Single Women: Do Not Try To Change Him

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A bit more on the general subject touched upon with yesterday’s, “Stop Wasting Time Looking for Mr. Right.

If you’re a single woman, a good thing to understand about any man with whom you’re thinking about getting more deeply involved or even married is that men don’t change. They are who they are. Love and accept the man you’re interested in as he is, or move on.

If your potential life-mate possesses a quality that you don’t like—a habit, personality quirk, major behavior tendency, political philosophy, whatever—then you need to ask yourself whether you can live with that quality, or not. If not, then move on to bachelor number two; bachelor number one isn’t your guy.

When it comes to figuring out if you can live with your man’s problematic quality, ask yourself this: Does that quality offend your values, or your taste? If stuff he does, says, or thinks run contrary to your values, then that’s a serious issue. But if what he offends is your taste—if in effect he simply does things differently than you’d prefer him to—then probably not so much.

A value difference could be a deal breaker. But a style difference shouldn’t be.

Let’s say you love a man who is a motorcycle enthusiast. You’d rather he didn’t ride a motorcycle, because it’s dangerous. But is riding a motorcycle a values issue, or a style issue? Though a case can be made for it being a values issue (since for the sake of our loved ones we should all remain as safe as possible), it’s primarily a matter of style, insofar as knowing that a person drives a motorcycle tells you nothing about that person’s character; it’s something they do, and no indicator at all of who they are. So as a problem, you’re going to have to let go the fact that your man drives a motorcycle—or you should at least be a lot more willing to let that go, to accept that quality of his. Because the bottom line is that he does ride a motorcycle. That’s who he is. There isn’t a different man inside of him who doesn’t ride a motorcycle, a man that you can somehow get to replace the man you know. Though it may sound harsh, that your man rides a motorcycle is your problem, not his.

You can’t change that about him. Your choice is to either leave him over the fact that he rides a motorcycle, or embrace it as part of what makes you love him so.

The choice you don’t want to make is to try to change whatever problem you have with your man into his problem, by complaining about it, or trying to make him feel guilty about it, or (even) crying about it. Sure, at the time you do those things, a guy may respond to the emotionality of the moment by saying (and perhaps even believing) that he will change. But he won’t. Because once the drama has cleared, the truth of who he really is will begin to reassert itself, and he will begin to think that you don’t actually have a right to tell him who or how he should be. And as sure as one day follows the next, he’s then going to start resenting you for trying to make your own will his own.

And as likely as not, he’ll then start lying to you. He’ll start sneaking doing whatever it is he does that you don’t like. And then you’ll “catch” him doing that thing.

And there you’ll be, stuck in that nasty little loop in which so many couples do get stuck, where the woman’s either constantly nagging at her man to stop doing something he keeps doing anyway, or is deeply upset at discovering that her man’s been lying to her about something he’s been doing all along that he’s not “supposed” to be doing at all.

Avoid that trap forever, going in, by realizing that you’re supposed to love your partner for who they are, not for who you want them to become.

The thing is, persisting in trying to change your man is guaranteed to transmogrify you something much more akin to his mother than his wife. And then he will turn into a bastardized version of your son. Tell your man he needs to eat more vegetables, and as sure as the day is long he’ll start sneaking pizza.

Yech.

Life’s too short. You want a man, not a boy. Successful relationships are built on mutual respect, not the kind of co-dependent, mutually dysfunctional craziness that necessarily develops whenever one person in a relationship is convinced that they know what’s best for the other.

Be prepared to take and love him as he is, or move on to someone you can.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Yes, yes, and yes.

  • Don Whitt

    There's that old joke about the newlyweds walking out the church after their wedding, smiling…

    He's smiling because he thinks she'll never change.

    She's smiling because she thinks he will.

    Compatibility is about values ALIGNMENT.

    Family

    Children

    Money

    Religion

    Work/Play

    Health

    Politics

    And how someone dresses or what kind of car they drive isn't a VALUE. But, more and more, people are obsessed with and picky about style-related stuff. There are entire TV networks dedicated to nothing but style. But that's all materialism and very transient.

    Who's gonna love you when you're incontinent in your designer jeans, baby?

    • Don Whitt

      I left a BIGGY off the big list o' values: Sex. All joking about headaches aside, if your libido outpaces your partner's by too much, or vice versa, someone's going to feel abandoned and someone's going to feel pressured all of the time. Not good.

      • Elizabeth

        True that. Maybe the most universal value issue, too. A specific couple may choose to not have children. They may not think a lot about religion or be so healthy it doesn't concern them. But 99.9999% will have to deal with sex.

  • Robert Meek

    Another issue is this "I love you, but I'm not 'in love' with you," and/or "I thought you were my 'soul mate,' but apparently, you're not."

    This, from someone who admits they (A) like you, (B) love you, (C) trust you, (D) are happy with you, BUT … they are "…not 'in love' with you," and/or go the "soul mate" excuse.

    Sigh. Been there, received that, found out it is an absolutely deal breaker. Once your "other half" goes there, they dwell on it, obsess about it, and you need to face it that they are NOT your "other half," and you need to end it if they won't, and they won't. Because when they DO end it, they will be dramatic, demonstrative, hysterical, hostile, and make sure it's all YOUR fault.

    Been there, received that, too! Stupidly, more than once.

    • Tim

      Whoever dreamt up the whole “soulmate” scenario should be forcibly raped by demented Hobbits.

      • Robert Meek

        Oh, a tad rough, don't you think? In reality, we seem to have bought, hook, line, and sinker, the myths of Tinsel Town (aka Hollywood), that "having a relationship" and "being in love" and "being married" means "happily ever after," etc.

        Now, mind you, I do believe marriages can work, be happy, and endure.

        But the missing component from all of this is that RELATIONSHIPS TAKE WORK.

        LOTS of work.

        HARD work.

        DEDICATED work.

        Work that is COMMITTED to it, because it is a NEVER ENDING PROCESS of VERY HARD WORK, to make relationships work.

        And all far too easy to take a quick exit out, and believe the lie that somewhere over the next rainbow you will meet you "one true love," and that since this other one REQUIRED such HARD work that it is OBVIOUS that THAT one was NOT your "one true love," etc.

        Oy vey.

        Anyone got an extra barf bag? I'm making myself very queasy.

        • Tim

          Yes. I'm being harsh. I'm just bitter.

          • Robert Meek

            @ Tim It only eats away at you, man. Been there, done that. You have to let it go, not for their sake, but for yours. I let it take me down a dark path of seething rage and almost didn't get back.

            Nothing to be gained from bitterness. The one who did to you doesn't care. They have no remorse, no conscience. If they did, they wouldn't so such to you. But if you let it eat away at you, it accomplishes everything such a person would ever set out to do to you – it destroys you.

            Been there, done that, and had to do a lot of hard work to reverse it.

      • amelia

        "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." ~ Aristotle

        • Elizabeth

          All the sturm und drang above only to find ourselves in this lovely oasis of a quote. Amelia, thank you.

      • Ace

        Rape jokes = not funny. Just so you know.

        • Robert Meek

          Ditto. T'was what I meant by "Oh, a tad rough, don’t you think?" but I was trying to be well, tactful. My bad. Should have been braver.

          Brave is not automatically rude, as you so well just proved.

          Thanks, Ace!

          • Elizabeth

            Yeah, ixnay the rape jokes. I would have been all over that, but I was trying to be more *ahem* tactful than yesterday, so I funneled my distaste into the little song-and-dance about Plato's soulmates instead. I was relieved when Robert and Ace stepped up.

            Not that I make the rules, but I would also skip so-called jokes about wife-beating ("to the moon, Alice!"), hitting children upside the head, and dog-fighting.

        • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

          Actually a joke about being raped by Hobbits is hilarious. It made me lol. It is obviously not real since Hobbits don't really exist. I can see how a religious person might have a hard time with that particular distinction.

          Grow a pair and stop being so sensitive.

          • Diana

            Actually, one doesn't have to be a religious person to be offended by rape jokes. Most feminists find such jokes to be offensive and feminists aren't necessarily religious people.

            What I found to be somewhat interesting is that you found the remark "Or everyone can be gay. That's the most obvious solution," to be "seriously ignorant" but you think a joke about being raped by Hobbits is "hilarious." I found both remarks to be somewhat questionable myself, but let it go because I figured other people would call out the authors if there really was an issue. Curious how each of us arrives at his/her sensibilities, don't you think?

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            And William: Just for fun, you should probably, every once in awhile, let slide ONE opportunity that occurs to you to bash people who believe there's a God. Just once. Give it a try. See how it feels.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Point taken

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            Nice. Thanks.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Sorry, it's just so terribly silly to me, I have a hard time remembering that some people really believe this stuff. Sometimes, I think many of you are just faking because it sounds so implausible that no one could really believe it.

            But then I am reminded that it's not just a joke. Sorry to offend. I get carried away trying to entertain myself and forget about the feelings of others.

          • DR

            I'm fine if you think a faith in God is silly; hopefully those of us who do invest that way aren't relying on anyone else's opinion for validation. Though it's odd to me that you spend time with women but wouldn't comsider a joke that includes rape to be a trigger or at minimum, pretty unfunny (men are raped as well, declaimer). I would check in with women you trust, feminists or not. Their answers may surprise you.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Many of them have worse mouths than me. They are all 20 something, punk rockers for the most part. I have heard many jokes from them that would offend you to your core.

            I think this is more of an age and culture issue than a male/female thing. You and I are from different worlds. Mine is much more fun than yours.

            I must clarify that I don't really think rape is funny, but I can laugh about things depending on the context and what was meant. No need to be offended about off color or insensitive jokes.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            William: as unkeen as I am on wading into this, do let me ask you an honest question: Has any woman close to you ever been raped?

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Just 1 as far as I know. I see where this is going and I think I will move on to more interesting conversations.

            Geez, this is becoming one of those huge deals.

            Not everything is a moral issue. Sometimes, a joke is just a joke, even if it offends some people. The funniest shows I've watched are also the most offensive. You have to choose to have a sense of humor or not.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            Ely: You know me well enough to know that if there's one thing I understand and love, it's the funny. Though I know it had to come out sounding that way, I didn't mean my question to you as anything resembling an accusation. I'm genuinely interested in the role experience plays relative to the perception of humor. The dinky little hypothesis I had in mind there was that it was virtually impossible to actually know someone (let alone be someone) who was raped, and ever again think anything having anything to do with rape was vaguely funny–that the word itself would forever be purely repugnant to you. But apparently that isn't the case with you; apparently someone you love was raped, and there are still iterations of jokes involving rape that make you laugh out loud. Fair enough. I really was just asking. Thanks.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Okay, I see where you are going with that. I just choose to not be offended. I grew up with a religious mother who is always offended about everything and that attitude makes me want to vomit.

            If the joke was about a man raping a woman then I see nothing funny about that. But when Hobbits are involved, you cannot really be offended unless you just like being offended like my mother does. It makes her feel righteous to be offended about everything.

            You must not play video games John. Gamer lingo is full of rape and sodomy jokes. Like I said before, it is about simple cultural differences. Where I am coming from mentally is different than where you and most of your readers are coming from.

            Context and meaning are the key to off color and insensitive humor.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            Trust me, William: You have no idea where I'm coming from.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            No, I don't, but it is not the same place I'm coming from. I did not mean to imply anything aside from that simple statement.

          • DR

            Dude.  Chill. No one is making this into a massive thing, it takes me 30 seconds to dash off a drive by thought.  You're just being challenged a little bit (another form of entertainment).  You've got a very pre-defined view of who Christians are and how much fun we have, so who cares?  I dont, opine away it makes no difference to my life.  Honestly.  I said what I said because there are ton of atheists in my life (of all ages) who'd give a fairly sound verbal beating to those who include rape in a joke.  I'm a fan of the dark humor so i get what you're saying, but our society is getting a bit more thoughtful as a whole about how jokes trivialize some very bad shit.  It doesn't mean we can't laugh or are forcing everyone to listen to Pedro the Lion as we read sensitivity manuals.  Can I get an amen?  (Now that was funny).

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Yeah, I see what you are saying. I happen to think the pussification of our society is a big problem for freedom, but that is a different issue altogether.

            I did not even make the joke. I don't feel challenged, I just don't want to waste a lot of time on oversensitive people who choose to be offended. Most things are a choice, you can be offended, you can laugh or you can not do either of those. Just don't try to make it a moral issue, because it is not. Nothing is so sacred that it can't be made fun of.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            Ely: For your Facebook profile name you chose "Unholy Black Death"; today on your FB page you've bragged (re: what you've said here on this blog), "I just pissed off like 20 Christians. My job is done"; and on your Facebook page you yesterday proudly uploaded photos of "Random Hot Chicks." Do you think maybe it might be time for you to, just an eensie-teenie little bit, grow up? What are you, twelve?

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Do you not enjoy hot chicks? I am single and enjoy looking at females. Unholyblackdeath is an old leftover from my gaming usernames from high school. It does not mean anything.

            How does any of that spell immaturity to you? I don't get it. I do things I enjoy and I live my life for me.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            Yeah, that's fair. Youth does have its own rules. I think I assumed you were older than you are. But … never mind. Carry on. None of my business. (I wouldn't mind if you cut down on the "Oh, boy! I'm pissing off Christians" thing, but … whatever.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Sorry, just thought it was funny and had to share with my RL friends. You were not meant to read that, I forgot that you could see it too. Surely you understand how much fun you guys can be to us outsiders.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            Ely: You said, “Surely you understand how much fun you guys can be to us outsiders.” Surely you understand how telling someone that the only reason they don’t think rape jokes are funny is because they’re Christian, and then making fun of them for being Christian, makes you seem like a complete dick.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Yeah, I did not make that clear John. I don't think it is because you are Christian, but because this site is Christian themed. Some of you who claim to be offended are only making that claim because you know other Christians are watching.

            Christians just have that offended frame of mind in general. On any non religious themed site, the Hobbit comment would have not even generated so much as a reply, but as you see here, on a Christian blog, it stirred up offense.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            @ Ely: "Some of you who claim to be offended are only making that claim because you know other Christians are watching." Wow. Arrogant much?

            "Christians just have that offended frame of mind in general." Wow II. Stereotype people much?

            Later, kids. Gotta get some work done.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Yet it is proven true everyday by Christians and Muslims getting offended about what others say and do. The way to get rid of a stereotype is to not fit into it.

            All I have to go on is my experience.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            And what's your experience been with me? You've been reading my blog for a long time now. Do I strike you as close-minded and easily offended?

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Actually not at all.

            Many of your readers act offended, but now they are saying they were not offended, so I don't know what to think of them. Either they were confused or they are lying.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            Ely: “Many of your readers act offended, but …. Either they were confused or they are lying.” Well, good for you. You’ve managed to claim that the efforts of those trying to communicate something real to you is proof that those people are either idiots, or lying.

            Your work is done.

            Alllll right, now! I’m outta here for real this time!

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            I get so frustrated because I try to explain myself and you guys run in the opposite direction with what I say.

            I don't know how to speak so I can be understood but without offending here. It seems impossible. The differences are so basic and ingrained that they cannot be overcome

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Dude, when someone makes 2 opposite claims in the same conversation, they are indeed either lying or confused. That goes without saying.

