Don't Go Changing ... or maybe do ...

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Change: to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

There you have it. The dictionary.com definition of the word change.

I kinda like it, especially when you apply it to relationships. Because as we all know, adding someone new to our world changes our world immediately. Sometimes dramatically, sometimes in the smallest of increments. But change does take place. Always.

So if a guy says “I am what I am. Take it or leave it!” – what the hell is he talking about? Is that just some macho Neanderthal chest-pounding thing or does the dude honestly believe that he won’t have to alter one damn thing to facilitate something new?

Our cells change. All the time. I actually didn’t know this (scientific moron that I am) until my friend Marilyn told me. So the question begs – if our physical bodies know enough to change constantly and regularly, why is it so damn difficult for our emotional and intellectual bodies (for lack of a better word) to do the same? Why aren’t we more willing to step outside of the comfort zones we have so conveniently stepped into (because they are comfortable, damnit) and change? Especially when we say, no, we insist that we want to be in a relationship?

Don’t go changing to try and please me … (Billy Joel)

That’s why. Ridiculously romantic songwriters suggest it ain’t necessary.

But I’m going to remind you right here, right now, that old Bill wrote those words for his first wife before he ran off with his super-model second wife. So maybe if honeypie #1 had actually dyed her hair a time or two, things would have worked out differently? Because thetruth is sometimes you have to change just to keep up. Sometimes you have to change to stay in the game. There is another word for this. Compromise. And I’m pretty sure that compromise always involves some kind of change.

Case in point: My last beau was a vegetarian. Who didn’t drink. Booze or caffeine. I will admit readily that I am a certifiable lush who gleefully rips flesh from bone and doesn’t utter a single intelligible word until after my first cup of coffee. So did I change?

Hell, no. But I did alter my behaviour. I cooked vegetarian for both of us when we were together (I saved my flesh-ripping for solo feasts). I drank even more when we went out because I always had a DD (hell, yeah!) and I never offered him a hot drink again. All of these feats were – to me – similar to all those physical cells changing. I just did it because it made the union function.

The problem is the emotional and intellectual “changes” required to create a successful pairing are far more subtle. You can’t just start cooking tofu and accept the fact that your beloved and you will never ever experience that delightfully horny glow that comes after two glasses of wine. Intellectual changes require … oh damn, what’s that word? Oh yeah … intellect. And unless you are truly willing to learn and learn and learn some more, on a thousand levels, it’s doubtful change will take place in that arena.

But compared to the emotional level, the smarty-pants thing is actually a cakewalk. Go back to school, take an on-line course, read a book … whatever.

It’s that damn emotional level that is so baffling. It’s far easier to say “she’s a nut” or “she’s too much work” than it is to look inwards and say “hmmm … I wonder if maybe all my other relationships have tanked because I’m not doing the emotional work?” You know, the work that leads to true emotional availability? And emotional intimacy. Which is of course every woman knows leads to sexual intimacy.

Yep. That’s how easy we are.

Truth be told, sometimes we just need to let it all hang out baby, and know that you’ll be there to catch us when we fall. That we can work through this together. That we don’t have to regulate every word that flies out of our mouth like a buttoned-up defense attorney.

Perhaps we are longing to hear you say the magic words “Maybe I need to work as much on my relationship (and all of its silly complications) as I do on my … motorcycle” (random example, honest).

But change is a scary scary word. Because for whatever inane reason, we’re all still listening to Bill and that dumb song.

So let’s try a different word.

Evolve.

To come forth gradually into being; develop; undergo evolution. Develop by a process of evolution to a different adaptive state or condition.

Brilliant.

And I’m thinking the operative word here is gradual. It’s not an overnight dye-job, liposuction or lobotomy. It’s the profound realization that in order for this relationship to flourish – and I want it to flourish (big point there!) – I’m going to have to gradually open up. Try new things. Change my MO.

Oh wait – there’s that damn “change” word again. The very word that inspires terror in the hearts of men everywhere.

Tell you what. From now on let’s change that change word to evolve.

In order for this relationship to flourish – and I want it to flourish – I’m going to have to open up. Try new things. Evolve.

And I’m not just talking about you. I’m talking about me.

I am afraid of heights. Learning to downhill ski at the ripe old age of 30 was terrifying. Not the falling and injuring and running mascara (what, that’s not a run-of-the-mill fear?) but the chairlift. The damn chairlift that propels you to never-before imagined heights whilst your legs dangle dangerously in space, reminding you that you could quite easily slip out of that chair at any moment.

But ya know what – I am suddenly thinking abouttrekking (I shudder to think actual climbing may be involved) to the top of a mountain. A very high mountain in the alps.

Why?

Because you are never too old to evolve. And if I’m hoping for emotional evolution all-around I just may need to do some evolving of my own. Get out of my comfort zone. Demonstrate a little tit-for-tat.

All this evolution stuff is not a one-way street, this I know. Or a one-way mountain. But I am already imagining the summit. On both counts. And I am willing to evolve to get there.

Can you imagine the view?

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