How do I give Tin Man a heart?

What’s the best way to give somebody a heart?
Do you beat them until they beg for mercy, or do you hug them until they hug you back?
I’m not dealing with a psychopath here - just someone who was never taught to feel compassion for other people.

Don’t bother trying. It would be like trying to teach a dog to play the piano.

But she wants to marry me in about a year, so leaving her would break her heart.

After a certain age, if it hasn’t happened, it’s not going to, unless something really traumatic happens, and even then people rationalise everything away…

Sounds as though you’ve got a bit of a problem that involves communication. This person has a personality trait that you find you can’t live with, in a companion. One of you is going to end up miserable about it. Once I would have said “If everything else is worth it, hey, maybe you can just make the compromise. Learn to live with it and hope for a happy ending”. But now I would honestly say it’s normally best, when there’s an issue that just can’t be resolved (and a personality trait is the mother of all “issues that can’t be resolved and can seriously hinder one’s happiness as a companion”), for both people to leave it at that and avoid both of them being unhappy. If you split, both you still still have a chance; if you compromise your happiness to a level you’re not happy - either of you - then one of you will be miserable, and eventually you both will be.

Of course compromise is an important part of the relationship; but not so much that you lose yourself. Again, this goes for both parts. It’s just as wrong to change ourselves totally as to expect someone else to change completely for us.

Now, a bit of perspective: I’m 27 and just finished a 6-year relationship because of similar differences, so obviously, I’m not impartial. Other people here may give different sorts of advice, and it’s best to know their context as well, because our advice is always shaped by our experiences.

And some more perspective: Bit heavy for an IF forum, but hey, thanks for the confidence. :slight_smile:

EDIT - Some more context: I have high ambitions for myself and my chosen profession, which happens to be an artistic one. It’s extraordinarily demanding, not in a “28 hour day” sense, but in a “most days I’m thinking about it, one way or another, every single waking hour”. I’m not a laid-back kind of guy. All of these things influence my advice, and if you’re nothing like me you’re better off not listening to a word I say. :wink:

I realize that it’s common to answer “Just give it up.” when it comes to relations that you can’t solve.
Why is that?
If I come to you with a complicated math problem, you probably wouldn’t answer the same way if you didn’t know. You wouldn’t try to discourage me as a sort of solution.
Breaking up is ALWAYS an answer if you don’t know how to get things to work. …but that doesn’t mean that you should see that as the best solution just because you can’t come up with an actual one.
I’m not asking if I CAN or not. I’m asking HOW. …and if you don’t know, then you simply don’t know.

Try to understand her, as she sees herself. You will see that she has a heart and you don’t need to give her one.

What she’s doing, is basically that she spends most of the day trying to make sense of the heartlessness of her mother. She watches cop shows that shows people “getting what they deserve” and shows that generally shows people that are meant to be despised - the only world within which abuse is justified and makes sense. Her mother does the same thing because her mother was an asshole to her. Childabuse creates the most despicable people of all: Cops.

Because life’s too short, basically. Because if you fail a math problem, that’s it. But if you try and prolong a relationship that doesn’t work, it will eat you away, and it will affect the other person as well.

If this bothers you so much now, it will still be bothering you in ten, fifteen, twenty years’ time. You won’t change her, because people don’t change, and she won’t change you. At best you’ll both pretend to be slightly different for each others’ sake, but it will always bother you, and it will grow and fester.

If this doesn’t bother you THAT much, then it’s not a problem and you can live with it and you won’t change her.

God, I’m too young to be this cynical. :stuck_out_tongue: Look, I’m all for people trying their best in a relationship, making compromises, it’s just that the more you compromise and the more you change the worse off you become - no-one should nullify themselves to be with another person. The deep, fundamental things don’t change, and wanting to change them is the first warning sign. What’s the old joke again, the problem is that women want to change their mans and men want their women to stay the same? It’s basically true.

Anyway, I understand that this isn’t something you want to hear (though you did post in a public forum, so you could hear ANYthing), if you’re still willing to try. I gave you my two cents and explained that it wasn’t gratuitous or frivolous (I spent six years trying to work something out, so kindly redirect your “sure, it’s easier just to break up” sentiments elsewhere). Do what you want with it.


…and I’m replying “I wonder if you SHOULD”.

Well, that’s basically another topic. Whether or not I should stay, is my business. I’m just asking how, and I’m also being general about it, because this isn’t just about a relationship, but about people in general too. Saying that there’s no possible way to make people make love instead of war, is extremely cynical. That’s basically giving up on life.

Not whether you should stay, but whether you should change her. But you are entirely right: it’s your business.

Not so. I mean, yes, you’re right in what you’re saying, but that’s not what’s being discussed here. We’re talking about someone with a specific personality trait which, to make matters worse, she got from her mother. Can she change? Would she change? Would she be happier? Would she be a better person? Who are we, who are asking these things, to answer them, to judge it? Sure, it would make YOU happier if she was more compassionate… and I’m sure it would make HER happier if you were more like so… and it would make YOU happpier if… you see where I’m getting at?