          • DR

            Who is pissed? Are we pissed? I had no idea, I’m currently sipping a cocktail on a deck listening to music. I really need to cultivate more awareness of my emotions.

          • Elizabeth

            Children avert your eyes. For the second time in as many days, we're gonna have some adult time.

            I'm OK with nothing being so sacred that it can't be funny. Did you see John's posts a month ago on the website that dressed up the crucified Jesus as a a bondage gimp? Now that was funny. You know why? 'Cause God is big enough that he can take it. You aren't going to hurt his feelings. He has a massive sense of humor.

            What's not funny is picking on those who ARE weak and sensitive and in desperate need of compassion. That is a moral issue. If you don't have morals, try faking a minimum of socialization.

            I'm sorry that I'm not suitably offended about your coining the word "pussification", but I've never identified with that word. No one who actually knows what to do with a woman would mistake that part of her anatomy for a docile house pet.

            What I have rhymes with "hunt". It's Anglo-Saxon, with all those yummy aspirate consonants, like d*** or c*** for men. You know, almost like it's equal. It doesn't lounge around waiting to be fed or stroked. It's quiet yet direct, forceful yet sweet.

            Your prejudices about Christians, morals, or society could be about to change. This ain't your grandma's Sunday school. This is John Shore's blog. If you dare to stick around, you might learn something.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Rawr!

            lol.

            Fair enough, consider me chastised. It is just a saying and I did not coin it myself. I have nothing against morals, I’m just against making everything a moral issue. I have been following this blog for awhile and it is often good fun.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            You know, that’s interesting. (By which I mean Ely’s “I’m just against making everything a moral issue.”) Because I have a personal, private opinion–one, if I can say it, honed over a long, long time–that, in fact, everything is a moral issue.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            I disagree John. Sex for instance, is not a moral issue as long as it is consensual and between adults. That does not harm anyone, so no moral issue.

            Making everything a moral issue takes the living out of life.

          • DR

            Ely, I'm not stirred up. I'm bored waiting for the crab cakes to come. And a little tipsy. But I know you need to believe that you're the Man who's blowing our gingham bonnets off with his casual edgy dialogue which is a little pathetic, but its our nation's birthday for God's sake! So im going to grant you this boon and try to work up a little defensiveness.

            One other thing: here's a website with primarily younger non-religious women. Why don't you ask them what they think about rape being a funny joke? Seriously..
            http://community.livejournal.com/prochoice/

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            You misunderstand me.

            To me, when someone claims to be offended, they are stirred up. If you did not claim to be offended, then I am not saying you were stirred up, so no reason for you to state otherwise.

            Again: context is everything so if I just came out of no where with a rape question, of course the response to that would be negative. You can't make this a broader issue. It was one comment, that was obviously not really about rape, so getting upset was just stupid. I am not even the one who made the joke.

            Is that clear now? I'm not sure how many different ways I can say it. If the point has not been communicated now, then you are not going to get it at all.

          • DR

            I think you are creating a narrative of a) what people are actually feeling and b) thinking in order to continue believing what you do about Christians to think you’re stirring shit up. Which again, go for it, it’s kind of wasted energy but it’s probably better for you than a Red Bull. But I think you’re perceptions are a bit off.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            When you spend so much energy saying something is wrong, you are stirred up. If you weren't, then there would been no comment. The only perceptions I have of your feelings are those you show me.

          • Elizabeth

            Just assume that any time you comment, I'm somewhere in the background saying, Amen.

          • Elizabeth

            Y'all know this is in response to DR's comment at 12:56, right? Who am I kidding. No one else is paying attention.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Right back at you, E. :fabulous hair toss

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Fair enough.

            Allow me to explain.

            The above joke is not really a rape joke because the persons supposedly doing the raping do not exist. It makes it different for me. Elves or unicorns or angels would do the same thing for me. I can laugh about the joke because it is obviously an unreal situation not to mention the mental image of short stubby Hobbits trying to rape someone, lol. Things that are not real should be disregarded. I often have a dark sense of humor myself so I can relate to this joke.

            On a side note: I could not care less what feminists think. I pretty much only hang out with females (being rather feminine myself at times) and none of them approve of what feminists are doing.

          • Elizabeth

            I admire your attempt to justify this with a little intellectual slight-of-hand. I mean, you have to take a shot, right? I get that.

            So I'm going to let you choose which one of two ways we blow a hole through this logic.

            Number one is the "real life" example. That's where I say that people don't spend that many hundreds of millions of dollars to see movies about characters that they don't identify with. Identification is the process by which those characters onscreen become vessels for the emotions of the audience. It's not rocket science and it's not new. It goes back to cave drawings and Dionysion rites. They become symbols of our humanity. Whether or not that fulfills some literal definition you have of "reality", you can't just disregard it.

            Number two is where we play a little Socratic dialectic game. If your hypothesis is true, we can substitute examples and it will still ring true. So, if making jokes about nonexistent things being raped is funny, let's try a few.

            Rape a fairy.

            Rape a teddy bear.

            Rape Bambi.

            Well, it's conceivable, I suppose, that none of those got an ew reaction out of you. I have to take your word for it. But my hunch is that you had a second of "yuck" before you caught it and drowned it with cool or sangfroid or detachment. Whatever the kids call it these days. That's why, when you describe your responses above, you talk about "making a choice" to laugh or be offended.

            Try listening to yourself. If you have to process and rationalize it, it's probably not funny.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Very interesting point. I have an explanation for you, I think.

            I did get a “yuk” reaction over the Bambi one, btw.

            That does not take the comedy factor away from it however. Take Family Guy, South Park or American Dad as examples of inappropriate humor that should not be funny but they are. I love those shows. They make me laugh and I don’t feel bad because I know no one was really hurt.

            I’m not sure I can make this point clear or not, but that’s the best I can explain it. Comedy is relative of course.

          • Elizabeth

            Thanks for admitting you were grossed out by raping Bambi. I'll admit, I thought of that as kind of my ringer.

            Man, I hope someone ten years from now doesn't take that out of context.

            I have a boyfriend, so I confess to having watched a ton of Family Guy, in particular. Some South Park. American Dad is really more of a copycat phenomenon. Sometimes, I enjoy Family Guy; I think for me it depends mostly on which writer gets the most gags that week.

            I studied theatre for more than ten years. I was a member of SAG; I made serious dough before I was 14. Later, I was a professional dancer. All of my friends are some kind of artists: painters, writers, musicians (or teachers–totally throws off the curve.)

            I understand and value the freedom of speech and expression. I don't want to hide from uncomfortable ideas under the guise of my religion. (And I am a Christian and a frequent commenter here. Don't want you to think I'm just the wildcard they trotted out to play with you.) I get that taboo and comedy are bed-fellows, and I certainly don't want to legislate art.

            But just because I defend your right to be an idiot doesn't mean you should be. My rule of thumb is, if a stranger said this right now, and I didn't know whether they were serious, would it turn me off? Would they take a comment of mine and make a judgment of me I would think was undeserved?

            You have to remember that a blog is not a video game or a TV show. Just because it's made up of pixels doesn't mean there aren't real flesh and blood people on the other end. That's why, although I always find rape jokes unfunny, I find them unacceptable here.

            Having a laugh feels good. It doesn't feel as good as finding an opportunity to lift somebody else up. I remember instances where someone stepped out from a group that was mocking me, or something important to me. They didn't even have to say anything. Just make eye contact. A little nod of the head that said, I feel you. Once you start looking for them, those moments are all around. Maybe you don't know how much power you really have.

            Too preachy? Heck, I can't even believe John didn't moderate my "rhymes with hunt" comment. You may find baiting the Christians fun (and yes, I think that's a really crap attitude anywhere), but this place is different. Don't make assumptions about what John and his commenters are doing here.

          • DR

            Ely, I can only speak for myself but you are confusing "offended" for "concern that jokes re: rape are often a trigger for rape victims".  It is such a common courtesy online now a days that I was surprised to see it.  

            You are trying to fit everyone in to your boxes based on what you believe. If your mind isn't open to being wrong, then the narrowness within it is the problem. Not our alleged lack of humor..

             With all due respect, educate yourself a little bit on rape triggers – google it, even.  Don't listen to us, but listen to somebody because it's this kind of cavalier attitude that might get your ass kicked by someone's drunk boyfriend in a bar (I've seen that too).  And that would suck.

            Oh yay, food is here.  Later gator! 

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Lol, okay buddy. I don't believe anything. I think some things, but I never believe. Don't confuse opinions with beliefs.

            Its been awhile since anyone has kicked my ass, but it has indeed happened due to what I have said. I was a defensive end in high and a piano mover for 6 years after that so most who try do not succeed. They would need to be sober.

            You make something out of nothing. Like I said, I was not the one who made the joke. Are you having trouble reading today?

          • DR

             William (sorry I've been calling you Ely this whole time), if your ass got kicked, its because you served it up yourself.  

            You proactively entered this conversation imposing your own moral code- in this instance, what people should or should not be offended by- the moralist here is you, most of us have already expressed we said something out of concern that rape victims might read that and trigger.  You wanted to believe something differently.

            Then you got busted for bragging on hour Facebook, and now you're just lashing out implying  you're misunderstood when you expressed no interest to step out of your preconceived notions about christians to consider you might ve dealing with something different here. Consider opening your mind or it not, developing a thicker skin if you are going to engage people who will actually be honest with you.

          • Elizabeth

            Mmm. Crab cakes.

          • DR

            Most of those I know aren't religious and don't find rape to be funny in any context.

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            Its not a rape joke, it's a Hobbit joke, lol. You are just arguing for the sake of argument here. There is no way anyone was really offended by this joke. I regularly hear much much worse every time I go out. You can't really be that sheltered. Come on now, move on to more productive threads.

          • Elizabeth

            Are you kidding me? This is like Christmas morning to me. You know, only secular. I'm not going anywhere.

          • denver

            OK, I'm posting here because I just read through the whole slew of back-and-forth comments.

            On a side note @William, I have to say, if you know women who don't care about feminism, do they want to go back to the days where they were not allowed to vote, hold certain jobs, where it was illegal to get an abortion under any circumstances, etc.? I think if there are women who write off feminism, they are either part of the "submissive women" movement, or they are buying into the modern-day bastardization of the term "feminist" to mean "harpy" – like the Rush Limbaughs of the world saying "feminazis". I recommend the book "The F Word", which is exactly about this subject. Anyway.

            I am not easily offended either, and I do enjoy South Park (I consider South Park to be Equal Opportunity Offenders, and you can't laugh when they are making fun of everyone else's group and then get offended when it's your group (coughIssacHayescough). Though I don't like the crass, gross moments on the show, I like when they are smart and making social commentary). But you are being a little generic, here. To say that xtians don't game (you claimed it was gamer culture) is like saying that xtians don't watch TV – most Americans are xtians, and most Americans play video games or have played video games – at least from gen x and younger, I'd say. Likewise, our country is very "sexed" and again, most Americans identify as xtian in some form or another, so you can't say that xtians are all prudish, either. Have you ever seen Shane Dawson on YouTube? That kid is the most perverse, sexed up person (sweet, but perverse)… and professes how important his faith is to him. You can be perverse and xtian. But yes, rape victims can be triggered by all sorts of things, even the idea of rape by fantasy creatures (who are essentially short humans, so not such a stretch, btw) (and how many people have fantasies about sex in fantasy settings)? I know you didn't make the joke, but you have been defending it the whole time by saying that there is no way anyone could be offended by it unless they were posing to impress their presumably proper xtian peers. That is unfortunately not how a rape trigger works for victims – they don't choose what things remind them of a horrific experience, it just does, and even they sometimes will say "I know this doesn't make sense, and I can't explain why, but… " It's just courtesy to not make such jokes. And yeah, the South Park episode where they were saying that Indiana Jones was "raped" by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas because the new movie sucked probably triggered quite a few people, too, and though I am not one for censorship, I do wish there had been some kind of warning at the beginning of that one because it did run over the line at breakneck speed and probably upset more than a few people whom it triggered.

            Saying that it's perfectly OK for people to make rape jokes and that there is no way anyone could be bothered like that is the same logic that people use when using the term "gay" in place of "lame" – straights may think it's just an adjective but the gay kids in those classes who are hiding in the closet may be cringing every time they hear it and crawling deeper into the closet because they don't want to be made fun of by their classmates who use their orientation as a pejorative. You personally may not think it's a big deal but it does bother some people. Maybe you think those people are over-sensitive, but it's not your decision how other people feel. You don't know their circumstances and what made them sensitive to a particular thing. Someone who has been harassed for their race for their whole life will be more sensitive to race jokes than someone who never faced discrimination. Someone who has been raped will be more sensitive to the suggestion that someone should be raped, even by fantasy creatures, then someone who has no idea what that is like.

            I know you didn't MAKE the joke, but can't you accept that some people are going to be upset by it without further making fun of them for it? That's all I'm saying.

        • Elizabeth

          @William Ely and @denver:

          Right. Feminism. I definitely see both sides of this one.

          My mom didn't have me until later in life. She was out of school before hippies, black power, and feminism. She was already married and established when all that hit the fan. She is still in mourning for the opportunities she feels she missed.

          Meanwhile, my generation of women was perhaps the first to see the female equality movement as passé. We looked around at sky-rocketing divorce rates, mothers dull-eyed and exhausted from juggling home and family, and our own MTV and latch-key existences and said, what's the big deal? Why should I want to do that?

          To stir the pot more, I went to Sarah Lawerence, arguably a "lesbian utopia" (NYT) and undeniably the most expensive college at that time, during the Dark Ages of political correctness. I attended a gender and sexuality course ruled by a cadré of shaven-headed lesbians who insisted that they would abort any male child and only accept their female children if they were gay. Horrible, venomous diatribes of hatred that definitely turned me off from the Womyn's Movement.

          (To be fair, the professor, though gay, was never less than just and egalitarian. It won't surprise anyone that I grew my hair to my waist, wore dresses, and had a boyfriend the whole time in order to rebel. As William stated earlier, context is everything.)

          So when I was William's age (maybe a couple years earlier, but girls mature faster than men :-)) I definitely did not identify as a feminist. Then a funny thing happened. Many of those hate-spewing womyn fell victim to the stereotype of the 4-year lesbian. They found men, made babies, and moved to the suburbs. I have no problem with that lifestyle, for the record. I just have a problem with hypocrites.

          Meanwhile, I discovered the silent double-standards that still exist. The women I worked for often over-compensated for their femaleness by being shrill and manipulative. Yes, women were allowed to be sexual or career-minded or tough, but they still got called names behind their backs. Media and advertising also thrust their expectations of how flawlessly women should look and act into the mix. Yet, women in more traditional roles of wife and mother felt ostracized, too.

          So I picked up the gauntlet. It's not about trying to beat men at their game, like it was in the 80s and 90s. It's about valuing the unique strengths women bring to the table and doing it on their own terms. It's not just about a glass ceiling; it's windows and doors–options. It's not "better than." It's trying to get to a permanent state of "equal to." As long as we prevent the law itself from stepping backwards, I think that is a path we will all find in our own time.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            And ladies and gentlemen, I invite you at this time to bear in mind that Ms. Elizabeth Fullerton types her comments to this blog on a small, cheap cell phone, with her thumbs.

  • Elizabeth

    @Beth Luwandi: I think you're right. John has a knack for giving advice people can actually hear and follow. Particularly women (I am one.) That's one of the reasons I was curious.

    He's a damn good writer, so I don't think it's an accident. As @Robert Meek said, it seems to affect both genders. That's my experience, too. Is it because John thinks it's an audience more in need of the advice? (Which is kinda one of your points.) Would the advice be significantly different if he were talking to someone else?

    I don't know how to make it any clearer that my intent was not to bash anyone. How many qualifiers do you need? So I'll just go with this: if I wanted to be a *bleep*, I would not need to ask leading questions to do it. Not "yet" or at any other time. I'm good like that. And I'm more of a 140-on-the-Autobahn-with-the-windows-open kind of girl. :-)

    • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

      Hi Elizabeth! I know you weren't being snarky at all. I get impatient sometimes watching the comments snake into something that's not even grounded in the original text– not that it has here, but has many other places. Sometimes I can sit back and just be interested.

      And what am I saying anyway? My husband is really one of the most critical people I've ever known. I used to think this was about me. If I paid attention to it, I'd think he expected me to change!

      He isn't fertile, won't dance— two HUGE disappointments. But, ironically, his critical nature is the only thing I'd change about him. (He's lots of other kinds of wonderful.)

      And I am so jealous about the Autobahn. Best I can do is 125 in a V-8, open highway in Mexico. And I was driving, won the race. (Not proud there were twelve youth group kids in the van and two regional missionaries) But we all cheered! :)

      • Elizabeth

        @Beth Luwandi: I love that you won the race. Even with the missionaries! Total props for driving in Mexico. Only two places ever made me pull over and give up: Mexican highway and downtown Florence.

        That time in Germany was especially awesome because it was this crappy underpowered Opel, and I was keeping up with all the high-end BMWs, etc. I was only 21, so the rental company wouldn't insure me. As soon as we left the parking lot, my mom tossed me the keys anyway, and I drove from Belgium to Italy and back. The reason I remember that number is because my mom made only one comment on my driving during the whole trip.

        She looked over, turned pale, and said, Do you know how fast you're going? I said, Yes. She said, In miles? I said, Yes, about 140. And that was that. Although I later discovered that she described me as a New York taxi driver with PMS in all her postcards home…

        Nice to meet another Beth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

    Great post!

    This why I generally consider relationships to be a temporary arrangement. I have no wish to change who I am. I have my own money, my own apartment, my own style and my own values. I don't have to worry too much about what values my partner has, because it is rarely an issue because we don't live together and will not be getting married. It is a much less stressful way to approach the situation. We both get what we want and no one has to change.

    I will not be changing for any woman or man who I become romantically involved with. That's just silly. Hopefully I will accidentally stumble across a "keeper" one day, but not anytime soon.

  • Tanager

    The only change I'd want to make (if it were necessary) would be to get him to put the toilet seat down. The lid would be icing on the cake, but I'll settle.

    Sure, I won't love everything about "my man" (should I find myself in a relationship) but chances are he's not gonna love all my quirks, either. A little bit of "live and let live" can go a long way in preserving a relationship past the idealistic stage :-)

    "Don't go changin'…."

    • amelia

      Gotta love Billy Joel. :)

      • Robert Meek

        @ amelia Oh, you've done it now! Shame on you :(

        I iz gonna hafta drag out my old stereo, and my dusty LPs of Billy Joel, including his "Piano Man" album, and go down memory lane today!

        What music! What talent! What an era! What memories. Sigh! ;)

        • amelia

          @Robert, I'm sorry you went through all that muck in your past relationships. You sound like you've learned from them and remained cheerful all the same. The funny thing is, after two marriages, raising three children and a lot of faith, I am still learning/growing. It seems like I have finally found a safe place to just be myself without all the "change" that my former partners insisted on. But to be honest, I had hoped that my second husband would've changed, too. He chose violence and manipulation to deal with challenging situations and that was something I didn't know going in. Let's hope from here on out God surrounds us with kind people and strengthens us to be the same. :) <3

  • Ben

    I was married for 10 years to a woman who wanted me to be somebody else. I nearly lost every passion in my life, trying to be the man she wanted me to be. This was both our responsibility, but eventually I left, we divorced, and that was very difficult for the both of us and our children. There's WAY more to it, of course, but from my experience, john's just communicating advice that can be beneficial to both men and women based on objective truth.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you, John (and Robert Meek and Beth.)

    I thought it might be as simple as the cumbersome nature of gender pronouns in English. I totally feel that quality in your writing which seems trustworthy to youngish single women. Once again, I am one, and I do. Y'all don't think I bother getting this worked up on any other blog, do you? Not worth my time. (Maybe if you start a petition…)

    I would not (and don't think I do) accuse you of stereotyping. I know you sometimes have to use a broader brush; you can't be stumbling over all the exceptions all the time. There would be no room left for you to SAY anything. That you manage to tackle such sticky issues as elegantly as you do (and make it look easy) is a marvel.

    It's been suggested that I bash or attack you twice now. (Last time I checked. Texting all this takes TIME. And I have to do it all at one go.) I don't see it. I tried hard not to do it. I think a dispassionate review of yesterday's comments might reveal an intellectual conflict, not a personal or dismissive attack. It was an intense conversation about emotions that rarely get honestly discussed.

    I disagreed with one small detail of a comment. I had a different point of view. That happens — and SHOULD — between thoughtful people. It was a spirited exchange. At least, that's what I was going for.

    It is clear I failed. I'm sorry I was too strident. I love that other people feel as fondly about you as I do and rush to your defense. Look around and you'll find I've done it a few times myself. Please forgive my getting carried away.

    'Kay?

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      It's no thing. You're allowed to have any problems you want with anything I write, of course. There's certainly no worries about that. Besides, you've been a great friend to this blog for quite a while now.

      • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

        Oh, wait: now I remember. You know what confused me a little? You've written before (with your amazing eloquence) of how much you thought of my (long) piece, "Seven Reasons Remain in Abusive Relationsips." As far as I know, you love that work. Yet your objection to my piece yesterday seemed to be that I'm fundamentally unqualified to give advice to single women, because I'm not a single woman. But I'm not an abused woman, either. So that … lost me a bit.

        Anyway. Whatever. One thing about doing a blog is, yesterday is GONE. I have no idea what I wrote on this blog two days ago, or any day before. It just … leaves.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      Elizabeth, you're one of my favorite participants in this blog. The challenge with communicating online is people fill in all the gaps that are generally filled with actual presence, and all that comes with it.

      Yesterday's thread was odd, only in that it seemed so many of the counters to the original post referenced points that John wasn't even saying (I'm not even sure what was yours or someone else's). I remember thinking, "This issue is so intense, some people are reading things that aren't there. Are we reading the same things?"

      What was also a little weird were the objections to a man even writing about such things -a married man – as though a married man couldn't relate to any of the topic at all. For me, all of the issues that both men and women face are so universal at the root – loneliness, sex, desire, fear, the power of romantic validation – that was hard to understand. It may manifest itself differently in each sex, but we all have all of that going on. I think it takes a very particular type of man to be able to speak to what women face – and I don't believe he will ever be able to get 100% of it – but it seems reasonable to imagine a man whose paying attention to the world around him would get a good deal of it.

  • http://www.RealHope.com Marc Sadoff

    Men marry women hoping they never change…They DO.

    Women marry men hoping they'll change…. They DON'T! The skill and awareness to develop is learning the difference betwee Toxic Hope & Real Hope.

    • Don Whitt

      I've often wondered why we parents don't train our offspring about choosing mates the way we would train them in anything else – like table manners or driving. This topic is somewhat about creating the right opportunities, but A LOT about being a good "picker".

      The instructions I got from my father were something like, "Some day, some cute little thing will look up at you, bat her eyelashes and that'll be it."

      Perhaps the most important decision one makes in the life reduced to a single sexual impulse.

      So I talk to my son, who's going through his own sexual awakening these days, as honestly and openly as i can (and he can stand), listen, and try to make sense of it with him, but all the while make sure that he knows it's an intellectual process as well as an emotional one. That he is in control of his choices and that they're important.

      Being married/in a relationship is hard, but not nearly as much hard work when you choose wisely.

      • Don Whitt

        And for me, 3rd time was the charm …

      • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

        Yes, this is the thing I really pray my daughter hears and understands when we talk. And she’s on the verge of making this decision, or thinking she’s making it….

        • Don Whitt

          Hands together, fingers crossed…

    • http://steveinmarines.blogspot.com steve

      Or everyone could be gay. That's the most obvious solution.

      • Don Whitt

        That certainly worked for my ex-wife…

      • Robert Meek

        @ Steve Oh, I do hope that was merely a lousy joke of poor taste. :/

        At worst, to some, it could be a very negative comment. It certainly would be erroneous, when it comes to accuracy, since, as I've already stated in other places here, and based on my own personal experience as well, gays are very capable of this kind of manipulation, and control, etc. :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

        Yeah, that was a seriously ignorant comment.

    • http://www.RealHope.com Marc Sadoff

      I was a bit flippant in my earlier comment about men not changing. It's a pithy, while somewhat descriptive, phrasing. I want to emphasize that people CAN change. Since men are a subset of people, ergo… they can change also. The point I was wanting to make is that being able to separate the 'toxic hope' from the 'Real Hope' is often hard to do. And then, even having determined that one is in toxic hope, then acting from that knowledge is yet another difficult, if not seemingly impossible challenge.

      BTW John- Your article about "7 Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships" was excellent. It was the reason I found your site and why I keep coming back here. You have a good non clinical, jargon & psychobabble free style of presenting this important information!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Marc: Thanks very much for your endorsement of "Seven Reasons…". I know you work in the field of mental health, so I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

  • Tim

    I agree wholeheartedly. But it is also true that spouses DO change. And not for the better a lot of the time. FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE didn’t just end up in the traditional marriage vows for shitz and giggles.

    • Robert Meek

      The only thing here is that they change not because they are spouses, not because their spouse changes them, but because they WANT TO CHANGE.

      Yes, people CAN change, but ONLY if they WANT to change. THEY have to make the change happen.

      Be it good change, or bad change, we change because we allow ourselves to change.

      Culpability.

      I think that's the word, right? Um….no. I guess accountability, then.

      • Tim

        Culpable, accountable. They both work great for me. I would add that even WANTING to change isn't always enough. If I want to change because I'm afraid my wife will divorce me, I may change. But I believe change based on fear will usually lead to resentment, mistrust and eventually rebellion. Perfect love casts out fear. As a married couple, if I fail to love her, it's because I can't love myself.

        Ah now I went and made it all about me. I'm such a….MAN!

    • JohnB

      Apparently I've found a new button. How cathartic! :)

      Yea, who cares that staying together means that you will be setting a TERRIBLE example of how to behave in an adult relationship. It may ruin the kids' ability to have good relationships, but you kept that vow!

      Yea, and when you find you married someone who ends up being a danger to your children, just stay with her. No sense in making new and better decisions when you have new and better knowledge; it's the vow that's important!

      We have to think about the lives that are impacted by our decisions. The vow assumes reasonable situations. I'm gladly taking the hit for breaking my vow, and my only regret is that I kept trying in vain to fix a non-recoverable situation for ten years longer than I should have.

      I'm thinking about changing my name to "Bitter much?"…

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Uuuuuum. I’m telling. You said “giggles.”

  • Elizabeth

    Some questions. They are not snarky or rhetorical.

    Why is this addressed to single women instead of men, or both? Because it’s a continuation of yesterday’s post? It makes a snappier headline? Do you feel better qualified to give advice to one gender or another? Or do you think the advice is markedly different for each?

    I have no preconceived answer. It’s not a trick. I’m honestly curious. And of course, whoever wants to jump in, the water’s fine.

    • Robert Meek

      Well, if it helps you any, Liz, I'm gay, and my Significant Others who put me through that were men. 3 out of 4, to be frank, used some variation of those words.

      "I love you, but I'm not in love with you."

      "I thought you were my soul mate, but obviously your not."

      And my real favorite was the nauseatingly magnanimous "It's not you, Robert. It's me." Got that from two out of four of them. Like hearing that made it better. Right. It didn't go down any better the second time, either, BTW.

      Men do it to women.

      Women do it to men.

      (Gay) men do it to (gay) men.

      The only ones I do NOT know about are – lesbians. But I suspect they do, too.

    • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

      May I?

      It's addressed to single women because they are the deluded fantasizers who actually believe men will change– with enough time, enough love, enough "encouragement."

      Men generally don't make this mistake. They might make others. But women make this kind of mistake.

      I'd even venture to say John's speaking to women because he actually thinks someone might listen to him… instead of bash him for making a suggestion he might know something about.

      Not that you've done that yet.

      I say learn to enjoy the motorcycle. They're freekin awesome- especially 98 miles an hour on the smoothest highway on Oahu.

      • Robert Meek

        Everything is relative. One can grant that women might do it more, but even your sentence admits that men "generally" do not make this mistake. There are no absolutes.

        Perhaps men (and we are referencing straight men for this comment now), do it in a different style, at a different level, but I can well believe that men might idealize what kind of woman their woman should be/is, and the big difference is they might not try to change her, but instead of accepting that she's a GOOD woman but not their FANTASY IDEAL, they bail on her.

        How about that – theory?

        • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

          good theory

          and probably a smarter response than investing scads of energy trying to get her to be the ideal

          agree?

        • Diana

          Based upon my own experience and what I've heard from other people, I think a man is more inclined to just walk away when a woman turns out not to be what he desires, whereas women are more likely to stick it out and try to change the guy. I could be wrong, of course.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      It's my experience that women are typically the gender that believes men (or even other women if they are gay) will change. It seems like most men enter marriage or long-term relationships wanting nothing to change, and women often want lots to change. Of course, I'm referencing my long-term healthy marria– oh wait, I've no clue what I'm talking about here (but it is an observation).

      My mom gave me some very wise advice; picture the man you're with. Now take whatever bothers you the most. Now triple it. That's marriage. If you can't take the x3? Marry him. If not? Don't.

  • Elizabeth

    @Tim: I have many holes in my education–the 20th century, for instance–but the source of the soulmate I've got. I checked the basics, but the finer points I'm remembering from a Philosophy of Greek Tragedy lecture. Please bear with me.

    It is from Plato's Symposium, presented by Aristophanes (based on an actual Greek comic playwright, so consider the reliability of the speech.) In his story, humans are two-sided: 4 legs, 4 arms, 2 faces. Zeus got irate, as he tended to do, and split them in half. Then he threatened to do it again, which would have resulted in four pieces, each with one arm and leg. Think of the kind of romantic mess we would have made from that–four compatible spouses.

    The obvious problem is that this myth has everything to do with craving completeness and becoming a whole person, and nothing to do with romantic love. Instead of tragic, the image is funny–all these disconnected legs pogo-sticking around.

    From there it gets corrupted into what you recognize today. Some bits are in Theosophy–androgynous souls split into male and female, and a flame–and the Karmic idea that two halves find each other through different lifetimes. I don't know. It sounds to me like the kind of crap the Victorians would dream up, but that's just me.

