Can a woman really change a man? What are the movies telling us?

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

Can a woman really change a man? What are the movies telling us?

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:

"You're suddenly so hot and irresistible"

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:

They developed together and learned to accept themselves and each other
They developed together and learned to accept themselves and 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?

Cute and a classic, but highly unlikely. The Beast was the only one to change
Cute and a classic, but highly unlikely. The Beast was the only one to change

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.

Can a woman really change a man? What are the movies telling us?

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.**

Can a woman really change a man? What are the movies telling us?
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Most Helpful Guy

  • hellionthesagereborn
    They tell you EXACTLY what you want to hear. You want the bad boy but you know he is a piss poor match, so you seek out confirmation that some how the bad boy will change just for you (because your special, for some reason). Women eat this up and movies and books simply capitalize on this. No different then when the movies have the nerdy guy get the hot girl, we all know that this never happens, we all know that a nice guy will never get a girl because reality shows us again and again that its not true but the people making the movies are selling a fantasy not reality so it doesn't matter. The difference is men are more realistic and most understand that this isn't reality, that being nice is not valued, that if your nerdy and ugly your not going to have some one value you (this holds true for women to a degree but they still are better off then the man simply because they are a woman (the way we reproduce requires women more then men giving them a slight advantage (but an ugly woman is not going to get a guy who is a ten still)) etc. etc. But that's not what people want to see, they don't want to see the ugly guy/girl never find some one, they don't want to see the little guy get destroyed by the big guy, women don't want to see the bad boy doing exactly what bad boys do (mistreating her cheating on her and being apathetic to her), they don't want to see a realistic depiction of relationships because they require hard work and dedication, they want to see the fantasy, that everything always ends up all right, that every one gets what they want and nothing ever takes any real effort. So like I said, they are selling a fantasy.
    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Girl

  • SpiderLady
    I really liked what you wrote, one of my favorite posts on this site so far.

    I think it's true, women are more likely to get into a relationship hoping to change the other person than vice vera. However, personally I have to admit, it has been the opposite for me. Although I've only been in a serious relationship with two men, both have been the "nagging" ones in the relationship. Honestly, I've never felt fully accepted as I was. That I was enough. There was always "do this more"... "be this less". I've heard the words "if you could just be..." too many times.

    On the otherhand, I also never felt it was my job to change anyone, let alone these men. I try to see the beauty and potential in everyone that I come across. If I like you enough, I'll help you IF and only IF you're open to uncover your potential and the essense of who you are as a person. I want you to be your true authentic self, that's all. If I don't mesh with you well, cool. We move on and that's that. However, no matter what, I accept you for who you are as I'd hope you'd do the same for me.

    The reason I try not to "push" other people or "mold" them into what I think they should be is because I hate when other people do it to me.
    Is this still revelant?
    • SpiderLady

      All my life I've had people try to change or mold me into who they thought I should be without really knowing me. For example, I was a slow poke at everything (still am.. hehheh). It took me hours to do a simple chore that would take someone else minutes.

      My well meaning father thought he could "change" this annoying trait by making me do all of the chores by myself. I guessed he hoped that it would put enough pressure on me that I'd get everything done quicker. Long story short, his plan back fired -- hard. Little did any of us know, my concept of time is a lot different from most... as in I have almost no concept of time. So I could literally stand at the kitchen sink all day long (which I did) and not notice that a huge chunk of my life -- along with my drool -- was just pouring into the sudsy pool.

      If any of us had known, or paid attention, maybe a different approach could been introduced that could have "helped" the problem. For "change" to be introduced, I believe that you have to accept the person as they are and also ironically try not to make it your goal to change them. Maybe help them embrace this trait and/or use it for good. Notice and accept that they're a drooling slow poke and chronic daydreamer. Tell them, "hey dummie, I've noticed you've been wiping that plate while simutatiously drooling on it for about 10 minutes now. I'm sure it's because you're cooking up some ground breaking, world shattering shit in that head of yours (not) but you're going to have to put the superwoman cape away for a bit while we're here in real world."

