It’s the same old song and dance. You get married or you get into a partnership/relationship of sorts, and as time wears on, there’s often this one statement that pops to the surface:
“I don’t like X or Y about you…I thought you would be different…”
“I wish you could change…I love you but, X, Y, or Z is driving me nuts…”
Sometimes, the person wants you to change something small that is possible for you to do, and at other times, someone might ask you to change something about yourself that is inextricably linked to your personhood, and impossible to be divorced from.
Or maybe you are the culprit. Maybe you want your partner to change something that is impossible for him or her to change.
Broadway shows, self-help books, and tons of comedians have deal with this topic: I love you, now change, Bitch.
It’s almost as if the things we once found attractive about someone become offensive and scalding to our sensibilities. Or our partner starts to become so skeeved out by the things she once really liked about you. Maybe it’s because opposites attract…to a point. At some point maybe they simply just repel? Maybe opposites work until the orgasms stop coming so quickly, or when things get stressful? Does this mean opposites can’t work? No, I’m not saying that, but the question is: why do people start to want their partners to be different? Why do we expect or ask others to change? Why are we suddenly bothered by something in our lovers that didn’t bother us before?
I suspect that this desire isn’t that you didn’t love or don’t love the person per se, but maybe we change…and as we change and grow, our needs from a person changes, and therefore what we once found cute/sexy/attractive becomes no longer attractive anymore. Suddenly we need something different. Well isn’t that a bitch, because you choose someone based on who he or she was when you met that person.
Example: If your husband is a sullen guy and you were into sullen because it was during your emo stage, well don’t be pissed that he’s still crying into napkins and you’re over emo and into something else. Now you want a funny guy. Well guess what Ex-Emo chick? You picked sullen dude. He can’t change. Sure, he might be able to crack a smile or attempt a knock-knock joke, but don’t expect him to be Happy Dude. He’s sullen guy.
Or perhaps your wife was a loudmouth when you met her. Perhaps she was a big loudmouth who liked going out and partying. Don’t expect loudmouth party chick to all of a sudden become the Martha Stewart your mother has been hoping for all these years.
The fact is, relationships are so hard because we change as individuals over time, and all you can do is hope that both partners grow at a suitable or similar pace to each other, towards each other.
Maybe you want religion in your life and you started out in your relationship as an atheist. Maybe you were a sexually shy and permissive type and as you got older, you came into your own and now you want more of a variety from your partner. Maybe your partner was a quiet type who often let you lead things/plans/life, and now he or she has grown more confident and wants you to hold back while he or she lets rip.
There are so many different scenarios that follow couples on this journey through life that it makes monogamy, marriage, and coupledom so very hard. The traits you once loved from someone as your partner may not be the same traits you like when that person becomes a parent with you…shares bills with you…and daily bullshit with you. Everything is romantic when it ends either at midnight or the next morning as you do the walk of shame home. Nothing is romantic when it is in the morning, on weekends, at night, and all day, every day. It is work. It is a job, and if you don’t like this particular job, it’s one you ought to quit before everyone is miserable.
I think it’s also easy for us to assume that our partner would just change if he or she loved us enough, but that’s bullshit too. When I think of who I am as a person now and reflect upon who I was at age 6, guess what? There are a lot of similarities. I’m still outspoken, sweet, and friendly. I don’t wet my bed anymore, and I have grown more anxious over time, however, that core individual still exists. I will always be sensitive. I will always be outgoing. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t things I can change about myself, but that I have accepted that there are some things that won’t budge.
When it comes down to core personality traits, your partner will not change. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Sullen Dude will not become Happy Dude unless Sullen Dude has been depressed for a particular reason or just temporarily been sad. If he has always been sullen and subdued, this will not change.
If you want someone to kick a bad habit, work on compromising more, listen more attentively, or try to pick up after him or herself, you can probably find success, but if you want someone who is different than the person you signed up for, you need to leave.
Life’s little BS’s change us as well. Happy Dude may become Sullen Guy after losing a job…or experiencing a loss in the family. This is temporary and can be worked through. This stuff happens constantly in relationships. It’s a never ending cycle of life’s up’s and down’s…it’s not the romantic passion you watch on television. Getting someone through a rough period is worth it and mandatory if you want to be in a committed relationship. Expecting a guy who has refused treatment for his depression is whole life…is not something to be worked through. That’s something that won’t change until he wants it to.
My message is simply, if you are unhappy and want your partner to change, ask yourself if this is a trait or situation that has always been true for your partner, or is just a temporary state? Is this a lifelong trait, or a bad habit? How eager is the person to change? Am I asking too much? And then, look at yourself.
Are you happy with yourself? Is there some thing or things you need to change? Why do you need your partner to be different now? What are your “new” needs?
These are all some of the questions to ask yourself before expecting the person you’re in bed with to metamorphis into something else.
Remember folks, Disney is a fantasy. Prince Charming might have one ball, no college education, and a stubborn streak…Cinderella might not be a virgin, a good cook, and a vicious tendency to throw things.
Life is messy.