We may think we’re getting the perfect man by expecting the one we have to change, but what can we really expect?
It starts innocently enough. We see a partner with “great potential.” Like the materials for an exciting craft project, we see the ingredients for our fantasy man. Maybe he’s tall or good looking, friendly, or has good family values. Never mind that he’s unpolished around the edges and doesn’t yet appreciate our version of the finer things in life…with our magic and dedication, we’ll have him pulling out chairs, opening doors, going antique shopping with us, and making six figures before it’s all said and done!
We think to ourselves “well, he really doesn’t know better or realize what he’s missing, so with my expert guidance and vision, he can go from nobody special to Mr. Incredible!”
The question we should be asking ourselves is do we want a puppet to control or a puppy dog to follow us around, or do we want a partner who is a real human being and will love us and be devoted to us? The point being, is it a relationship we are in search of or an opportunity to control someone else and the thrill of turning a dud into a stud?
We can’t exactly order up a human being to date or marry, compete with a list of specifications that suit our needs and desires. If that was possible, there would surely be no room for any of us because the flaws we each come with (e.g. a few extra pounds, an occasional pimple, a bad snoring habit, morning breath) wouldn’t be on anyone’s list! At that point, we might as well date good looking robots programmed to entertain and serve us.
So, why the compulsion to look at other people as fixer-upper projects instead of either tolerating and accepting them as they are or continuing to look for the person who is actually best-suited to us? I have a few theories; and, let me also add that I have been guilty of this, as well, so this discussion is as much a cautionary tale from a place of experience than judgment.
Do we fear we will never meet “the one,” so we latch onto “close enough,” then hopefully we can manipulate and nudge him to be what we want?
Do we fear that a guy amazing enough to meet all our requirements would never be interested in us, so we go find someone who is willing to take us as we are with the intention of coercing him to change?
Do we not respect our partner’s individuality and right to be who he is, and assume our need to make him dress better, set higher goals, or want what we want out of life supersedes his?
Change is inevitable
All of us grow, develop, try new things, and evolve over a lifetime. If we attach ourselves to a mate when we’re still young and un-established, it stands to reason that we will still mature and fine-tune our identity and personality as we go. For instance, if we meet “the one” while in college and still living the dorm life, it’s reasonable to think that we will go on to appreciate more refined things than Ramen noodles and bunk beds.
If we change, or our partner changes, it’s not necessarily a bad thing; however, there are both positive and negative reasons to change. Changing one’s schedule to be more conducive to family life or giving up a bad habit to decrease the risk we pose to the ones we love are admirable reasons to change.
Feeling that we need to alter our appearance or personality to be what someone else wants or to earn their love and acceptance is very concerning! We should not allow the essence of who we are to be sacrificed for someone else, any more than we should expect them to do so for us.
What do we expect to get?
If we coax another into becoming something that was not in their nature to become, how can we be surprised when we later find that we don’t really know who they are or we’re not compatible?
If we persuade someone else to adopt new behaviors, preferences, and a lifestyle different from what they were on the path toward, can we be surprised when they eventually become so uncomfortable in the new identity we helped craft for them that they eventually buck against it to try to become their true self again?
The downside of fixing a mate
We may think we’re getting the perfect man by making the one we have change, but it’s a short-sighted solution to a deeper need. We won’t be truly happy in a relationship until we’ve addressed our own needs from within ourselves. Then, when we are in a relationship, we cannot expect our partner to become something they’re not to better match our expectations. Doing so is engaging in a fake relationship. He’s only playing a part to appease us, and we’re only in love with the image of what we think we want.
If only he grew up.
If only he got serious about a career.
If only he stopped doing all those things we find annoying.
If only he wanted the same things out of life that we do.
Does he expect you to change the way you talk, dress, and act? If so, find someone who is into you for you!
If we find ourselves wishing he was this or he was that, we need to explore why that is? Is it actually something about us, and is it something we can’t live without? Would we still love him even if he didn’t change, and is it even fair to try? Maybe the real answer is that we don’t belong together and we have no business trying to coerce someone to be something they’re not to please us!
A relationship built on appearances, not substance, will eventually crumble. We will either attempt to build a future on fantasy, then be disappointed when it’s not made to last, or we will find ourselves living with a stranger, and be disappointed when we don’t really know them. In either case, we will be disappointed, and time will be wasted with a person who was likely never right for us. If we feel someone should change to be our perfect mate, it would serve us well to first look within and to ask serious questions about continuing with the relationship