Cupidity: where love and stupid meet. Stupid love—ever experienced it? Ever wished you hadn’t? We believe that stupid is as stupid loves. Think stupid thoughts, and end up with a stupid mind. Do stupid things, and, well, you get the picture. But hey, who hasn’t been stupid? Especially in love.

Most of the time when people experience Cupidity, it’s because of the lies they’ve bought and the truth they’ve not. Stupid lies, like thinking men and women are basically the same. You assume they have the same needs, motivations, and desires, so love should be easy. Just give ’em what you want, and you’ll get back more of the same. But then you do something like ask him what he’s thinking, or you tell her that something she’s worried about is “no big deal.” And your idea of what the opposite sex is thinking unravels right in front of you.

But don’t worry—acts of Cupidity aren’t disastrous, and they are most often reversible. They’re just what some like to call opportunities to “fail forward.”  Every failure at love is just a chance for you to learn more about what not to do. The following are two examples.

For her: Loving who you want him to become instead of who he is. Women are very good at spotting potential. Granted, in some cases that might be because there’s not a lot more than potential there, but the truth is, they tend to major in it. It doesn’t matter if it’s putting together a new outfit or designing a new living space, women have the propensity to nest, visualize, accessorize, and make over. When it comes to who a woman picks for a husband, she often sees him as he will be one day. Will he provide? Will he be successful? Will he love her the way she wants to be loved? If he isn’t there yet, a woman often just navigates based on the road map she has created for him.

And while many men have great potential, not all of them have an interest in said potential. In other words, if he isn’t who she wants him to be right now, he might never be. And Cupidity of it all is that she has fallen in love with an imaginary person instead of the one who is right in front of her. Everyone has potential, but when that’s what a woman falls in love with, she’s essentially saying, “I’m not in love with you; I’m in love with the future you.” While that might make sense and sound inspiring to the female ear, to the object of these so-called affections, it sounds like rejection.

And it is also a bit self-obsessed, isn’t it? I’m okay with you, but I’m really in love with my projection of who you could become. You’ll do as long as someday you become more. Ouch. That hurts the masculine heart, which wants to be loved for who he is, not who she wants him to be. When a woman thinks this way, she doesn’t have to say anything—he just knows. He knows because there are all kinds of signs that betray her heart. The biggest is that she has a weird fascination with changing him. She wants him to wear this instead of that. She wants him to take down that moose head and put up this Monet. She wants him to be more like her—to share his emotions and be more talkative or social. She wants him to have a better job, one that suits her—er, uh, him—better than his current comic-book store managerial position.

She pushes him out of his comfort zone, sure, but he feels a bit like a guy up in an airplane who might consider jumping … if the time were right and if he had a parachute. And behind him is a woman who is so confident that he can do it without a chute that she pushes him out of the plane when he isn’t looking. Frightening … and dangerous. The irony of the whole thing is that a guy will change if he has a desire to change. But if he’s pressed to change, he will most likely do the opposite and resist. So neither party gets the desired outcome from the situation. It’s a lose-lose relationship.

For him: Loving who she was instead of who she is. While women are always hoping that things will improve, men are hoping things won’t change. When a man picks out a woman, he picks out just what he wants and has no delusions about making her into something more. No, he sees a woman, likes her, and chooses her, not imagining her five years down the road—that’s too much work. So when she starts to change, he sees the old bait and switch coming on, and he groans. Men don’t see women as diamonds in the rough or worthy renovation projects. They typically don’t find excitement in change but instead wonder, What happened?

This can lead to quite a bit of discord when change inevitably starts to happen. There are always areas of change that are going to make a man’s life “worse” than it was in the beginning of the relationship. Whether due to natural biological aging or a woman “letting herself go,” when the things that were important to him start to disappear, he panics … and understandably so. In the areas of looks, sex, and play, men don’t do too well when things change, because change usually means “get worse” for him. But a man has to understand that a good woman is going to change—physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Because as believers, we should all be continually improving, and improvement requires change.

The wise man will look at all change in the life of his woman through the lens of God’s Word. If her change is more toward holiness and faith, then her change should encourage his own changes in the same direction. But if her change is more toward selfishness and worldliness, then it is his job as a leader to say something. This is important for the woman of God to understand. If her man points out her error—if he sees a change in her that takes her away from obedience and toward worldliness and he points it out—she should be quick to listen and quick to agree with him.

Change is rarely easy, but it is required in the life of one who is striving to become more like Christ. So men should not be afraid of change; they should be conscious of it and its impact on the souls of their wives.

Adapted from Cupidity: 50 Stupid Things People Do for Love and How to Avoid Them by Hayley and Michael DiMarco.  Copyright © 2010 by Hungry Planet, LLC.  Used by permission of Tyndale House Publisher, Inc.  All rights reserved.