Lust, People, Sexuality

Themes and Patterns

A few weeks ago, I was conversing with Suzanne, who has reached an age when she can look back on her romances and begin to see some themes and patterns.  She remarked, “I’m certain now that I’m attracted to jerks.”

“How has knowing that changed you?”, I asked.

“It hasn’t changed me much at all”, she replied, “I’m still attracted to jerks.”

“Why is that, Suzanne? You have enough experience of jerks to know exceptionally well they will only screw you over.”

“Yes, but they’re exciting.”, she laughed.

I grinned.  “Do you think you can change them, then?  Is that it?  Do you feel you can find an exciting jerk and turn him into someone who won’t screw you over?”

“Oh no!  I used to think that — years ago.  But I’ve learned.  You can’t turn a jerk into a decent man.”

“So what have you done with all this knowledge of yourself and jerks?”

“Well, it’s why I don’t date anymore.  I know if I did, I’d bring home a jerk.  And I have kids — I have to be responsible.  So, I just don’t date.”

There was no self-pity in her voice. She wasn’t begging me to feel sorry for her.  In fact, I don’t think Suzanne has ever spent much time feeling sorry for herself.  Instead, she spoke factually and plainly, one adult to another.

It seems to me that many women — and not just women — live in denial of the almost absolute fact that you cannot fundamentally change another person.  They think they can take a jerk and turn him into a decent man.  Or take a philanderer and turn him into a loyal mate.  Or make a lazy man industrious.  It’s a common mistake.  Yet, outside of fantasy, it almost never works.

Of course, the wisest thing is to recognize the fact you cannot change someone — and to recognize it at the youngest possible age — then work hard to find someone who already has the traits you want in your mate.

I was cheered by my conversation with Suzanne in large part because she revealed she’s wiser these days than to expect to change someone.  That might be the first step towards her deciding she doesn’t like jerks after all.  And, while in one sense, I think it’s her own business whether she dates jerks or not — I’d love her all the same regardless of what folly she engages in — I can’t help but wish her the best.  The best are not jerks, but decent men.

8 thoughts on “Themes and Patterns”

  1. I also think, if you keep attracting the same kind of person, it is important to look at yourself and see what it says about you. You are right you can’t change another but you can change yourself and then hopefully attract the right sort of person. (I speak from personal experience here… I’ve known a few jerks too 🙂 )

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  2. Not to be cynical, but I am a realist/therapist: sounds like S. is just waiting for the kids to grow up so she can date jerks again. Of course, while the kids are still home, a very nice man might come her way. Let’s hope she recognizes him.

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  3. It sounds like S has done the first part of hard work which is to piece the pattern together. But it also sounds like she doesn’t want to do the hard part which is to change herself, so that she can be attracted to a cool, loving man who won’t hurt her. That’ll take some work on rebuilding herself and opening up to a safe cluster of friends…but she’ll take the step when she wants to.

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  4. @DOF: I’m intrigued. Would you elaborate a bit on the industries whose main product is delusion?

    @Zenuria: That’s a very insightful comment! We often do seem to attract a certain type of person, don’t we.

    @TIV: You might be quite right about her playing a waiting game. I also think it’s possible that she might backslide on her resolve to avoid jerks. It can sometimes be hard for a woman her age to resist the temptations of sex and romance. What do you think?

    @Christina: Welcome to my blog! I get the same sense of Suzanne as you — that she doesn’t want to change herself.

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  5. But why would you want to change someone? I don’t want someone to be a different person. The people I love, I love them for who they are.

    Now maybe I hope sometimes that people will change some bad habits or attributes, etc, but I don’t expect them to change for me. If someone changes I want him/her to change for him/herself and for it to be a positive experience.

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  6. I agree that many women are inveterate fixer-uppers. It drives me nuts. In my view, if a woman would like to have a grounded, normal, macho kind of guy then she shouldn’t be dating a neurotic, eccentric metrosexual. Or at least if she does, she shouldn’t keep telling me to relax and stop ironing my handkerchiefs.

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  7. @Ordinary Girl: You and I have very similar attitudes towards changing people. 🙂

    @David: That makes a lot of sense — which, of course, means that most humans will ignore it.

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