This is most likely an unpopular opinion.
We've all heard the stereotype.
A man with several undesirable qualities meets a woman. She, through the power of her love and affection, fixes those issues. We see this troupe in movies in books:
He scrapped his entire outlook on life to have her
But do we see this type of interaction in "real life"? How likely is the complete overhaul of a man's personality for a woman?
Before we jump into the meat and potatoes, let's define change
I am not referring to specific simple and annoying habits like leaving the toilet seat up or not putting dirty dishes back in the dishwasher. I'm referencing large aspects of personalities or actions. Like his perspective on life, his treatment of other people or you or how and sometimes when he communicates. These are just a few examples of things that fall under this take on the word change.
The first thing that needs to be understood in this context is the conflicting mindsets of men and women.
Most women look at people and see their potential. Again, we see this in pop-culture and our day to day interactions. Most women look at people and see what they could be with the help of specific conditions. In certain circles, you'll even hear: "She could be so pretty if she wore makeup/ dieted/ exercised/ updated her fashion sense/ etc" The same statements are applied to men "He'd be boyfriend material he just did ____" That blank could be anything from "paid more attention to me, stopped sleeping around, or chewed with his mouth closed".
Most men, on the other hand, see what things are at face value. If the door looks red, it's red because it's red. Most men see things as how they are presented to them. You also see this in pop-culture. This occurs all of the time in your classic "glow up" movies. The most popular and classic example most have seen is:
The male protagonist in these troupes never sees the beautiful physical transformation of the female lead coming. He never would have guessed that she was capable of being this new person. Now that he notices her, things are different between the two of them. He is shocked because he never conceptualizes the girl's potential to be anything but what she was presenting to him.
It highly unlikely to hear this conversation between guys:
Guy 1: "Man she is so hot"
Guy 2: "Too bad her but is flat"
Guy 1: "It is right now, but if she began working out she'd have the perfect butt and be total ten. If I date her, we'd work out together and build up her perfect butt together"
Guy 2: "You're right, I can picture that"
It'll probably go along these lines:
Guy 1: "Man she is so hot"
Guy 2: "Too bad her but is flat"
Guy 1: "Oh true"
Okay, we've established that men and women see things differently, so what?
Now we apply this to relationships. Women, because they see themselves potentially staying with this person readily change themselves. In fact, for most women, a change is necessary to keep their day to day life interesting or to fit in: a new hair cut, new shoes, or fitting into the latest style or trend. Most women are more dynamic than men.
However, men change because they want to. I'm not saying that men are not influenced by societal or other external pressures. It's just that, in most cases, their internal dialogue is their biggest motivator for change. As a result, when women enter relationships with the idea that this man is a fixer-upper, it's likely that little to no progress will be made. This does not mean that change is impossible. In these scenarios, change is required on both ends. The growth in personality and strength tends to ricochet between the couple. An example of a natural and mutual change in response to each other:
Most men do not walk into relationships ready to scrap the parts of their personality that agitate their partner. In most cases, men don't understand why women want them to change. They see her as who she is- in their own perspective- and make the assumption that she thinks the same way.
This is yet another reason why a sudden change is incredibly unlikely. The internal voice of a man is not prompting or pushing for this change because it is not seen as necessary. In these situations, women keep trying to push something that their male partner sees no value in. This is why most women are stereotyped as nagging and obsessive. In fact, in most cases, this will lead to an incredibly stubborn display of embellishing the undesired behavior or trait.
Most women who enter relationships ready to mold their perfect man aren't actually looking at the man before them. They have the idea of what he could be and love the idea of him. They create a checklist or a profile of objectives. "If I do x, he'll respond with y and stop doing z". It's almost like scripting the interactions within the relationship. This will be viewed as manipulation by the man in the relationship and is bound to receive a negative reaction.
If that is the case, why does the cinema tell me to fix my man with love and affection?
Because it sells. Change within a relationship has existed since relationships have existed. It is blown out of proportion throughout the media. And creates a very cute and sappy story that female consumers eat up. It gives the impression that the woman just needs to love the man enough. The woman has to just be herself and the man will change himself because he too, loves her. This concept sells incredibly well.
I cannot stress the following statement enough. Interactions between men and women should not be formed around the ideas presented in the plots of romantic movies. Romcoms are fun and cute, but not roadmaps on how to love and form/ build relationships. With that thought in mind, picture this. A dangerous and volatile, yet dark and mysterious man changes himself to be the perfect husband and father to his partner. Sounds like quite the heartthrob fantasy right? I wonder where these ideas come from?
It would be easier to accept your partner for who they are. Why expend extra effort to shape a person when you could focus on the positive and enjoy their company? That is exactly what men, on average, tend to do. The person they are considering having a relationship with shows their share of undesirable traits. Rather than creating a plan of how they intend to stick by her side and help her improve herself, they'll either walk or love her for who she is.
Change in a relationship, whether it's romantic or platonic, needs to be mutual l and undefined. The other person will grow in response to what decisions they make and what they are exposed to. How this information is processed tends to depend on gender. So no. A woman cannot change a man. You cannot plan out someone's personality in order to receive desired behaviors. People change themselves and can change for each other.
So, in sum, I present the short answer: Kind of, but no. But only sometimes- if they work together. Don't count on it.
**I use the word most throughout this because not all men and women fall under this divide. However, most tend to interact in the ways described above.**