“You Do You”

It’s commonly said that women try to change their man into someone more to their ideal. Men, however, are afraid women will change, as they like what they have.

Not that a man can’t wish a woman was a better cook, was more punctual, neater, or had other habits he liked. But (generally) he won’t hound her, unlike women (generally).

My experience is men won’t tell you when they are fully accepting of who you are, warts and all.

A man I’d known as a pal before we started dating picked me up for our second date during the holidays. I had donned a lighted Santa hat, then thought otherwise. I said, “I don’t want to embarrass you so I don’t think I’ll wear this.”

He said, “You do you.” I almost kissed him right there. I appreciated his expressing that I didn’t have to restrict being myself in order to fit in with him. He was just fine with me being me.

While we want the best for those we care about, it’s a fine line between suggesting ways they can be even better, and wanting them to change to fit into our comfort level.

I dated a man who worked in jobs where his appearance didn’t matter. He wore old t-shirts and ill-fitting jeans to work. When we started dating, he said he welcomed suggestions on how he could upgrade his image for when we went out. I wouldn’t have asked him to do this, but was pleased he’d asked for my input.

I suggested he see the local department store’s personal shopper because she’d be able to find cuts, colors and brands that complemented his body. He made an appointment and returned with an assortment of tops, pants and a jacket, all on sale. He asked for my opinion, then tried them on and I helped him choose the ones to keep that fit him the best. I admit I felt better when we went out as he looked so much better in the new clothes.

Was it shallow of me to like his upgraded look? Shouldn’t I have been happy when he dressed in his work clothes? I think he wasn’t comfortable being with me dressed the way he did for work. I didn’t say anything to make him feel uncomfortable. I think he was astute enough to want to take his image up a notch.

In relationships, before suggesting someone change, explore how you’d feel if he didn’t make the change you’d like. Would you love and respect him anyway? If so, maybe you don’t need to say anything.

If you decide it would make things better for both of you, approach the conversation gently to see if he sees any benefit to making the change. If he doesn’t see the value of the change, you’re just opening the relationship to a lot of hard feelings. Ask yourself if you want to take that risk. Or can you just let him do him.

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