In life, there are two types of people: those who can change and those who can't. If you are a woman searching for the perfect man, you might be more likely to consider the majority of the world in that first category. Enter the "fixer-upper man," commonly understood as a poor, unwilling male soul who is renovated and retrofitted according to the expectations of his female partner, until the end result better conforms to the female's ideal of the perfect mate.
While looking for love, too many women feel that in order to be happy they must not only find a partner, but also make him into a different person-a "better person." Why do so many equate relation
ships with remodeling?
Jessica Fawson: This remodeling is like getting new cabinets in the kitchen-you aren't tearing apart the guy, you're just changing the way he looks to the world. I see nothing wrong with trying to improve the lives of a few troubled individuals who need help. Some guys do need to change. They are really big jerks and even their mothers know it.
The girl is not out to get the guy but does try to improve him out of the kindness of her heart and to serve humanity as a whole.
Coloroso: Listen, Mother Theresa, you're missing the point. The essential element of the fixer-upper man dilemma is that it revolves entirely around the man. It does not start from a warm place in any woman's heart, because she enters the relationship thinking she is perfect and thus has the authority to change everyone else.
When a man becomes a project instead of a person, it's inevitable that all his partner will see in him are the flaws that need to be corrected. There is no possibility for any long-term stimulation or attraction because, just like any other project, once it's finished, you move on.
Fawson: The fixer-upper man is Everyman. What man is there who really cares enough to listen to a woman and who is actually interested in her "personality?" That man doesn't exist.
I'm not even talking about the guys with serious issues, such as a criminal record. I'm just talking about your average guy. He needs to be molded and directed into being a worthwhile member of society. The woman is there to guide him on a better path.
Coloroso: You make it sound as though they're coming out of rehab! As if the male condition inherently leaves one in a perpetual state of stupor and poor hygiene.
Did you ever stop to think that perhaps your own obsessive-compulsive habits have driven off the good men?
It is grossly unfair to say that all men suffer from the same inadequacies or character flaws that you consider in need of tending. If the core of the issue really were love, then why would a woman not be willing to change any of her misgivings? Why would she not willingly subject herself to such "helpful suggestions?"
Fawson: Often the way to prove to a woman that you really love her is to prove to her that you can change. That the wild, rambunctious youth of your past is now long gone, replaced by maturity and devotion to making a relationship work.
Coloroso: OK, so the "if he loves me, he will change for me" doctrine works for things, such as public nose-picking, but not in terms of fundamentally altering the person you say you love. A relationship in any circumstance requires equality between each partner. The myth that compatibility washes away any disagreements
or differences is harmful because it sets the standards for a relationship impossibly high, leaving either partner vulnerable to feel frustrated and hurt that his or her partner does not live up to the ideal.
In any relationship, you are liable to fight, and the more time you are with someone, the more likely you are to see sides of him or her you didn't see initially. While this may potentially wreck the relationship, it can also strengthen it, because as people become more comfortable with each other, they can grow together and learn to love their partner's little quirks or imperfections.
Fawson: Women change before they ever get into a relationship. What woman would do her hair and makeup everyday without the possibility of anyone seeing it?
Women create an image of themselves-whether it is rich or preppy or just-rolled-out-of-bed. The change occurs when a woman notices that a guy is interested in her.
However, this is entirely untrue when it comes to guys. He doesn't change until he is forced to. Perhaps there are some guys out there not in need of "fixing," but they are few and far between. Most guys need a shove in the right direction.
Coloroso: But it hurts to be shoved. It hurts the man by taking away his personality as well as his autonomy, and it hurts the woman by depriving her of what could have been a very loving relationship. It hurts the relationship itself by destroying the premise of equality and the possibility of any future growth. And it hurts all the rest of us-because we are sick of our friends telling us the same story over and over and over again, that no matter how hard you try, he just doesn't like Celine Dion.
Give it up, ladies. Your partner's poor taste in music is not a reason to sacrifice your long-term happiness.