“If he’d just do better then we’d be good. But he flat out refuses to do the little things I ask him to do…I don’t know what to do. I love him and only want to be with him…but it’s just frustrating….MEN SUCK…”
After assuring her that men do not (all) indeed suck, I hit her with a bit of reality and a bit of indirect advice regarding her relationship and her man that I think is pretty doggone poignant:
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. You have to take folks as they are and be proud of them for making changes in the positive direction. Or roll out.
Now of course, she agreed with me in principle but didn’t get why it had to be so difficult. This man she’s been dating has been doing the same stuff for the entire seven months that they’d been dating and she’s still waiting on him to have one of those light-bulb moments where he realizes that if he doesn’t change he’ll lose her.
Except he has no incentive. Nothing that he’s doing or has done has indicated to her that anything would be any different. She just wants it to be and thinks that for her, he should make those changes. Put a pin in that, we’ll come back to that.
But the same goes for him. Nothing that has happened has indicated to him that she’s going to leave him or make him suffer any consequences. So they’re both relying on past behaviors to predict the future. For her, she just refuses to accept that he is who he is, and for him, he doesn’t believe that who he is will cause him any longterm suffering.
I do realize at this point that many women, and men for that matter, may think, why won’t he just “do right”? “Do right” is such a nebulous phrase and largely only involves actions men should be making in order to grow as people (?) and keep our women happy. I’ve got a whole theory and blog post about the concept of “do right” differences between men and women and the stakes involved. It’s coming.
I’m always amazed at how many women tell me that they can’t believe a man won’t just do better so that he doesn’t lose her. This isn’t intended to sound too trivializing, but I truly think that a lot of women overstate their own value to the men in their lives that the point these realizations arise. This man spent his entire life being who he is until she showed up and he’s supposed to see this particular woman and make every change she wants him to make? Come on. That’s unrealistic AND assumes that the changes she wants him to make are for him and not just to make her happy. Real change is personal, not just to keep a woman. I realize that, in general, women do a lot more compromising than men do. It’s true. Oh yeah, it’s true. However, you rarely hear women talking about needing to change. Just something to think about.
(Though the self-help industry is being kept afloat by somebody so I’m guessing maybe women are constantly going through “improvement”? That’s a question by the way.)
Anyway, once you realize that what somebody has always done is likely to be what they will always do short of some life-altering realizations, you learn that the ball is in your own court. Which is what I told my friend. He is who he is, either shut up about it or vote with your feet and leave him. I have no idea what she’s going to do, but she did walk away from that convo with some sort of resolve.
Of course, she could just resolve to continue to be upset. Her prerogative, but at least she realized the ball was in her court.
Granted, as grown ups we all learn that compromise is the name of the game and some of us take longer to get to that point than others do – and I’m mostly talking about men – but compromise is an outcome, I do think that you have to take folks as they are if you chose to enter into cahoots with them. Of course, that’s not for the large scale problems like infidelity or pathological lying, but if you stay with folks at that point, then while it isn’t your fault if they cheat, it is your fault for staying with them knowing that they might.
-VSB P aka PJANGO JACKSON aka MR. I DONT KNOW WHAT HE’S SAYING EITHER aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3
(A version of this post appeared on Guyspeak.com on January 5, 2013)