Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Dating Chameleon: She Becomes Whatever He Wants

Hi Terry,

I have friend who becomes whatever her boyfriend wants her to be. Her last one hated anything Science Fiction, so she hated anything Science Fiction. He collected guns, so she went from supporting gun control laws to saying, "God and Guns made us Free." He wanted her skinny, so she starved herself. He wanted a redhead, so she dyed her hair.

To my friend, her boyfriend's word was the law, she believe everything he said. But, she never meet his coworkers, his family called her a gold digger, and she has and is still dating him after 13 years. She keeps telling me he is the one, the one God sent to her.

Why do women do this? I have talked to men, and overall they do not like it. Did we learn this from our mothers, our female teachers, our pastors (who preached submission) what is the reason, and why?

I have a degree in Human Behavior, so things like this interest me.

-Gotta Know


Dear Gotta-

This kind of thing has always interested me, too. I'm no psychologist (or human behaviorist), but your friend's problem is low self-esteem. In other words, a man's never going to love her for who she really is, so she must mold herself to fit his expectations.

It sounds exhausting.

And you're right. Healthy, normal, well-adjusted men are pretty freaked out when a woman comes along and transforms herself into what she thinks he wants. The control freaks, the losers, and the abusers just love it, though. It makes them feel powerful.

Back to the question of low self-esteem: A lot of it does develop in childhood. I took some pretty wild abuse from nuns that took some conscious effort to get over, for example. But I did get over it. It can be done.

Your question about pastors is a good one. Church is great, but I don't know that it's the best place to meet men. Certain churches are a magnet for guys with a "Wives submit to your husbands in all things..." mentality that Christ did not preach but St. Paul did. (I would argue that St. Paul was a man preaching to certain people in certain times, and he was not Christ.)

And then the media program little girls from the time they can figure out the remote to believe they need a man and should cater to him mentally, emotionally, and physically. My husband often asks, "Why are women so eager to hate themselves?" I tell him, "Turn on the television."

I do hope your friend will think twice about blaming God for sending this guy her way, especially since, after 13 years, his family calls her a gold digger (nice one, by the way), and he clearly isn't interested in introducing her to other key people in his life.

If she's willing to work on her self-esteem, I recommend a brilliant book by Louise Hay called You Can Heal Your Life. She might also look into a method called EFT to help her let go of the belief that this sad relationship is the best God has in store for her. She can download a free ebook and check out a short video about the process here.

-Terry