Here’s a great guest post from Lisa Copeland, with a situation that’s totally universal – wanting to change a man:
by Lisa Copeland
Kerrie, a single woman over 50 was dating Mike, a really nice man who just loved SUGAR. He ate sweets like it was his job- a cookie for breakfast, a cupcake for lunch and a normal meal with candy for dessert.
Do you remember the “Slim Fast Plan” celebrities like Kathie Lee Gifford used to lose weight? Well this guy claimed his sugar diet did the same for him.
To Kerrie, massive amounts of sugar consumption were a red flag for her. She knew what sugar could do to a person so she said something to Mike about it. Kerrie did it from a place of fear and concern for him but it came off sounding authoritative and controlling. It was obvious he didn’t like what she was saying.
When she finished baring her soul about his “problem”, he looked at her and said, ” I know you think sugar isn’t good for my health and don’t take this the wrong way but have you ever considered losing 20 pounds for your health?” It was true- She was not a skinny whinny.
In fact, she was stocky and curvy yet the men she’d dated had always loved her body just the way it was. Since, Kerrie was really healthy this man’s words floored her. He tried to make a deal with her-“I will give up sugar if you will lose 20 pounds.”
Kerrie was really pissed and Mike knew it. He tried to make nice with her but it wasn’t working. There were times Kerrie judged her own body harshly enough! She didn’t need someone else doing it for her especially from someone carrying an extra 20 of his own.
Kerrie realized she had a couple of options if she wanted to continue dating Mike.
She could laugh off his comment figuring he was only projecting his own fears and concerns about body weight onto her.
Or she could loose the 20 pounds for him but she knew this option of doing it for someone else wasn’t going to work without a lot of resentment on her part.
In reality, Mike had actually hit one of her hot buttons.
Kerrie had wanted to lose the extra weight since the birth of her last child 20 plus years ago.
For a long time, she’d chosen not to think about it and now she was kind of pissed because not only did Mike discover what she’d hidden from herself all these years he’d put it in her face to look at.
Kerrie felt with all her being that she was who she was and if Mike didn’t like it, he needed to move on and find someone more physically suited to his idea of what a woman should look like.
Kerrie came to me with this story. We talked a while about her options before she said, “I really like Mike. If he’d just end his unhealthy sugar addiction, I’d be so OK dating him.”
We began talking about how she was asking him to change too. To her, it had felt so different because Mike’s sugar addiction was just an unhealthy habit. In Kerrie’s mind, her extra weight was a part of who she was and with men she’d always had this take it or leave it attitude of accept me for who I am or bye-bye.
With some coaching help, Kerrie could see that what Mike had shared about her weight was not a criticism of who she was. He was equally concerned about her health as she was about his.
Because sugar was a habit and not a part of his personality or body, she thought what she wanted Mike to do was different then what he wanted from her.
Kerrie was trying to change Mike’s eating habits because heart disease and diabetes ran in her family and she was afraid if she got involved with him, she’d see the same devastation happen to him as she had seen with her uncle and grandfather from sugar.
After our discussion, Mike and Kerrie sat down and had a heart to heart about what each was feeling about the weight and sugar conversation.
He really thought she was great and if they got further involved he didn’t want to loose her to future health issues. He was trying to protect both her and himself by mentioning the weight. Mike and Kerrie realized that neither wanted to change their own habits since each felt healthy in their own body even though the other didn’t see it that way.
Yet, wanting to explore this potential dating relationship, Kerrie and Mike decided each was going to have to deal with their own fears and let go of trying to change the other just so he or she would feel safe in the relationship.
Follow up 2 years later: Kerrie and Mike are still together. He eats a little less sugar and she has lost a few pounds because it makes her feel better. By working on dealing with their own issues versus trying to change the other to feel safe, Kerrie and Mike are happy in a relationship that allows them both to be themselves while accepting the other person exactly how they are.
From Rori: Here’s Lisa’s website – she’s got really great stuff on there!: