I have a friend that I worry about; she is what I would call a chameleon. She conforms her entire life (religion, beliefs, character, hobbies, even her style and the way she looks) to match a potential guy she is interested in. I wouldn’t worry so much about her if I didn’t see it becoming a routine and crazy cycle. It has always ended that she really gets hurt after every failed attempt to fit in. I am not sure how to help her. I truthfully believe she needs help because it happens so often now. I worry its tearing her down and she gets more confused with each failed attempt to conform to another person.
Sounds painful, watching your friend look for love in all the wrong places. Unfortunately, if you confront your friend about this pattern, chances are she’ll do the same thing with you that she does with every guy she’s interested in: conform to your expectations.
While her conformity to your concern may help you feel better about her plight in the short-term, it’s not going to do anything for her long-term. In fact, it will only perpetuate the miserable pattern she’s created for herself. I’d like to suggest a different approach.
I encourage you to get to know her better than you’ve ever known her. Become an expert on her life. Discover her likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, joys, sorrows, and so on. In the process of you learning who she is, chances are she’ll discover who she is as well.
I have a hunch that she’s never had anyone take a real interest in her because she’s been too busy accommodating and molding to the preferences of others. She may even unconsciously resist your attempts to get to know her better by giving shallow answers, changing the subject, or turning the questions and conversation back to you.
Your goal isn’t to change or fix her. Instead, the primary objective is to give your friend an experience with a friend who cares about her and doesn’t need her to be anyone but herself.
Chances are, as you become a more loyal, committed, and interested friend, she’ll begin to experience the acceptance she’s frantically searching for in these romantic relationships. Your acceptance isn’t dependent on what she does for you or anyone else.
So, have fun with your friend! Become the best listener she’s ever known. Ask her questions about herself and learn as much as you can about her. Show her over and over that she’s worth connecting to. You don’t want to become another person who needs her to be something for you. You can give her the gift of true friendship.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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