Fundamentally, people don’t really change. That’s almost a clichè. The question becomes, is it vital for us that it has to change? In that case, are we really willing to spend the rest of our lives trying to, and probably not succeeding? Or to stand by someone that has what we consider to be a defect? Sure, very different people can have great relationships, but not when one of them is trying to change the other, or bemoaning the other’s lack of something, instead of accepting it and living with it.

Now, there’s another point to raise: has she given you the slightest indication that she WANTS to change? Because if so, by God, you can help her, and you would apparently be glad to. If she has shown you in any way she is unhappy with that particular characteristic, then you can help her, and if you’re the closest person to her right now, you’ll be able to do more good than any other person in the whole world.

If she hasn’t, though… you can’t possibly help people who don’t want to be helped, or who have different priorities. I’ve been there.

It seems your general way of reasoning is defeatist. Let’s say that the topic is plumbing. First you narrow it down from a worldly issue, to a particular case of plumbing, and then you argue that in this particular case, it’s hopeless to do plumbing, because “who am I to argue with a pipe - isn’t that a little selfish”? You make it into a selfish issue and then you complain about it being a selfish issue, and on top of that you point at all the particular reasons for why it wouldn’t work, instead of trying to point at a solution.

Further, would people never change (as opposed to everything else in the world), psychology would be a complete waste of time and money, and so would discussing anything. People can change just fine, and they can also change even if they don’t want to. There are certain cases where ones brain isn’t fully developed, where the person has a particular inability to change into something he’s not born to be capable of, but those are special exceptions.

Finally, you say that “you’ve been there”. To me that sounds like something called “learned helplessness”: You fail at something, and from that you learn that it’s not worth trying again, because it would always fail. You can train rats that it’s pointless to try to escape, and then just open the door for them, and they’ll still think it’s futile to try to escape. Also, if I succeed in the same thing, then that would basically be an insult of your capabilities.

…so don’t waste your time trying to convince me that things are pointless. I’m looking for a solution - not someone to point at the problems.

Andreas, relationship issues are rather different than plumbing. I’m not saying that Peter is correct–I’m too young to believe that someone’s true nature can never be changed–but I do see where he’s coming from on it.

EDIT: [Context: As I’ve only dated one person and never been in a serious relationship I’m far less qualified than him to give advice on these things.]

If there’s a whole choir singing “It’s All So Very Pointless”, that still doesn’t change the fact that I’m looking for possible solutions. If I call for a plumber, I don’t need fifty people calling me, telling me that they’re not plumbers (and that by extension, there are no plumbers on this planet).

First off:

I’m sorry if I came across that way (just like you have, at times, come across a way that you didn’t mean to). I don’t want to convince you. I’m giving you my opinion. It goes completely against your world view, so naturally you reject it. That’s fine, and to be expected, and I don’t think I’m necessarily in the right, and I don’t think you’re necessarily in the right - there are as many worlds and rulesets and realities as there are different people to perceive it.

As for the rest of your post… either you are extraordinarily naïve or I’m extraordinarily cynical. Right now, either seems very likely.

I wish you the best of luck in what you’re trying to achieve, because it is beautiful, and you’re doing it for all the right reasons.

Also, first you want an answer to a vague question, then you say you also want to generalise it because you want to talk about people in general, then you want someone to fix your problem instead of many people saying that they can’t fix your problem. Newsflash: no one can fix the problem but yourself. In this place, we are open to discussion, and we welcome it, and I hope you leave with a few new ideas - ok, probably not from me, but from someone else wanting to chip in. But if you really want plumbers, go to a plumbers forum. Otherwise you have lots of people with different world views and experiences chipping in… and what else did you expect?

EDIT - Also, I can’t take your argument re “people changing” seriously. Superficial changes? Sure. Important changes? With some work. Deep, fundamental changes about the way they are and they perceive the world? Pffft, yeah, right - you’re going against a lifetime of conditioning and against the way the individual perceives themselves and the world around them, and even if you shock them into a different view, they’ll tend to rationalise it away, and explain it conforming to their own reality. It’s what we all do every single day.

EDIT 2 - One more edit and I’m off to bed. Where you appear to be going very wrong with your reading of my posts is that you’re assuming I’m drawing all of this from a single failed relationship. I’m drawing it from a lot more than that.

let me get this straight: you are the heartless tin man and is asking us for help on how to feel compassion for her instead of just leaving?

Well, first make them feel safe. If they feel safe then they can begin to relax a little, to let their walls down a little. Then the hugs can start to sink in.

And get away from the TV shows or videogames or whatever that reinforces the bad thought patterns. That’s partly a life-change, and since the change is coming from outside it likely won’t be welcome.

So be patience. This is something that could easily take a few years.

Encourage the pace of life to slow down, quite a bit.

None of that made any sense, at least to me. Maybe you took the plumber analogy too far, I dunno.

I used to be similar to her, and I’m the opposite right now, so I know that it can be done. It took a sexual assault to set me straight though, and I’m looking for a milder cure than that.

Yes, I was assuming that, but I’m still not looking for that “solution”. I am aware that I can leave her, and this topic is about any solution but that.


Thank you. =)
That sounds like a good solution. =)

And there’s the title of my next game. I’ll pitch it as “The feelgood event of the year!”