Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dating Behavior Vs. Relationship Behavior

Bruno Mars’ Just the Way You Are song has lyrics every woman wants to hear. He tells his girlfriend:

I’d never ask you to change
If perfect is what you're searching for
Then just stay the same.

We women eat this up. These aren’t new lyrics either, anyone remember Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are? He tells his woman not to change anything.

Don't go trying, some new fashion,
Don't change the color of your hair,
You always have my, unspoken passion,
Although I might not seem to care.

We love the sentiment, but relationships are about change. Think about it. There are good changes and bad changes. An old joke talks about a man and woman getting married. The woman is out to change the man into a more acceptable spouse, while the man wants the woman to stay the sweet, biddable girl he met in high school. Most people laugh at the joke, especially men because it hits a responsive chord closer to home than we might like to acknowledge.

When does the change occur? We have dating behavior and relationship behavior and yes, the two are very different. When we are dating, we are dancing as hard as we can to impress each other. Often the image we are putting out there is not our real self. In the relationship, we figured we landed the other person and stop trying. Most of you know this is true.

This is why men think their woman has changed. What happened to the hot babe that met him at the door with an open-mouthed kiss, pulling him inside for more because she missed him so much? She didn’t change so much per se, than she changed her focus. Before the highlight of her day was her man, now he is just another part of her day, maybe not even an exciting part.

A guy realizes a change has occurred he didn’t approve of and tries to change her back by commenting how much he liked her look before. He’s trying to fix a problem, but she sees it as criticism. He might even mention someone from work as an example. She may fire back he’s put on some weight or other cutting remarks. It’s a definite downward spiral.

Change where we no longer care about the other is never good. This can be simply taking each other for granted. There no guarantees that you’ll be forever. Every day we encounter people who could possibly be a future mate, could steal our guy, or steal us away from our guy. What keeps this from happening?

Always presenting the better hand, allow me to explain. We, humans, tend to find what we don’t have more interesting than what we do have. Stupid humans, animals are smarter than us. Often what someone else has is much, much more interesting. A guy I dated almost two years ago has tried to come back into my life recently. When I told him I was in a serious LTR he has upped his game continually trying to engage me in conversation whenever I encounter him. I am amused that he tells me fate wants us together. The one that got away is ever so much more attractive than the one nearby. Frankly, I wish he’d leave me alone and have told him so.

On one hand, ladies, the ex-date is an international businessman and associates with rock stars and models. If I wanted a brush with glamour, I could lean his way. What I have is so much better. My sweetie is devoted to me and supports my career aspirations. He truly believes I am the best thing that has ever happened to him and never fails to tell me this. I also lucked out because he is a hopeless romantic who is always thinking of new ways to express his love. That is a winning hand. I like to think I am always presenting a winning hand too.

There are ways we can change that are good too. You can grow together and find out more about each other. Before I divorced, I was married for almost fourteen years and yet I could tell you very little about my ex, except he was an indulged child used to having his own way. He didn’t have a clue about me either, my favorite foods, what I liked to do, even my dreams. It is no surprise we didn’t stay together. Friends and family wondered why we stayed as long as we did.

Growing together is the more mature way to handle things. None of us will maintain the twenty-year-old body no matter how hard we work out. Relationships change due to what we discover about the other and we allow our sweetie to discover about us. The more I find out about my sweetie I understand why he reacts the way he does. It also knits us into friends as opposed to just being lovers. Too often, people in relationships fail to become friends. One blogger commented that women who say their husband/boyfriend is their best friend have no friends. How sad for her that she is unable to have that deep of a relationship. I will admit it is hard to get your guy excited about a great pair of shoes that’s when a girlfriend comes in handy.

Instead of feeling cheated how time has changed you or your guy, try to find characteristics you like right now about each other. We really are the same people down deep that we always were. If you fell for someone you didn’t know that well in the beginning it will seem like he changed, but he didn’t really. If you’re able to appreciate each other where you are right now then you got it made. Maybe change the words to the song a little, “We’ll grow together as years go by. My love will never change because I love you just the way you are.” Billy Joel could add if you want to change the color of your hair to hide the gray, go ahead.


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