Krysta Anderson, Gleaner Writer
On any first date with a new man, several questions may arise. The woman may start to think: does he really like me? Is he the one for me? How do I keep him interested? Dating and relationships go through different stages of compromises which depend on the individuals involved. But most times it seems that the women are the ones who compromise to fit into their love interests lives. So Flair put the question forward: how do women change for men?
While courting, and even during the relationship, a woman will change the way she looks and her behaviour to please her potential male counterpart.
For Karla Morrison, altering her look for a man turned out to be significantly beneficial for her health. "For years, I was always big-bodied, and I loved it. I met someone who also liked full-figured women and we began dating. But when he found out my exact weight, he encouraged me to loose some weight and start eating healthier. I was a bit reluctant at first, but I went along with it, just to please him, since he had my best interest at heart," she told Flair. Her boyfriend then went abroad to attend university and Morrison decided that she would surprise him when he returned home for Christmas holiday.
"I got a personal trainer who pushed me to the limit, and it was there that I discovered how much fun it was to exercise. Yes, of course, it is painful, but the adrenaline rush, the release of endorphins, made me feel more rejuvenated to take on each day. When my boyfriend arrived in December, I had lost 15-20 pounds. He expressed how impressed he was with the change, becoming even more affectionate with me, maybe it was the distance, maybe it was the 'new body', but I felt more comfortable and a lot sexier in my skin," she ended.
Morrison explains that even though she is no longer seeing that boyfriend, she doesn't regret the change but instead she tries her best to keep her body in shape.
Law student Mishka Anderson, also had a similar experience. "I was always a chill person, dressing conservatively, but along came this man who wanted me to be more feminine and sexier, which I did, because he wanted me to. With all of that came more attention and he became jealous, aggressive and suspicious. Our relationship took a turn for the worse so we went our separate ways," Anderson revealed vowing she would never change who she is for a man again.
Donna Hope-Marquis, cultural analyst, director and senior lecturer in the Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Reggae Studies Unit at the University of the West Indies, agrees that women do change for men. "Women change for men in different ways - some women will do an entire makeover to fit in with what they perceive to be the expectations of a man, so that they can end up together. If the man is a Rastafarian, some women will change their lifestyle in a similar way, getting rid of their revealing clothes, growing locks and changing their diet." She continues, " I have seen women do background research on men to find out what their favourite meal is and then pretend to be able to cook so that the man will think they are a good cook." The reason women do this, she says, is quite simple, "They change because they are motivated to do so as they expect that the change(s) will make them more appealing as a girlfriend, resulting in a stable relationship, or even better, a wedding," she ended.
According to family therapist Sydney McGill, "In the way people view reality, a woman will be more intuitive and emotionally aware, while a man will be more logical and concrete. Generally speaking, women become tolerant and accommodating, studying and knowing the traits of men who seek affirmations and praises to boost their egos." He highlights the reason for this change being from a cultural standpoint, "Women learn to do this in their family of origin, growing up and seeing their mothers change as and accommodate personality traits from men, so they follow the trend, learning to cope with men's deficiencies." He brings to the forefront educated women, who tend to be different, being less tolerant of men - these women accommodate men up to a certain point, but will break things off once specific boundaries are crossed.
The goal, therefore, Dr McGill asserts, is transparency, "A woman needs to maintain respect, while saying no in a way that is not intimidating to a man, artfully declining and setting boundaries. A woman needs to also look within and examine what she truly wants from a man, taking stock of the relationship's met needs, as opposed to unmet needs, which changes from woman to woman. A financial need may be of more value than an emotional need, and if the emotional need is not being met, then she'll accommodate him based on importance. It is best to evaluate and see what best works for them." Significantly, he strongly believes that a man and woman should be friends first and lovers after, setting a firm foundation; and what he finds in recent times is that couples start out as being lovers first, and then break up in the end because there was never a friendship. Also, he tackled the matter of change in a relationship. "A lot of times, it is the women who are changing and the men are not changing. Men should think about becoming more emotional, as a woman needs to feel loved, and women should in turn become more decisive and logical, in a creative manner."