In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to introduce a controversial subject by posing the question: Why don’t you change?
First a quick update:
“Cheating & Narcissism: Lessons from Peter Cook” –former husband of supermodel Christie Brinkley, Peter Cook told Barbara Walters on ABC’s “20/20,” that he blames Brinkley, his wife, for his affair. I join the ladies of XM radio’s “Broadminded” show to reveal the real psychological and behavioral motivations behind Cook’s affair and his subsequent actions of hurling blame at Brinkley. I also reveal the link between narcissism and cheating, and, explore the issues of personal accountability and responsibility relating to how we respond to the way other people make us feel. http://patrickwanis.com/RadioInterviews.asp
Now let’s talk about change.
In last week’s Success Newsletter, I revealed the top two causes of divorce and I said: “Please be aware that you cannot change anyone, so beware of hooking up with someone in the hope of rescuing, reforming or transforming him or her to reach their potential.” This leads to two other key points from my books, “Get the Man You Want” http://patrickwanis.com/GetTheManYouWant.asp and “What a woman wants” http://patrickwanis.com/WhatAWomanWantsBook.asp: 1. Women fall in love with the potential of men 2. Men don’t expect their woman to change and they don’t want her to change.
In the movie, “Jerry Maguire”, Dorothy (played by Renee Zellweger) is speaking to her sister Laura (Bonnie Hunt) to tell her how she feels about her boss and romantic interest Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise.) Dorothy says:
“I love him.I love him for the man he wants to be; for the man he almost is.”
What is Dorothy revealing here?
Dorothy is not in love with Jerry but rather she is in love with Jerry’s potential. Too many women make the same mistake of falling in love with a man’s potential – what he could be or might be one day. They hope the man will change and grow and evolve; but worse, they expect that he will change and grow and evolve. And then they become disillusioned and deeply disappointed when he doesn’t change, has no interest in changing or simply refuses to change.
Women are innately nurturers. And just like the gardener who nurtures the seedling until it becomes a strong vibrant tree producing delicious fruits, so too, does the woman nurture the male hoping he will one day become that strong vibrant man producing delicious fruits as he expresses his full potential.
Sadly, men generally don’t have any interest in changing until they truly need to change – when the pain becomes so strong that they realize they must change i.e. when the wife threatens to divorce her husband unless he attends counseling or changes a specific habit. And even then, the man will only change when and if he is willing and ready. And ladies, please understand that it takes men years to change, mature and evolve.
Women are often confused, disheartened and frustrated by men’s refusal to change because women love to change; they thrive on it. They are always looking for the new fashion, the new hairstyle, the new book, the new concept. If women didn’t push men, most men would be happy wearing the same pair of raggedy jeans for years.
In his famous hit, “Just the way you are”, Billy Joel sings:
“Don’t go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before…
…Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care”
Billy Joel misses two key points. First, women change for themselves before they change for their man, and second; when a man says you don’t need to change for me, he is also saying “I don’t want you to change. I expect you to be the same – forever.” Men expect women to be the same, look the same, act the same and have the same interests –forever – even after they have had children. Divorce attorneys cite this as one of the greatest complaints from husbands: “I didn’t expect her to change.”
Men resist change because they also often feel that it threatens their individuality and freedom. I am not saying men are right but I am saying that women would be better off by: 1. Choosing a man who matches their values 2. Loving the man for who he is rather than trying to mold him into what they want him to be.
In the movie “Knocked Up” Ben (Seth Rogen) is complaining about his girlfriend to Pete, (Paul Rudd) the husband of his girlfriend’s sister: “I totally know what you are talking about, man. If I wrote out the list of s..t Alison doesn’t let me do, it would be endless. Don’t smoke pot. Don’t have Samurai swords in the room. Don’t have illegal growing operations in the house. I could go on all f……day. Have I told her to stop doing anything –ever? No.”
The point here is not whether Ben is right or wrong about what he does but rather it is an example of a woman wanting to change the man as soon as she gets him, rather than simply choosing the man that matches her values. In fact, in an earlier scene in the movie, Debbie (Leslie Mann) tells her sister Alison (Katherine Heigl): “You need to train him. Oprah said that when two people meet, they should point out each other’s flaws and differences.” Alison responds with “I thought you should love people for who they are.” Debbie replies with “You criticize them a lot so they get so down on themselves they have to change.”
In real life, women know that most men refuse to change and criticizing anyone on a constant basis only leads to resentment, low self-esteem, bitterness and a very unsatisfying relationship for both partners.
So, here is my controversial advice: Women: Stop trying to mother the man by nurturing him to what you want him to be; stop looking at a man and saying “Wow, he would look so good in those pants; I’ll buy them for him and make him wear them.” Love the man for what he is now and not what you think he might one day be, for he may choose to never be that.
Men: Expect that your woman will change and evolve. Don’t expect her to wear the same dress, hairstyle and have the same body that she did when you first met her ten years ago. Embrace her change and embrace change for yourself. Be open to learning from her.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist