Thursday, February 23, 2006

This One Is For The Ladies

(Or how your boyfriend is not like the six million dollar man.)

Although I had initially thought that I would save this topic for my first book (co-authored by Rita-la-guam), I feel compelled to write this post due sheer number of times I have made have been forced to give this same advice -- this week alone. This year has been hard for my friends, I've started calling it the "dating apocalypse" in fact, since practically everyone's relationship has gone to hell in a handbasket. But I'll jump the gun a bit, giving you a sneak preview of our book which is to be called No, You Can't Fix Him.

I like to think you would find our book on the shelf next to the ONLY other helpful relationship book out entitled He's Just Not That Into You (Rita-la-guam and I had our idea before that book came out though). At any rate, both are great because you don't actually need to read the book, just the cover of the book. You ask yourself a question and simply refer to the book exterior for the answer:

Why didn't he call me?
Why didn't he ask me out for a second date?
Why won't he help me move?

The answer to these questions is all the same: he's just not that into you. See, I've never even read that book, but it's truth is simple and so conveniently located you are not even required to delve further into the book's contents.

You could also answer these questions with "Because he's a jerk," but that's not very constructive now is it?

In the case of our little book, the basic premise, if you can't glean it from the title is that men are in fact people, not projects. This simple idea completely undermines a lifetime of cultural indoctrination that women receive. For example, the theme of every crappy dime store romance novel is that a man will change for the love of a good woman (in case you've never read one of these, there are plenty of movie adaptations e.g. Romancing the Stone). Let me assure you, no he won't. Not ever.

Let's see how it works in practice. You might ask the following questions:

I hate how my boyfriend doesn't consider my feelings. Will he ever change?
My boyfriend is cheap. Will he ever change?
My boyfriend is an abusive piece of crap. Will he ever change?

The answer? No, you can't fix him.

A guy might go through something -- a death in the family, a life altering experience, or some other experience that might make him question his priorities. But I gaurantee you, you are not such a life altering experience. If he is a jerk before he dates you, he will be a jerk while he's dating you and a jerk after he dates you -- unless he decides on his own to behave differently. After you dump him he might think "gee, maybe I shouldn't be such a jerk so that a nice girl will stay with me." But if you try tell him what a jerk he is while you're dating, your voice will register somewhere between a nat and a buzzsaw in terms of annoyance and effective communcation.

So, if you are trying to make anything more than cosmetic changes, quit right now. Sure, you might be able to convince him to stop wearning pleated khakis or bizarre color combinations (no honey, forest green and teal are not a good color combination in any universe --I have actually had to say this), but you are not going to fundamentally change his personlity.

You have 2 choices:

1) accept him as he is
2) move on

Mark my words, viewing your boyfriend as a project will only result in your constant frustration. It is a sisyphusian task -- endless, brutal, and without reward. My mother has been trying to get my father to use better table manners for 41 years now. She has made no headway. He on the otherhand, in a technique worthy of CIA brainwashing, can stare at her and not hear a word that she says.

So to recap, if you find yourself saying "My boyfriend would be perfect if he would just X, Y, Z. Will he ever change?" refer to our little book for the answer: No, you can't fix him.

So we're back to why I felt so compelled to write this. I am noticing that my friends with problems are basically in two sets: my over 25 pre-law school friends, and the 25 and under set who is in law school with me.

I write this primarily for the 25 and under set right now because you are in what I think of as "stage one". You are trying to change everything. You're going for the major overhaul, the complete make over, the This Old House renovation. You're learning curve is currently the steepest, so if you learn this simple lesson quickly you can proceed to stage two. If not, you can make him crazy trying to change him until he either refuses to communicate with you (constructively breaking up with you) or he (actually) breaks up with you.

"Stage two" involves liking *almost* everything about your boyfriend/fiance whatever but you're still trying to change them just every so slightly. You're situation is the hardest because you're not trying to change "X, Y , Z" you just want to change "X". You're doing the spruce him up a bit, Design on a Dime thing. And it seems like such a little thing to change. But it's not, so you have to make up your mind if its a deal breaker. Or see result from stage one.

As my friends you are by now thinking about my love life and my boyfriends you have known, and are probably thinking "where doe she get off..."

OK, Yes, I freely admit that I have learned my lesson the hard way. How I manage to attract men who are diametrically opposed to my personality, I'll never know. If any guys read this, maybe you can answer this question: if you are a anti-social brooder, why would you ask out a girl who enjoys social interaction? I certainly have no answer other than opposites attract, but this was my first experience with learning that you can't fix him.

My college boyfriend was a brooder, a sit-in-the-corner-at-a-party, the end is nigh sort. I am generally the glass-is-half-full kind of gal. I thought my boyfriend just needed "some cheering up". "He'll come around" I thought to myself. But after three years, he didn't. I realized he enjoyed wallowing in self-imposed gloom. It wasn't merely a mood or a phase, but his outlook. And it grew seriously tiresome for me. As Morgan Freeman says in Shawshank Redemption "Either get busy livin', or get busy dyin'". To that I would add, "yeah, fucktard."

Fortunately Gloomy moved away for grad school and we didn't do long distance (he "didn't believe in it") sparing me the trouble of breaking up with him. Which, is so what I should have done. And much earlier to boot.

So this is why I now know what I know. They say those that can't do, teach. So please, my lady friends, learn from my stupidity! Your boyfriend is not the Six Million Dollar man -- you're not going to rebuild him and make him stronger. realize that this post has been far more repetitive than most, but I'm hopeful that repetition will allow the point sink in. In addition, the next time you have a problem, I can simply refer you to this post. It will save both time and "I told you so's".

Not that any of you bitches are going to listen to me.

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