Who is living in the land of make believe?

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