    I got amazing grades in philosophy considering that I never bothered to read Plato. A professor told me to read as if I were dancing and I just gave up, so this is hardly a scholarly synopsis. Matthew Tweedell will probably show up now and quote Ancient Greek. But I did think you deserved some sort of answer–anyone willing to use a Hobbit as a weapon over the issue must need to know.

    • kim cohn

      Aristophanes, Aristophanes oh yes, I remember where I heard about him – The Pirates of Penzance!!

      I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's;

      I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox,

      I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,

      In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous;

      I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,

      I know the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes!

      • Elizabeth

        @kim cohn: I cannot properly convey the joy I get from your Gilbert and Sullivan reference. If you tell me you quoted it from memory–even if it’s a lie–I may develop a full-on girl crush. Thanks for brightening my day! (This is basically a cut-and-paste from below, but I really wanted to "nest' this comment.)

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Kim Cohn is a guy. He's been a very close friend of mine for some 20 years now. I think this is the third comment he's ever left on my blog. He's a retired chemistry professor who taught at California State University at Bakersfield for, like, 35 years. He's a dork. I'd tell him you have a crush on him, but the thrill of it would kill him.

          • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

            This is the funniest thing on the comment thread

  • Elizabeth

    Oh, I don’t like how my previous comment looks at all. Like an interrogation. I’m curious about those questions because I agree completely with what John stated. So much so that I wonder why it isn’t presented as universally true.

    • Robert Meek

      See above reply to your NON-interrogation. :) ;)

      • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

        Is the "doing it" you are referring to "try to change" the partner by coersion, nagging, emotional hysterics, or any other means necessary? I think the post said, do not expect your man to change. Take him as he is or do not take him at all. Am I confused here?

        • Robert Meek

          Well, I certainly got that from my partners. Emotional hysterics, coercion, manipulation, control, and flat out betrayal and lies. Attempts to make me act, do, be someone I was not.

          It started early on, and only worsened as years went on, with #1 (of 4).

          Admissions that my odometer was checked behind my back, to see if I'd driven where I said I had driven to, hysterics of "I might as well get used to it, because you're going to do what you want to do!" about my merely window shopping at the mall, literally that.

          And so much more.

          I countered that I did nothing wrong, so I had no reason to not do what I was doing, and that he could come with me, but refused to, to the mall.

          I added that the last time I was accountable to another adult about where I went, etc., was while I lived under my mother's roof, and as we were in my apartment in my name, now, I was all for courtesy and respect, but not having to be held accountable like a child.

          Mind you, he knew I was at the mall, I told him that was where I was going. He was invited, refused to go, and wailed hysterically as duly noted, above.

          SIGH!

          • denver

            Hi Robert: re: you earlier question, lesbians do it, too. LOL ;)

          • Robert Meek

            Well, I suspected such, but as my experience with lesbians is highly limited, not including my bar-hopping days with Ex-number-one, that is, talking about actual friends, I can count 3 lesbians in my entire life, none of whom I have seen or heard from in years or decades. I would hardly consider that an adequate representation of said population for me to draw such conclusions from, so I considered myself – an uninformed novice on that matter.

          • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

            That does not sound like fun. Sorry you went through it. :!

          • Robert Meek

            Oh, I'm not! :) It was a lesson in life, for sure. Seeing "red flags" right in front of my face but ignoring them, etc. Very educational, to say the least.

            It wasn't all bad, nothing ever is, most of the time, except the most wretched of abusers.

            There are GOOD memories, there, too.

            It's just hard to know if they were authentic, or if it was all a con. Yea, I know, a long winded con of many years.

            Suffice it to say that after 3 years, he detoxed from drugs (including acid and cocaine) which I hadn't known he was on, and his bizarre behavior changed.

            We ended up happy, for 10 years. But preface to that, he said those first 3 years were "all a lie" just him "being a drug addict doing whatever he had to do to get what he wanted from me" – etc.

            Major blow.

            At 13 years, it exploded, in ways not printable here, suffice it to say he digressed into darkness, those last 2 years.

            Blinded as I was, driven by one thing "I'll do anything to save the relationship!" I told myself, friends, and him.

            I couldn't see that it was already dead.

            End result – he left on the DAY OF our 15th anniversary "Happy anniversary to you, too, for whatever it's worth. I'm leaving you."

            Six months later – HIV.

            Ah, but OLD OLD OLD newz, that.

            Like 2001 & 2002.

            I look upon all of it as a Life Lesson now.

            Just not sure if the "good" stuff was ever authentic, or not.

            Never will know. Not from one who bragged "I'm a chameleon, I'm all things to all people," was very arrogant, admitted it, and was PROUD ABOUT BEING arrogant.

            Ugh.

            On a bright note – a latter conversation on phone went like this HIM bragging: "I'm still the same old arrogant a-hole that I've always been, Robert!" ME: "Well, let me tell you this, you wouldn't like me, now!" HIM: "Why do you say that?" ME : "Because of whom I've become. You made me. I wouldn't put up with your S@^&*T for a second, now. I'd tell you were to head in at so fast your head would spin!" HIM: "Good!" ME: "Yea, you say that now, an hour and a half away from me, but you know D&*(@N well that you wouldn't like it, face to face!" HIM: (Silence.)

            Bull's eye!!! Bingo!!! Hit the nail on the head, I did!!! :)

          • http://www.facebook.com/unholyblackdeath William Ely

            There is no way that you can be with someone who is on acid and cocaine without you knowing about it. Unless you just never saw him. Those are 2 very obvious drugs, nothing subtle about them. 1 look into a person's eyes is enough to know for sure, even if you've never done them yourself.

          • Elizabeth

            @William Ely:

            Dude, you have no idea just how good an actress I was.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            But when you're high, you always think nobody can tell.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            These nested comments are crazy confusing. I'm thinking about just going back to the old way: last one at the bottom.

          • Elizabeth

            Point taken.

            And yeah, I like the flow of the nesting, but you're also wasting a lot of desktop real estate once you get a couple levels down. You know, when I can see it at all.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Is there a way to change it to perhaps limit the levels of nesting to maybe 2 or 3 instead of 6? Because I, like Elizabeth, like being able to read responses right below the thing they're responding to but agree that when you get out to the level of these comments right here, it just overcomplicates things.

          • Elizabeth

            Matthew! Did you see me name-drop you? I meant no disrespect…

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Of course, Elizabeth — Βλέπω ἅπαντα. I didn't find it the least bit disrespectful — simply flattering, as usual! :)

    • denver

      I was going to ask the same thing, because it holds true for men, too. I promise you, you are not going to change the values of a woman who doesn't want sex into someone that "puts out." For example. :)

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      @ Elizabeth: I really, really did almost write this piee for anyone: married, single, guy, woman. Two reasons I didn't: it's very, very much harder to structure the actual text of a piece like this if you try to, as you go, bear in mind and address universals. You just get lost in a morass of pronouns and qualifiers. Whereas if you strip it down to a specific party, and a specific dynamic, it becomes something that … well, that you can write in one or two hours instead four or five.

      Mostly, though, I wrote it as I did because it really is meant as a complementary piece to yesterday's. I wrote both pretty specifically to young unmarried women, because (thought I know YOU might have a hard time believing this :-) ) I have a fair number of them as readers (especially over on Crosswalk.com). And I'm … almost embarrassed to say they do sometimes look to me for … certain kinds of input along these lines. They kind of trust me, because … I don't know. Because they've read my stuff, and they figure I'm a guy who … seems to know guys.

