Is it Healthy for a Woman to Change to Please a Man?
Learn how to compromise
Many women have asked themselves the question, “Should I change for a man?” While some might immediately say “absolutely not”, the answer is both yes, and no, according to relationship experts.
Compromise is essential to a relationship, and change allows growth. But a woman should never give up the important parts of who she is in order to please a man. If it makes her a happier, healthier person, however, then she absolutely should make changes.
Change if it makes you a better person
The best question to ask is if you should change to become a better person and partner in a relationship, said Nancy Irwin, a psychologist and author.
“If that answer is yes, then change. If you are considering changing some behavior or aspect of yourself simply to please someone else, then the answer is no, unless you are okay with being co-dependent. It is completely your choice,” Irwin said.
It’s important to remember that in a healthy relationship, a person wants to be their best, but in an unhealthy relationship, a person tries to change to please another, she said.
“The most important question, though, is what is it that the partner wants you to change? Stop smoking? Lose weight? Get a face lift? Have a threesome? Unless it is a change you truly feel is for your best and Is still authentically YOU, then the other person has another agenda and they want you to be a reflection of them,” Irwin said.
Compromise is necessary
It is essential to be able to compromise in a relationship. Jazzy Sdlihc, a certified life coach, said, “There's no set amount or level that a women should change. If there is a change, it must be to better herself and not take away from who she really is as a woman. Her goals, dreams and passions should not change because of disapproval from a man. When we are in a new relationship, it's a natural response to feel the need to change to please the man. But this is also a false belief. It's not about changing, it's about compromising.”
It definitely depends upon the kind of change needed, said Scot Conway, Ph.D. and J.D.
“Should you compromise your core values? No. Should you compromise your self-respect? Of course not. Should you suddenly become nothing more than an accessory to his life? That should not even be a question,” Conway said.
“Should you be open to new things? Yes. Should you do some of the things he enjoys even though you would never do them by yourself? Some things, sure. Might you have to be supportive of him in some things you really would not support? Maybe. Might you have to dial down some things that have been your usual? Maybe. For instance on this one: You might not spend as much time with your friends as you used to, but please, please, please never cut off friends entirely while you're with some new man,” he said.
Consider it in reverse – you wouldn’t want a man to change for you if it meant changing his core values or self-respect, Conway said. “But every woman should want what's important to her become important to him because she's important to him. Just maintain balance. You're both adults and equals in the relationship. Sure, things will ebb and flow one way and then the other in whose giving more, but in the long run, it really ought to have a healthy balance.”
Feminists can change, too
Lisa A. Faulkner, psychologist, said, “At it's core feminism is about equality. And partnership. Not the battle of the sexes. A woman should change for a man because she wants to for herself and their relationship. A man should also change for a woman because he wants to for himself and their relationship.”
Faulkner, who has been married for 25 years, said, “The worst advice I received during our wedding reception was, ‘Don’t expect each other to change.’ If we’d taken the advice we wouldn’t have made it through our first year. I had a terrible temper coupled with difficulty forgiving. I had trouble letting go of tightness and bitterness in my body and finding my way back to the warmth of love. Since we argued — a lot — it seemed like I was always angry. Lots of sleepless, deep-freeze nights and cold shoulder mornings. It frustrated us both, him especially.”
She continued her story, “After a particularly rough week he suggested we try using the code word, snugglebunnies, to trigger forgiveness. It was a phrase he used to refer to my love of cuddling and hugging, especially in the winter when my feet and legs were ice cold. Though I worried it wouldn’t work, when he suggested it I grinned and my body softened as he suspected it would. He was right. The first time he tried it after we resolved whatever issue we’d fought about, but found us separated by the emotional wall and moat created by my anger, snugglebunnies melted my defenses like the Hotel de Glace in spring.”
“Slowly, I learned to forgive more easily with lots of practice and eventually we stopped needing the phrase,” she said. “Years later, a new friend asked my husband if he knew how lucky he was to be married to a woman with such a ‘pink cloud perspective.’ He grinned and said, ‘Yes. But did you know, every pink cloud has a stormy lining?’ Then he told the story of how I’d changed.”