      "Alright Dad, you're the best!" This is me dreaming of the dialogue I wish had taken place, but I hope you get the point.

    • SpiderLady

      by the way thank you for MHG :)

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What Girls & Guys Said

1845
  • 1. "Men Are From Mars Women Are From A Parallel Universe!" A woman might express that thought in a slightly different way but the idea is the same. Women are not simply men with boobs and a vagina. Women think differently, feel differently, and act differently. Men will never really understand women and women will never really understand men. That is part of the challenge in a relationship: accepting things that you do not understand.

    2. Most people are capable of changing. All this means is that, for most of us, there are no insurmountable obstacles IF we want to change ourselves.

    3. However, change requires motivation. No one ever tries to change themselves simply out of idle curiosity or to see if it makes someone else happy. They may get a new hairstyle or try something new in their wardrobe, but they don't change their core values, beliefs, and practices just for shits and giggles.

    4. Most people are happy with who they are. If they were unhappy, they would already be trying to change. Most of us are comfortable with who we are and we have no reason to change. We are quite accustomed to how we act and how others respond and there's simply no reason to upset our life to that extent.

    5. So, most people are CAPABLE of changing, but most people will not change.

    6. Therefore, you can start dating someone with the expectation that they will change for you, but you are probably going to be disappointed with the results of that approach.

    7. Instead, you should get to know someone and decide whether you can be with them - just as they are right now - for the rest of your life. If the answer is "no, I can't handle them being like this forever," then you need to bring that relationship to an end and start looking for someone else.
  • Daniela1982
    You forget that movies are not real and that it doesn't happen in real life that often as you see in the movies, and especially those ones about love. That's why so many watch those types of movies, to fantasize about and trying to place their self in that person's shoes.
  • Vyxzuw
    There is a saying:
    You can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved.

    No matter how much you want to, you can't change someone, you can only show them the path.
    Also, known as: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.'

    Movies like this are basically emotional porn.
    The idea that someone is so into you that they will want to change.

    Which is frankly egotistical feeding, frankly. Basically Mary Sue style thinking.
    Why would someone think they are so great that someone would instantly known how awesome they are that they would change everything.

    It's understandable that a teen girl would think this way, but it's sad that this continues into adulthood.
    Although incels can think the same way. Somehow a women will see them for the great guy they are and will see past any problems they may have.

    It's basically like enabling an addiction, but in this case the addiction is a fantasy dream that they are so great if someone would only take the time to see it.
  • Massageman
    This reminds me of the old riddle.
    "How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
    The answer is, "One, but the bulb has to really WANT to change".

    People have to be able to change too, and if two people are in a relationship, the odds are they are both going to change if it is going to be a long-lasting relationship.
    The person has to feel that the result of MAKING the change is going to be more than the COST of making the change, just as in almost any other "trade-off" in life.
    Example - A guy/gal has a painful tooth but dislikes going to the dentist. Eventually, the tooth will hurt SOOOO much that the person will finally feel that the result (a better tooth with no pain) will outweigh the cost (the bother, cost and pain of going to the dentist). The benefit of the result from a change provides the motivation or desire to MAKE the change.
    My wife has firmed up her boundaries and become a (psychologically) stronger woman since we married, and I have become a more compassionate man: we both benefited from being with each other.
    • Massageman

      As far as the moveis, they're totally irrelevant to our relationship.

  • nightdrot
    Within limits, yes. You probably will not change the hardened criminal into a sweet and loving man and parent. However, love will cause us to do things we might not expect.

    My girlfriend never set out to change me. In fact, she tells me, often and emphatically, that she loves me for me and as I am. She tells me that I matter to her and that she needs me in her life and that of our children.

    Here's the funny part, she does not change me, but because she loves me and I love her I want to change myself. She makes me want to be better than I am. To be the best man I can be for a woman who has given me so much and who I cannot imagine my life without.