      Also, my wife and I know a LOT of single women, who tend to get in one pretty long-term relationship after another. And almost always they end up deeply frustrated because they guy they're with is … well, the same guy he was when they met him the year before. And somehow they thought that being in a relationship with the guy was going to morph the guy into someone they liked BETTER than the guy they started dating. (I'm writing fast here; I hope that made sense.)

      You know me well enough to know I'm hardly into stereotyping. But–and feel free to attack me if your experience in life has led you to a different conclusion–GENERALLY SPEAKING women are much more inclined to go into a relationship thinking that being in that relationship will CHANGE the man she's in it with, than a man is likely to expect or want the woman he's involved with to change in any significant way.

      Women (sometimes) try to change their men. Single women seem to me more inclined to think along those lines; married women tend, in fairly short order, to know better.

      • typoqueen

        If you hadn't just claimed authorship, I would have guessed that someone else had written today's post since it was lacking your usual heavy dose of wild exaggeration along with self-deprecating and arrogant (at the same time!) humor that I find so delicious. (Tuned in last December and haven't missed a day since.) Even though this is a serious subject, I've watched you slather on the funny with other serious topics. This one was just beautifully written… the absolute definition of succinct. As Elizabeth says below, "He's a damn good writer,".

        Your motorcycle analogy was perfect but in my case with the tables turned. I'm the one who learned to ride two years a go at the age of 53 and when I ride I feel happy, healthy, challenged, connected to the world instead of hiding out in my house like a mouse, actually having fun. It's as though I finally learned my own middle name. (Or should I change my name to" Addicted to Wind"?) I think this falls under the values heading rather than style. It feels very elemental. But my husband has taken to belittling me about the subject. Even though he has his own motorcycle he is always too tired or it's too cold, hot, windy, late, etc. to ride. At first I thought I was trying to turn him into a man who LIKES to ride but now I realize that I'm okay even if he sells his bike and never rides again as long as he stops making fun of me wanting to ride every day. Or, perhaps he's imagining that I'm trying to change him so he's fighting back by laying guilt on me. It's not as though I'm neglecting my housework or meal prep so why is he threatened? Meanwhile I'm just longing for a little praise from him for learning in the first place, (it does take a fair amount of skill and courage).

        So, assuming that matters of value can arise after the vows are spoken, how do you handle change deep into a marriage?. Or how do you tamp out the burning resentment?

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          I'm in a bit of a hurry just now, but you might something in this older piece of mine that you can transfer into/onto your motorcycle / husband dynamic: When Your Husband Derides Your Faith.

        • Don Whitt

          Sometimes people need to have something that’s just theirs – not something they share with their partner.

          I’m not saying that’s good or bad, by the way.

          But you may have taken-up something that was “his” and now it’s “yours” and he doesn’t want any part of it anymore. In fact, he probably resents you a lot for the intrusion. You are now competing with him in a sense. Once again, I’m not saying this is good, bad or even rational.

          I’ve been on your side of the deal once and the response and resentment that came my way blew my mind. I saw a chance for intimacy in an arena we both loved (music), but she saw it as an intrusion into her space. She actually quit wholesale rather than have me as a collaborator.

  • Ace

    Hmm… I do have friends whose boyfriends have tried to change them, A LOT. What they wear, where they go, who they talk to, even what they eat ("you'd be so much prettier if you lost a few pounds! Don't eat that chocolate cake!"), trying to turn them into what they feel is a "perfect mate" at the expense of their freedom and autonomy. Guys can be *very* controlling and manipulative, it's a stereotype that women are the only major offender on that front.

    You can complain about pronoun issues but I think this article would have been more effective targeted at men and women, not just women, because by aiming an article at women and justifying it by saying "it's the women who do this!" you really do come off as stereotyping, sorry. There are plenty of us women who know full well that other people are ultimately going to do whatever they want to, whether we like it or not, whether we're in a relationship with them or not.

  • Gina Powers

    Hey John and everybuggy! John, you're going to fall over, but I'm totally with you on this post. And am happy to report I've got a guy who pretty much accepts me as I am (referring to Ace's post)…..except for maybe occasionally making a minor fuss about how I park the damn car….but even then, do you think I actually LISTEN? ;). Kidding….anyway….oh yeah, John, please write another God post soon….I could use a shot in the arm. Thanks, bro!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore
      • Gina Powers

        Hey hey, thank you! That's one of my favorites! Btw, bro, your stuff goes real well with Rock Radio….have your blog up here in the studio!

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

        Wow. Loved this, just what I needed today!

  • Jill

    My favorite piece of advice regarding the choosing of a marriage partner came off a starbucks coffee cup. In fact, the advice ON the cup was far better than what was IN the cup. This isn't verbatim, but, it's the general idea – "When you marry someone, you are choosing the set of problems you will have for the rest of your life. Choose a set of problems you can live with."

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    I love this post. ITs something that I have always told myself I "knew" but something I didn't actually apply to my own life, costing me and my Ex years of pain and suffering. It went both ways for us — there were things about him I just assumed would change for the better someday. I assumed he wouldn't always need to flirt with other women, have lots of female attention. Wrong. I assumed he would get the help he needed for his mental health issues and he would get better. Wrong. I assumed he would become helpful and give me more assistance with the house and yard once he understood how much effort I was putting into them. Wrong again. In fact, these issues only worsened over time, and I wonder if it wasn't in large part due to me relentlessly hammering on him about his behavior.

    He assumed at some point I would stop bringing home every stray animal that crossed my path. Wrong. He assumed I would give up traveling for work just because he wanted me to. Wrong. He assumed my impulsivity would magically dry up and disappear. Wrong again. And his anger over these things let me to start being sneaky and lying to him about them.

    Its really sad how much I can see in retrospect that we were truly incompatible.

  • Elizabeth

    @kim cohn: I cannot properly convey the joy I get from your Gilbert and Sullivan reference. If you tell me you did it from memory–even if it’s a lie–I may develop a full-on girl crush. Thanks!

  • Susan Golian

    I married my husband knowing full well what he was/is and I "got" him – his very "Steveness" tickled me. He had some bad leftover habits from his first marriage (really sneaky about going to Vegas, etc.), but after several years he finally understood that I hated the phone call from Zzyzzx Road on Friday night because it left me few options for socializing. Now, 22 years in, he's finally working on the pack-rat thing and he's coming to church with me (could somebody give me an "amen!", please) – things I've wanted a lot, and let him know, but generally didn't nag about (OK, pack-rat stuff yes, but never nagged about church – it's too important!). To paraphrase Mick, I'm getting what I need! Thank you, God, for all these good things for all these years.

    • amelia

      John, thank you so much for writing 'When Husbands Deride Your Faith.' It made me cry. That was me and my children 10 years ago. Now we can live our faith in peace. And I hope you write a book about this topic as it should be required reading for anyone considering marriage. Y'know, a short, few chapters on choosing wisely and what could happen if you don't, that pastors could hand out after their marriage classes, etc.

  • Diana

    Re: Elizabeth's explanation of her stance on feminism–I think you did a great job of speaking for those of our generation regarding feminism and the pros and cons. I especially enjoyed the remark about it not just being about the glass ceiling but about windows and doors–options. Also what you said about getting to a permanent state of "equal to."

  • Elizabeth

    @Diana (7/2, 2:22): You know I value your opinion, but I'm especially gratified that you recognized your own experience in what I wrote. That last paragraph just burst out of me. I'm glad it makes sense.

    Reclaiming the label feminist feels a little like deciding to call myself a Christian. It's a weird experience, both exciting and humbling. You realize, one day, that you can't criticize what others do in the name of Christianity or feminism unless you're willing to own up and live it differently.

  • Sarah

    Question: Were you also referring to annoying habits such as leaving dirty clothes on the floor and leaving the toliet seat up?

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