General Question

YARNLADY's avatar

Is it usually women who want to change men rather than the other way around?

Asked by YARNLADY (39517 points ) June 29th, 2012

Please show evidence to back up your answer.

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19 Answers

janbb's avatar

That seems like such a subjective question; what kind of evidence are you hoping to get?

Sunny2's avatar

Both men and women can have controlling personalities. I’ll be interested in hearing what others have to say.

josie's avatar

My ex-wife was always trying to change me. Thus, ex-wife. That’s my only experience

Linda_Owl's avatar

I don’t think it is generally either women or men who want to be free of their partners – it seems to happen on a regular basis to both of them. Some marriages tend to have individuals who want to be in control of both their partners & their lives, & when this happens, frequently divorce will soon follow. Personally, I think women will try longer to find a way to make things work, than a man will – but that is only my opinion.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

No, I think both men and women have things about their partner they’d like to change.

The cat ate my evidence.

Blu's avatar

From first hand experience, yes. Most of the women in my life have expected or demanded from at least one male in their life that they change. As my father likes to say, “Women marry men expecting them to change, they don’t. Men marry women expecting them not to change, they do.” Probably explains why my father sometimes goes around asking my mother “where did that sweet, patient girl that I married go?”

NuclearWessels's avatar

In my experience there’s a bit of a double standard here. When a woman tries to change a man she’s seen as just being helpful – she wants to help him become a better person. When a man tries to change a woman he’s just being controlling.

Blackberry's avatar

There is no evidence, because it’s subjective.

Ponderer983's avatar

There isn’t any evidence to be put forth for this question. However, my personal opinion is that it’s a 2 way street, but women may voice their desire more for a man to change, whereas a man may think it, but not say anything and “deal” with it. But maybe that’s just my exprience with passive aggressive men :/

LittleLemon's avatar

@NuclearWessels It could be my past that’s biasing me, but when I think of examples from both sides, the first thing that comes to mind is the age-old, “It hurts my feelings when you masturbate,” which the majority of the time (in my experience) comes from women asking men to change. Edit: This could be a touchy subject, but I wouldn’t necessarily see that as a “making the man a better person,” though I won’t deny that stereotype is pretty standard.

To cite my sources:

wundayatta's avatar

I think that I read more stories where authors say a woman is trying to change a man. I have no idea if this means anything about reality. But the myth is that men are the “beast” and they need civilizing, and women are the ones to do that. I think that in stories, they are generally successful.

So a man has raw talent, but needs a woman to channel that talent. She gives him motivation to make money or to go to school so he can get the skills he needs to make money and take care of the family, etc. The woman is more organized and can therefore make a plan and tell the man what to do. He doesn’t have to think these things through any more. That’s one myth, anyway.

Then there’s the Pygmalian myth, where the man finds a diamond in the rough and educates her and civilizes her and then, of course, falls in love with her. This is a class thing, where the man is upper class and the woman is working class, and he raises her up to the upper class.

Then there are the codependency issues. A man and a woman are so wrapped up in each other, and they imagine the other will somehow be perfect if only they would do this or that. A woman might think she could rescue a man who is a drunk or a drug addict.

I’m sure there is much more. Maybe my musings will spark some ideas in other people. In the end, though, I’ll bet that both men and women seek to change each other equally. Or, if we could find any data about this, we might find that. But I think it is a tendency that all of us have to one degree or another, but that it is not related to gender.

That’s just a theoretical approach to the problem. Now someone could go out and analyze plot lines in various stories and see how often it comes out one way or another. Also, you could look at a sample of relationships described in the psychological literature and count how often it looks like one or other gender is doing more of the trying to change.

CWOTUS's avatar

You’ve never heard the old saw on this topic?

Women marry men hoping they’ll change; men marry women hoping they won’t.

Everyone changes, only not everyone’s change is expected or desired by the marriage partner.

augustlan's avatar

From personal observation of people I know, I’d say women are more likely to try to change a man. As a woman, though, I’ve had at least one man try to change me, too. It’s never a good situation, though, no matter who’s doing it. :/

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’d say both from how much I overhear at work. The women hope the men will change and grow out of selfish or destructive habits and the men hope the women will take better care of themselves or try to look more attractive.

syz's avatar

Not in my experience.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It would take an unbiased survey and/or study in order to derive an answer to this question.

If you were to ask for our personal opinions, my answer would be this: It is probably equal when it comes to male vs. female. The difference may be that, in general, the women who desire a change in their partner tend to be more vocal about it.

Blueroses's avatar

I can only think of this song, sometimes called Tender Woman.

You knew damned well I was a snake, before you took me in.

People can change but not because you want them to.

YARNLADY's avatar

All above – thank you. I was hoping for studies, but I believe @wundayatta provided the best answer so far.

I will have to amend it to your personal opinion, please.

mattbrowne's avatar

Is it usually fools or perfectionists who want to change their spouse.

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