    Sappy as it sounds, I love her and I need her and because of that, all my life, in ways big and small - "Yes, honey, I'll pick my underwear up off the floor and put it in the laundry hamper.." - I will always try to change. To be better because that is the least I can ever do for a woman who loves me, who comforts me when I am worried, who holds me when I feel alone, who rolls her eyes and smiles and kisses me on the cheek when I get on my high horse - which I do a lot. Who gave me three little gifts who call me "Daddy" and are all excited when I get home.

    The list goes on. I owe her so much that the least I can do is to try to be a better person.

    Will the changes be dramatic, like you see in the movies? More likely than not, no. Nothing so impressive. That makes for fun and happy movies, but life is seldom that way. Sometimes it may happen, but don't set your watch by it.

    Still, good enough. Till my last day I will always try to be the better man. Partly because I owe it to myself - as do we all. Partly because my girlfriend has made me a better man and I owe it to her to keep trying.
  • MrOracle
    "Can a woman really change a man?"

    NO!!!

    ABSOLUTELY NOT! And any movies or stories that tell you otherwise are a lie!

    This is one of the very worst things that women do: get together with a guy who is unsuitable for her, and she knows it, but she believes she can change/fix him. That never, EVER ends well.

    If you want to have a long-term relationship (as opposed to a short-term fling or a casual relationship), then IT IS YOUR JOB to establish whether you have long-term compatibility with the man you are considering, and you MUST base that on THE MAN HE IS RIGHT NOW, never on the man you "hope he will become" because that's never going to happen.

    Do not delude yourself. If he is messy, or he blows through money, or he treats people badly, or he doesn't like to work, or he drinks too much, or whatever - HE'S GOING TO BE THAT WAY *FOREVER* and if you can't handle that, you need to move on RIGHT NOW.

    Get the idea that you can change a man out of your head, because YOU CANNOT. Only HE can decide to change, because HE wants to - but even that is rare.
  • CubsterShura
    "Romcoms are fun and cute, but not roadmaps on how to love and form/ build relationships." This is so important.

    One funny thing though. My ex used to tell me that he liked me because he saw potential in me and I was in love with who he was at the moment. He did say that he loves me the way I am but apparently it's my passions and what not that kind of drew him towards me and he believed that I'll be going places in life.

    I also don't believe a woman can ever change a man. The most she can do is inspire or influence... In the end he will change only if he wants to change. This is why I had to dump my ex. Before starting the relationship there was one thing about him that I disliked, and I told him he has to give that up if he wants to be with me or else find some other girl because otherwise this relationship won't work. He told me that he is willing to change that thing about him. He wasn't forced into this at all. He told me he's changing but one day I found out that he's not changing so I left him. Like I told him earlier this relationship wouldn't work if he didn't get rid of that one thing.

    I did this because I know I can't change him. If I was stupid I'd stay and take it on my hands to fix him. I can't do it. In fact, I'll carry this lesson with me in future relationships. I'm not even gonna enter a relationship with a guy who isn't the way I'd like him to be. If he truly wants the relationship he should come to me after improving himself, otherwise this won't work.
  • Thatsamazing
    It's not a matter of "can" versus "cannot." The point is you shouldn't be even trying to change him. These movies are fucking idiotic and clearly play to a deeply-ingrained female fantasy that is irrational and ridiculous-- if you love someone, you shouldn't WANT to "change" them.
    • I agree on that and neither should a man want to change a woman if he truly loves her. It works both ways.

  • AlexTheSeed
    I don't believe a woman can change a man, much less any one changing anybody. You can definitely have an impact, inspire or even encourage, but it's up to tbat person he/she to change.
  • supercutebutt
    YES! Olivia Newton John turned John Travolta from a straight gentleman into a bisexual gentleman. Apparently, he feels sex with dudes is better than sex with her! :)
    Can a woman really change a man? What are the movies telling us?
  • I don't dare try to change a man! And he shouldn't try to change me either! I love myelf and damn proud of Most of the things I've done for my life! And if he can't accept that then there's the door! Fuck him!

