A friend of mine is going through a divorce after realizing that her husband is not going to change his destructive behavior. He behaved better for a while, but it didn’t last. I’ve been through this myself. As we were talking about it one day, I realized something… it’s easy to be who you genuinely are.
Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, trying to change your outward behavior without experiencing real change on the inside never works. At worst, it is deception. At best, it is wishful thinking, also known as self-deception.
Instead of being motivated by real love, many people just want to be allowed to be selfish without experiencing any consequences. Some think, “What is the least I can do to prevent the loss of this relationship?” If that is the thinking, I would wager that the relationship has already been lost.
What are they trying to do, then, by pretending to care? If it isn’t about real intimacy, then it must be about something else. Perhaps they rely on the relationship to provide financial support, or they find it convenient having someone to cook for them. Others may simply be invested in maintaining the status quo so they won’t have to go through the hassle of divorce.
In order for relationships to have any chance of success, it is essential that both people possess integrity. That is why I hate it when I hear a man say to a woman, “You make me want to be a better man.” I witnessed this in a movie recently and was appalled that it was meant to be a romantic compliment.
Obviously, I have a different opinion. I think men and women ought to be the best they can be, for their own sake. If their only interest in self-improvement is to be able to win another’s heart, then they are nothing but a pretender. They might get what they want by rising to the occasion, but I doubt they’ll stay there. After a while, the façade will fade away because deep down, that’s not who they are.
I don’t want to be unfairly biased against men, though. So, I’ve been thinking… do women ever say, “You make me want to be a better woman?” Maybe, but I’ve never heard that line in a movie.
Regardless, my romantic fantasies have changed drastically over the years. I’ve already been swept off my feet, only to be dashed against the rocks. The only relationship I am interested in nowadays is one based on profound integrity. No pretending, no trying to impress, no façades.
It’s easy to be who you genuinely are, so let’s all just be that for starters. That doesn’t mean we can’t change. It just means that any journey of self-improvement we may embark on is internally motivated. Real growth of character requires that we take full responsibility for the pursuit of our full potential, and that we do it without expecting any external reward whatsoever.