Friday, October 19, 2012

The Myth of the Fixer-Upper

In high school and college, I was equally amused and frustrated by girl who dated known "bad boys" with the hope that their love would be so strong that the "bad boy" would change his ways.  I was not a "bad boy" by any stretch of the imagination, often living (against in my will) in the Friend Zone.  I would tell them, I would try to warn them, "they're not going to change."

No-one would listen to me and a few months later, they could concede I was right -- the must frustrating instance being also including the explanation, "he's just the kind of boy you have to date.  You're the kind of guy a girl marries.  He's the kind of guy a girl dates."  It is the single most memorable back-handed compliment I have ever received.  I will cherish/loathe it forever.

I bring all this up because there's a boy that London likes.  For the sake of anonymity, we'll call him Zitty McPimple.  Apparently, Zitty McPimple is ever-so dreamy and a known player.  He's had an on-again, off-again relationship with a different girl at school.  They're currently in their off-again relationship status (as of Tuesday, methinks).  Yesterday, he told London "I love you."  Today he said, "I think you and I should go together."  London's conflicted.  Zitty is super dreamy and the entire eighth grade class thinks they should be together.  But, as previously stated, he's a known player.  London knows this and doesn't really like but, she reasons, "maybe I can change him."

The sentence that used to frustrate and amuse me now terrifies me.  I've seen too many girls and women return to abusive relationships thinking their man had changed or that they could change them and I just don't want London to be one of those statistics.  London knows, from her own life story, that a person can't change if they don't want to.  She knows she can't change him.  But yet there's that look in her eye that says, "but maybe . . ."  I've thrown this question out to the world for fifteen years and no-one has ever been able to answer it, but here I go again:

Why do girls think they can change boys?  Why do women think they can change men?

And, because of this new special place I find myself in:

How do I communicate to her that his boy has no desire to change?  Why would he want to?  He's bouncing from cute girl to cute girl.  He has no reason to change.

I know.  I know.  This is one of those things she's going to have to learn for herself.  I'm a big believer in learning lessons for one's self.  But what is it about having two X chromosomes that makes a person think they can change or fix anything that has a Y chromosome?  And why, if you have a certain standard or idea of what the perfect man would be, wouldn't you pursue that?

A frustrated father wants to know.


  1. I used to be like this, a little bit. I never dated "bad boys" but I dated boys who weren't very mature. I called them "guys with potential." I think the lure behind this is that, if you change them, then YOU'RE the girl. Forever. The girl he owes his life to, his sanity, his maturity, his whatever, to. You're the woman powerful enough, lovable enough, wise and wonderful enough, to have changed this man. And you DO see stories like this from time to time. Usually in movies, but I know of at least one in real life. And it's those 1 in a million stories that keep you going, that make you think that you, too, could be a magical savior woman who a man will say, "If it weren't for her . . . " about.

    1. I see the draw of that, I really do. Guys have a similar/related condition in that they have an nearly endless desire to save and defend and protect -- one that I'm sure has frustrated more than one female in Earth's history.

      I just don't want to see her hurt. I want to know she's going to make good choices and surround herself with people who will love and cherish her -- people who won't abuse or take advantage of her.

      Maybe Zitty McPimple isn't deserving of my ire. Maybe he's a stand-up guy. Or maybe he'll be someone she looks back on as an example of the kind of man she doesn't need. Maybe I'm just having trouble wrapping my brain around the point of having a significant other in 8th grade.

      But thank-you for that peek into the female brain. It definitely makes sense of a lot of things.