  • Kiran_Yagami
    Women have always been the stabilizing force in men's lives. Men rarely choose to settle down, starting being more mature and family oriented on their own. Women force them to do it. So yes, women can in fact change a man. In fact, men expect women to change them.
  • Corerue
    As much as those movies are Iconic and their stories interesting.

    In all of them, the man/woman made a choice to change because what they were changing for brought then more joy/fulfillment then their life previously had.

    The same goes for real life but again. A Man/Woman has to make a Choice. If they don't want to change then they won't. 🤷‍♂️
  • Passinggas
    If you can change him he "ain't" worth keeping. Most of these compatibility changes occur over time but are mutual and there is a center to it. But, if you are going in wanting to mold your bad boy into a househusband that cries. Just shoot him now.

  • A Woman should not change a man to whom they want or what the guys aspects are, if she sees something in the guy she wants to change, then she may see a quality in the guy already. It maybe her aspects that need changing. The guy may/will have some annoying aspects, and if it gets too much, then call it quits.

    But trying/wanting to change someone elses' complete personality so they can 'hang' around with them is not wise and can cause problems in the future!
    • Romance movies brainwash, i opt for more slow anime like 'Spirited away' or 'The grave of fireflies'.

  • Dargil
    They can't and shouldn't try to change us. But a good woman can inspire us.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEHPP3ysUAA
  • 7istant6alaxy
    "Most women look at people and see their potential"

    That is such ardent B. S. it invalidates whatever else you're trying to say.

    80% of women have mated with 40% of the men who have ever lived. Millions of women see potential in Justin Bieber - no women see potential in the millions of homeless men around the world.
  • genericname85
    no. what about this: you look for a guy that IS decent instead of picking some random douche in hopes to change him for the better some day?
  • FĂ˝rdracaDĂłcincel
    "A woman will enter a relationship hoping her man will change.. and he never does.

    A man will enter a relationship hoping his woman will never change.. and she always does."
  • BlackHeart1985
    If you are going into a relationship trying to change the person you are with you don't care about them you care about the person you want them to be, just leave before anyone gets hurt
  • chris0977
    Women have changed me. They've made me immune to criticism, rejection, guilt, shame, and embarrassment, and built a fearless machine that doesn't give a damn what anyone else thinks.

    Many women are given a vagina, and believe this gives them entitlement to look down on others ("I want a mature man, who takes care of himself, ect), as if all their hours are spent studying morals, virtues, and working on character development, as opposed to on social media, taking selfish, or obsessed with the latest fashion.
  • ronaldo75
    Not anymore. WOmen need to stop letting hollywood dictate what relationships should be. Men are a LOT more careful with women than we've historically been and the ability to stabilize a man is largely becoming a thing of the past.
  • sid_bang
    It depends! Movies show men change to bring in some twist to the story. In reality, there are two ways human mindset works whether it is guy or girl.
    1) Logic based thinking
    2) emotional based thinking
    Usually men are more logic based and women are emotional based.
    If a girl tries to change a man by emotions bit the man is logical, he will not change. If he is emotional dominant person, he will change. Experience says: "women think men should change after marriage, but they don't". Similarly, "men think women should not change after marriage, but women change".
  • BeHappy1985
    This is the main problem, all y'all are delisuinal and can't tell the freaking difference between movies and reality. First of all, people don't change, trying to change them will make them hate you. The hell is wrong with you? Look for someone you want the way they are not a project that will be a mission impossible and a waste of time for the both of you... FFS...
  • Tdieseler
    Why is it the woman always trying to change the man? Meanwhile telling the man to accept her as she is. Someone on here said it perfectly, "... trying to change him into what she thinks he should be". I mean you think men dont want the women to change in some ways too?
    If you have to change someone, you are better off finding another. I can understand working together to achieve some change, but when its one-sided... thats just BS and unfair.

