As you all know by now, I love discussion. I spend so much of my time talking with friends and coworkers or writing about love, dating, being single, relationships: the stuff of life! I want to lead a fun and exciting life, a much talked about life (even if I’m the one talking about it).
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine who is married. She was telling me that when she met her husband, she started making deals in her head with herself. She was going to give up a few of her vices, etc, etc, and she was going to start wearing matching underwear. She thought that she was bargaining with the universe in order to keep him, but really she was just trying to become her best self because she felt that he was worth making the effort for. Now I totally understand wanting to put in the effort with matching underwear. In my head matching underwear worn not just on special occasions is an endeavor of a well put together, sophisticated, confident woman and I keep telling myself that I will start coordinating my intimate apparel asap but that is still pending . . . As far as my friend was concerned, these were just guidelines that she was giving herself, not something that she was using as a selling point or conditions that her future husband (unknown to either of them) was putting in place for them to be together. We are all works in progress, we all have areas that need developing and there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself whether it be just for you or because you meet someone that makes you want to strive to do better. That’s called growth. But what about when it’s not a bargain with yourself but with someone else even when they don’t know they’re making a deal? What if change is your selling point? What happens when it’s not growth, just bullshit?
I work with a woman, let’s call her Receptionist Rita (yeah I know, awful nickname), who’s in her 50s. She has been dating a guy for about a year now and they seem to be at an impasse and she’s just not sure that they’re going to make it. Her man-friend can’t figure out why the relationship hasn’t progressed more while she feels that they need to re-evaluate because she doesn’t think that where they are as individuals or as a couple is what she had expected. One year ago Rita met a male smoker who had just been diagnosed with diabetes (sorry I work with almost all women older than me – middle aged problems). Smoker Sam told her that he was in the process of quitting and that he had no intention of being on diabetes meds for long ~ he was going to start eating healthy, exercising and just working on taking better care of himself in general. Receptionist Rita was smitten and they got serious fast. Fast forward one year: Sam still smokes and his blood sugar never quite made it’s way down anywhere near the normal range. Sam’s cash flow is pretty strapped due to the cost of cigarettes and insulin and he finds spending money on recreational activities and going out for meals to be wasteful. Rita has conquered almost all of her debt and enjoys being able to spend her discretionary income on life’s pleasures and is frustrated listening to a partner complain about the lack of his money to blow when he put himself in this position and could get out of it if he put in the effort. Sam is upset that Rita doesn’t want to find a place together (because she doesn’t want to live with a smoker) when she knew that he smoked when he met her. Rita feels like Sam sold her on something that he didn’t live up to. She fell for the bullshit! She didn’t fall for Sam, she fell for who Sam told her he was going to become and then he never turned into that person.
We’ve all been there (I think), we’ve all heard someone tell us what we wanted to hear and believed it over what was real. Women, especially, constantly debate whether or not it is possible to change someone (men). We often wonder if the charming slacker, irresponsible or untrustworthy guy is going to step up to the plate if we place our faith in them. Ladies, we do it too, we tweak ourselves to try and fit what we think our love interest is looking for. My married friend had an ounce of BS in her story: her husband is Jewish so she was going to give up bacon and pretend not to even like it. I’m guilty of it as well, the last guy I dated told me that cigarette smoking was a turn off so I omitted that from time to time I will have a cigarette while out drinking. I took him out to meet my friends and when they went out to smoke, I acted like I had no interest. If he happened to go to the bathroom while they were outside I would peek out the door jealously at what I felt I was missing out on.
I’ve been on the other side of it as well. I have definitely been a victim (probably a self-imposed victim to be honest) of the bullshit. My ex whom I dated for seven years didn’t want to get married or have kids. I spent a long time thinking about whether I would be ok forgoing all of that to be with him but I realized that wasn’t something I was willing to completely discount from my life. I once mentioned our relationship having a bit of an expiration date on it due to my wanting the option of having a family. He got upset with me and the idea that I could just casually mention that I would be leaving him eventually (in my defense, ummm not causally – we had been discussing it for YEARS!!!). I pointed out that he didn’t have much ground to stand on as he had made a decision about all of this long before he ever met me and I didn’t factor into it at all, nothing about his plans for life and the future had evolved due to being with me. He told me that he would think it over and see if he was willing to consider us having a family. I really thought that I had made major headway and that things were going to change but nothing became different. I don’t think he actually ever put the thought he said he would into it. It was just a selling point to get me to stay.
I think that the right person for you won’t need to sell you on something that isn’t real. They won’t need to change. You won’t need to either. If you’re more interested in being with who you think they could become, walk away. Find someone who you want to be with as is, someone that you would be perfectly happy to have in your life just the way they are because you think they are as good as it gets. Then if you find that the two of you grow and improve while together: that’s wonderful but not absolutely necessary. Growth is great, growth is natural, growth is important. But just remember. Don’t fall for the bullshit.