“Men don’t change. They just learn to disguise the lack of change.” ~David Gemmell
Ladies, remember when you first started dating your man? You thought, “he’s a pretty good man, but he could be a pretty GREAT man if…” and then you thought of all the (subtle) ways you could change him to make him into your perfect representation of MAN. If you tweaked a little, nipped a little, and tucked a little, he could get there, and be worthy of you.
Then, like a miracle, like turning water into wine, it happened. Little by little you noticed the changes that you had set in motion. Bit by bit you saw the shining specimen of a man who had come through the fire, forged like newly burnished steel. And you danced the Macarena with your girlfriends, believing that the almighty had blessed you with what you’d always wanted in a man.
But you celebrated too soon. As time went on you realized that all the “changes” your man went through weren’t really changes, that he had simply learned to hide those “rough spots” from you, dressing them up like wolves in sheep’s clothing, so that you would stop harping on him to change. If he pretended to change enough you would believe he had, and leave him to his own devices.
And you fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. It’s not because you’re dumb, either. It’s because you wanted to believe in it more than kids want to believe in Santa Claus. It’s because you thought if your intentions were pure and true enough that positive things were bound to happen. That was your first mistake, because, ladies, despite the best of intentions, you can’t change men.
I don’t mean that a man can’t recognize his issues and learn to work on them, but he has to do it on his own. It can’t be because you said he needs to do it, no matter how subtle you thought you were being. A man wants to feel like he’s in control, and the biggest thing he can control is himself. He doesn’t want anybody else (not even you) making those decisions for him.
Oh, and you’ve heard all about people playacting, being on their best behavior, to snag the “catch of the day.” Once they’re married, though, their true colors show out. Well, that works both ways. It’s not just women who stop going to the salon once a week, who put on a few pounds. It’s not just women who now use the bathroom with the door open and ruin the mystery. Men do the same thing. But it’s not that marriage makes you suddenly care less about your appearance. It’s not that he’s somehow changed. It’s that he’s let you more into his world.
That’s what love does. Love can do an awful lot, but what love has never been able to do is change a man. It doesn’t work like that. Love can help a man see shards and pieces of himself that were always there but he had never noticed them before. Love can assist in giving a man the confidence not to hide his true self anymore. But love can’t change a man, not any more than a woman can. If it’s in his DNA, it’s in his DNA, and I don’t mean from the genes he’s been handed down. I mean that joint venture of nature and nurture working together to form and shape him, and once he’s set, he’s set.
I love it when I see a woman’s status on Facebook saying something like, “A man changes for the right woman.” This presupposes that there is one woman for every man, that when a man meets his soul mate he will automatically change who he is to make her love him, or to earn her love. A man should change for himself, not for a woman. Remember that if we don’t learn to love ourselves first, then we are no good for anyone else.
You really can’t change men. That’s a fallacy that has existed for millenia because we judge, because we can’t let people just be themselves. If you love someone for who they are, why should you want to change them? And if they are working to change themselves who are you to judge the way they are doing it? I know that for myself when it was time for me to address my issues and change it was only me who could pull the trigger, who could do what was necessary because I saw it for myself. That’s the only way for you to know that it’s real.
And if you find out he’s been pretending because he knows it’s important for you to think he’s changed, just remind yourself that it was your own mistake for thinking you could change him. And hope he has the strength to want to change himself. For himself. You just might have to wait for it.