    Also voting @FýrdracaDócincel 's opinion for MHO. Very true words. its like something in their brain snaps when they get some sense of security.
  • Gedaria
    It has to be in there to start with.. Most people put up a front to impress their friends. So it's not changing them they know how to behave. I he has had no guidance as a kid, all I can say keep well clear...
  • ask4any
    The movies don't tell us anything. They are meant for entertainment purposes only. If you need a movie to tell you the difference between right and wrong or common sense for that matter, you need to seek counseling.
  • Shafaq_Mahnoor96
    No it's not possible, guys are very set in their ways. They never change for a woman. Even if she's moulding and sculpting him to the way she wants him to be. The thing is girls are easily able to be fooled by guys. If a guy sculpts the girl to the way he wants her to be most of the time she'll fall for it, because she loves him dearly and doesn't want to lose him. But if it's a higher value girl or woman that knows her worth, and doesn't change for anyone then it's the opposite. For guys it's different, they aren't easily moved. And why would you want to change the way he is anyway? If you truly love him you wouldn't change any part of him.
  • Steve-Verucci
    Um I had this girl I used to date in high school that helped change me into a better person I used to smoke weed she helped me quit smoking I used to get mad easily and she helped me control my anger you know?
  • Киттйлинк
    Not really
    I think certain people are willing to change for others depending on how bad they want to have what they can’t get in their current state..

    Just like anything in life.. most want a lot of things but yet won’t make the necessary changes to get where they want or what they want...

    While others take an extra step and face challenges that help them make the changes that they must make to attain what they want in life and succeed instead...

    If you really want something you’ll make the changes... nobody can force you, you yourself have to want it enough to make those changes
  • wild_dragon
    U can never change a man.
    No one can change another person.
    It's just they behave differently when they are with u, and they go back to normal once you are not there.
  • Therisinghero12
    Even bad relationships can change people, sometimes for better sometimes for worse. I'll use my previous relationship as an example, now I won't go into details other than it was toxic, but from it I learned how to set boundaries and appreciate my friends more than I did, it wasn't all learning from bad experiences though, I also learned how to be more confident in myself and how to talk to people better; before that relationship I could never approach someone i was interested in, but now I don't even need to give it a second thought.
    So to sum it up, any relationship can change someone xD
  • MewsterMeow
    Movies are fiction. It's seldom a person, regardless of gender changes way in the long run... Maybe for some time, but they mostly often fall back after a while.
  • Bman4907
    This is painfully accurate.
  • heyzeuspiece
    A person can change for their own best interests, if those interests happen to be you then voila!
  • thinkaloudtolive
    We can only change ourselves. No one can change anyone, they must decide to do it on their own.
  • 90sGrunge
    In the context of "change" if we mean influence then yes, I've seen that, and it goes for both sexes depending on the personality.
  • crazy8000
    Looks like someone has been looking at to many made up stories for entertainment.
  • I think they expect some kind of $upport. They always say that if they have $upport, they will be successful. Well who doesn’t?
  • Likes2drive
    Maybe some habits but not the man himself unless you start from childhood
  • ikisseddeath
    I had a girl change me she showed me love Iv never fealt I learned to open up she was careful and slow with my feelings I was very angry and bitter with the world she showed me how to love the world by telling what she loved to do what she saw in people in things in the world itself I became very affectionate when I normally didn't like to be touched I learned to look into people's eyes when I had an anxiety problem with doing so she was careful showed me a lot tought me a lot I miss her to death she showed me mistakes can be forgiven I fealt a lot of change and changed a lot as a person iv slowly turned back into the person I was but still hold a light to what she showed and tought me it was a fairy tale that ended sadly but I'll forever love the time I had
  • CertifiedHandsomity
    Women can change men easily more than men change women. Men are the dominant social animals.
  • Sabretooth
    You can give a man confidence and give him reasons to live instead of simply existing
  • Jltakk
    The movies lie. Do not shape your love life or life in general on some media.
  • Karen1970
    You should never change the one your with.. there was a reason you wanted to be there..
  • SarahsSummer
    nobody can change anyone but them self.
  • beeboss94
    I believe woman can
  • aprilrose
    why spend the time, energy and aggravation?
  • No. Nobody can change anyone. Only you can do so.
  • themomo84
    Negative and unnecessary
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