After a recent exchange with ‘Bob’, I knew it was time to write about this topic. Bob shared with us a week ago that he was back with his ex-girlfriend, who is a lovely, energetic, and sassy girl. I asked, “Bob, so does this mean you decided you love her after all?” (Bob broke up with his girlfriend in the first place because he knew he did not love her and wanted to be respectful of her biological clock and not string her along.) He hesitated with a, “Yes, I would say that I do.”
Fast forward to the present where I saw Bob again. Apparently, a friend was going to set him up with another girl. Bob said, “Oh! This is awkward. I’m meeting up with my girlfriend later.” He did not say, “No thanks, buddy. I’m back with my ex.” WHAT!!!!!?????? What happened to his newfound love and not stringing her along? It took every ounce of energy for me not to find his girlfriend and tell her to leave him!
How many of you or your friends have stayed with a boyfriend thinking, “He will change his mind and want to get married.” Or married a spouse and thought, “Once he sees that I’ve gotten into good shape, he will be inspired to exercise,” or “Once we have kids, he will stop drinking?” I’ve done it. We’ve all done it.
I took a class a while back called Understanding Men, Satisfying Women that provided an amazing insight into how women interact with and relate to men and a took a deeper look into who men really are. At the end of the class, they have a volunteer panel of men who allow us to ask any question we want. They are not prepped beyond being told what the class is about and why they are on the panel. It was uncanny to see the lessons from the class unfold right before our very eyes! And yes, one of the key lessons there was that men don’t change!
Why? I found a couple of articles that shed a bit of light on this. One article, by Dr. Peter Andrew Sacco, explains why men don’t change in relationships using examples of couples who live together. He explains that men are raised to be complacent in emotional and social values and thus see themselves as fine just they way they are. Their focus is on quantifiable things like a successful career and buying his wife nice things.
I also found an interesting blog about Finding Mr. Right, where the writer reminds women that if there are traits in the man we can’t live with, it is time to move on. Of course, we can’t find someone who is exactly as we want him to be so it is up to us to determine what we would prefer not to live with versus cannot live with. If his unlikeable trait falls in the latter, it is time to move on.
I know it is difficult to either accept and stay or not accept and move on. We want him to love us more, wear better clothes, want children, and not drink so much with his buddies, but according to the research, he is who he is. Is it worth wasting your time in hopes that he will change? There are countless women I know who have stayed with a guy for years and finally had the courage to ask the important questions she already knew the answers to only to hear the response and end the relationship.
Do yourself a favor – accept him as he is or move on. If you are already married, accept him.*
*Clearly if there is abuse or neglect, I would not provide such advice.