Ask Wendy

What Should We Be Willing to Change for Love?

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couple on a date

Hey Wendy,

I went on a first date recently. Within the first 20 minutes of conversation, as we were both talking about where we live, my date mentioned that he could never live anywhere other than a big city.

Now, he was aware that I live in a regional town, one hour from the city. His comment really got me off on the wrong foot and I must say it bothered me for the rest of the date. I felt as though he was basically saying “I’m not prepared to move anywhere, so you would have to be the one to move”. Now living in the city and away from my family and friends is not what I really want, but it’s not a deal breaker and I would definitely do it for love. I guess what bothered me is that it felt like he didn’t have the same attitude and I wondered whether maybe he’s stubborn and uncompromising.

Or maybe it’s a deal breaker for him and he just wanted to get it out there. Or alternatively, it was an off the cuff comment that maybe could change down the track if he fell in love. Regardless, this comment so early on in our first date has stuck with me.

I’m not even sure yet how I feel about this guy, but I’m interested to hear your thoughts on his comment.

Annie D – Petaluma, California

 

Hey Annie,

Thank you so much for your question. Yours has to do with geography, but women everywhere find themselves asking some version of this question because we’re trained to think, “when he loves me, he’ll change.”

When we’re in love, he will magically:

  • move to my regional town because my family is there.
  • stop riding centuries with the guys every weekend.
  • stop playing in bands so he can spend weekends with me.
  • quit that career that makes him travel so much.
  • become more ambitious and get the career he once said he aspired to.
  • change his mind about never wanting to be married.
  • want to have children with me.
  • decide he doesn’t want children because I don’t.
  • cave and buy me that house that’s a hundred grand more than what is comfortable for him.

The list goes on and on.

I know that love feels like magic—and I realize I’m getting ahead of myself using the word “love” in your situation, but stay with me. Despite that, I’m asking us all to stop this type of wishful thinking.

Do we all need to compromise in partnership? Yes. But compromise more along the lines of eating at his favorite taqueria when your preference is barbeque, or him spending an extra fifteen minutes in that shoe store so you can try on those sexy boots in two different sizes. Bigger compromises might be something like having to carry the financial or emotional load for a minute during an unexpected emergency or job loss. But the big life and lifestyle stuff? Yeah, best to just wait it out for a partner who wants what you want.

His statement doesn’t indicate that he’s stubborn or uncompromising. This is a man who knows who he is and isn’t afraid to show you. What if we all brought that kind of clarity to our dating interactions? Leaving his city is a deal-breaker for him, and he was providing you with quality information by sharing that. Good on him!

It took me 121 first dates to meet my partner because 1) I was unwilling to compromise on my minimum requirements and deal-breakers (my list was four pages long). And 2) I only continued dating guys that I didn’t need to change in any way. If I had to change him, or there was something I’d hope would change once he was in love with me, I was out. Tough, right?

It shouldn’t take you as long as it took me—seriously, I’m demanding—but I do hope you at least look at your own deal-breakers moving forward. Learn about where you’re malleable and where you are not, and be brave enough to say it straight out just like he did.

“I only live in big cities” is definitely a fair statement to make. Even though we humans are adaptable, it’s still okay to say “no.”

So, should you keep dating him? Well, you could say “yes” to that next date if you’re willing to move to his city. If not, then pass. And I’m leaving you with homework: Discover what your real deal-breakers are—as in write them down and keep them somewhere visible—and areas where you willing to adapt, as well. If you need inspiration around figuring that out, I can help. Check out my Finding Your Love self-guided workshop, and spend a few hours doing the exercises I guide you through to sort this out for yourself.

Good luck, and happy dating!

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