Wednesday, 20 October 2010

In which I consider whether it's acceptable to change things about the man one's dating

“Well, those are things that could be changed…” JournoGal said, in typically pragmatic fashion as I lay in bed one evening on the phone to her, Colin snoring black fluff over the pillowcase and my latest literary obsession (if Jilly Cooper counts as such) lying open on the bed.

We were discussing a couple of the intriguing clothing choices made by The Northerner that I’d discovered since he and I had taken a leap in our dalliance and committed to being friends on Facebook. We’d also previously touched in conversation on the chain TN wears that appears to be a permanent fixture.

It’s an interesting concept: if there’s something you don’t like about the person you’re seeing, then change it. And it’s a view that, in my experience, seems to be far more prevalent in women than men (the notable exception being The Father, who refused to marry The Mother until she’d given up smoking). I wonder whether it’s a phenomenon that finds its roots in girls playing with dolls from a young age, and that we simply transfer our desire to dress things up to our boyfriends and husbands as we get older.

Whatever it is, I don’t know that I’m in favour of it.

Whilst I might find particular behaviours and habits in someone irksome, I’m not sure that I’d want to eradicate them in my attempts to find someone I want to be in a relationship with. I’d far rather be with a flawed individual with real personality than some Stepford Man who never left his damp towels on the bathroom floor, but also had nothing I could get excited about.

I’m all for grown-up discussions about compromise in relationships, but if a man tried to part me from my eyeliner, my Sunday morning sessions with large mugs of Earl Grey and the Archers omnibus, or my ever-increasing collection of lovely but impractical coats (ie, they’re beautiful but I can’t wear them in the rain), I know I’d be really cross.

“But what you need to consider,” Best Mate said when I brought the topic up over dinner, putting her legally trained brain to good use, “is whether or not it’s profound or a material thing that gets on your nerves. Because if it is just a shirt or two, and they really get on your nerves… Well, these things get lost in the wash. Happens all the time.” She shrugged and took a sip of wine.

She might be right. Things do get lost, especially in my house. And it’s not as if I’m asking him to embrace voting Conservative. And after all, a change is as good as a rest. Even when it’s enforced. Right?

7 comments:

Zstep said...

I'm of two minds on this post. Re: poor clothing choices, the only men who dress well are either gay or dressed by their significant other. This is a documented fact as written by Z. Step., Esq. and is acknowledged the world over. Should you choose to pursue a more significant relationship with this dude, you can easily modify his dressing habits with simple threats like withholding sex or strangling him with his pink and blue striped polo.

The chain is a more difficult issue to see past unfortunately. The only men who can pull this off are military types wearing their dog tags because, you know, they have to. Gold chains in particular are problematic in my view. Here in the States gold chains have become synonymous with the "Guido Phenomenon" perpetuated by the dreadful Jersey Shore personas. Even worse, I see gold chains as a common feature of prematurely balding men with excessive chest hair trying to encourage teenage boys into peep show establishments. Not good.

If he tries to explain the chain away as some sort of family legacy, run. That's just proving he has bad genes and nothing good can come from it.

Anyway, is this the Oompa Loompa?

Brennig said...

I've got to step in here...
I’m all for grown-up discussions about compromise in relationships, but if a man tried to part me from my eyeliner, my Sunday morning sessions with large mugs of Earl Grey and the Archers omnibus, or my ever-increasing collection of lovely but impractical coats (ie, they’re beautiful but I can’t wear them in the rain), I know I’d be really cross.

I don't have eyeliner, Sunday mornings sessions with Earl Grey or the Archers. Or impractical coats. But there are just one or two little things that are sacrosanct around here, and I would fight every quarter to keep them. Bugger compromise. Sometimes. :)

jman said...

Ah but what if the man you loved told you how oh so sexy and gorgeous he found you when you didn't wear eyeliner? How cross would you stay while you were removing it?

Jess said...

There are no excuses for a chain - it's one step away from a medallion or a football tattoo.

There's no harm in gently letting a person know you don't like an accessory (tactfully, in case it has some kind of personal significance).

There was a point early in my relationship when my partner teased me out of my clothes, kissed me passionately and whispered lovingly in my ear "If you're going to be my girlfriend we'll really have to do something about those pants." Somehow I didn't take offence.

Blonde said...

Zstep: Then you see my dilemma. We shall, I suppose, see. (I'm ignoring that last bit, by the way.)

Bren: Well, quite - I'm just concerned that the bits I dislike might be the bits he's not willing to part with. Erk. (Not an Earl Grey man? Really?)

Jman: It's happened. The boyfriend in question is no longer a boyfriend, yet the eyeliner remains. That probably explains the state of my love-life, really.

Jess: Oh, don't! I dread to think what undiscovered horrors lurk. Nicely done, Mr Jess, though. Dare I ask what was so terrible about the pants?

Del said...

Men hate it when they think a woman is trying to change them, even when it's for the better. I've had it happen to me, and it summons an almost irrational rage. We've got fragile egos, and when you try and rearrange us, we dig our heels in and resist. I guess because it's a rejection of who we are. And it's something I'd never do to a girl, for fear of upsetting her or appearing chauvanistic.

Suggestions and persuasions are sometimes welcome, but I think a lot of it is timing. I remember on a second date, a girl told me I should grow a beard. I said I didn't want to. She insisted I should. I didn't see her again.

Re: poor clothing choices, the only men who dress well are either gay or dressed by their significant other.

Bollocks, Zstep.

theperpetualspiral said...

The current Mrs TPS has helped me update my wardrobe and general appearance. At first I resisted greatly, but the changes worked not only for how I looked but my confidence too.

Once I encouraged one of the dogs to eat a pair of her shoes that I didn't like, it seems the girls stuck together on that one though as the shoes remained uneaten.

I did read somewhere on the internet (so it clearly must be true), that women meet a man and than spend time making them into the man that they really want.

Bren is right though, sometimes compromise is much needed. Mrs TPS loves the Hollyoaks omnibus on a Sunday morning whilst I find that an ideal time to make us brunch and then sit and read the papers with a pot of coffee.

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