Remember that hot guy in high school who dated every girl in his class, despite treating every one of them like crap? Why was this possible? Because women suffer from It Will Be Different With Me Syndrome. Sadly, it’s usually never different. Men aren’t rocket science. In fact, they are like The Weather Channel. You can predict fairly accurately what weather lay ahead, based on their past behavior.
The type of men that lie, cheat, or are guilty of general douchebaggery come with a track record. Other women warn you to stay away, his friends tell you about his sordid past, and yet, you’ll convince yourself that you and you alone are up to the challenge of taming him.
There are times when our hopes and beliefs contradict all available evidence and can actually hurt us. Simply wanting someone to be an awesome guy doesn’t make him an awesome guy. Just ask Katy Perry. Despite all evidence that John Mayer is one of Hollywood’s biggest love-em-and-leave-em type of guys, she’s convinced herself he’ll be different with her. I hope she likes her love life discussed intimately on Twitter, or on the pages of Playboy, because that’s what she has to look forward to. It won’t be different with Katy. Just ask Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston, Taylor Swift, or Minka Kelly.
I’m not judging. I’ve been in Katy’s place before. I’ve suffered from It Will Be Different With Me Syndrome and I take full responsibility for it. I had been single for a while and fairly frustrated with my dating prospects when Sam* showed up. He was sweet, flattering, generous and knew how to fix my car. He was also divorced with a young son, had cheated on his ex-wife, was hooking up with a mutual acquaintance (using her mostly as a babysitter for his kid). I had enough information to know what lay ahead. Yet, I foolishly believed everything he told me: that the ex-wife was crazy and cheated on him and that he broke it off long ago with the mutual friend he was dating. All untrue. I chose to gloss over the ugly stuff because he was so persistent about pursuing me, and I enjoyed the attention. Two months later, when I caught him cheating on me, the only person to blame was myself.
It Will Be Different With Me Syndrome is a recipe for disaster. Yes, there are those urban legends of men turning around for the right woman. Maybe it’s true, but it’s never happened to anyone I know. Here’s why it’s masochistic and dangerous and should be avoided at all costs:
It’s delusional. No one likes to hear “I told you so,” but it will be hard not to when he treats you exactly the same as all the others. Women place themselves at a disadvantage when they blindly ignore past behavior. His past behavior is telling you, like a story, how things are going to go with him. But for some bizarre reason, a defense mechanism to not be wrong about the guy kicks in, keeping you with him even when you know you shouldn’t. If you indulge, it will probably end with a proportionate amount of heartbreak.
It will wreak havoc on your friendships. Armed with the info that this guy is a total asshole, your friends will try everything to talk you out of it. They’ll want to discuss any bad behavior and question why you are still with this guy. Unfortunately, it’s hard on friendships and can leave you alienated when things go sour. Your friends are not the enemy. They just aren’t too blinded by lust to ignore his warning signs.
It requires you to make excuses for him. It sucks to defend the guy you’re dating. In fact, you really shouldn’t have to. Everyone has bad days, but if you find yourself constantly explaining his absences, or his “friendship” with his ex that you’re so okay with (when you probably aren’t), or the provocative things he says on Facebook or Twitter, it just makes you look foolish in the end. Relationships aren’t supposed to make you feel that way.
People fundamentally don’t change. People change, but they rarely change fundamentally. Change in behavior patterns, for the most part, happens very, very slowly. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but a man with little regard or respect for the woman he’s seeing is only being validated for his behavior when good women continue to date him. If a guy has cheated on every girlfriend he’s ever had, and you began your relationship while he was cheating with you; why would you possibly think this behavior stops with you? The chances that he’ll cheat on you are astronomical, but more importantly, why do you want to reward that type of behavior? You’ll inherently have trust issues in your relationship, and starting off with major trust issues is just choosing a really rocky relationship road.
* Name has been changed.