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Can a Man Change?

THERE’S THE joke about the woman who’s getting married and she’s frantic that she won’t remember what to do. “It’s simple,” says her bridesmaid for the umpteenth time. “You walk up the aisle. You stand at the altar. You sing the first hymn.” So the bride creates a little mantra for herself. It goes, “Aisle, altar, hymn. Aisle, altar, hymn. Aisle, altar, hymn.” Of course, if you say that out loud it starts to sound like, “I’ll alter him.” In other words, she’ll do what many women have attempted to do, which is to change her man in some way. To civilise him. To make him more sensitive, more responsible, more something. Few have succeeded. What they’ve ended up saying instead is, “Why is he so … uuunnhh?” — where “uuunnhh” is an expression of frustration, if not exasperation, and a catch-all for the ways in which the man is too one-dimensional.

Of course, a woman is not responsible for a man’s development. Let’s get that straight. He should sort himself out. And men can develop. They develop maturity, which is different from change. Maturity results in what we’ll call integration, and which we’ll define as being less one-dimensional, or less one-sided. In other words, being less forceful about “who he is” and “putting his stamp on things”, and more willing to be what the situation needs him to be—more flexible without seeing that as a loss of self or a loss of face. He may even demonstrate some of the behaviours of the man that “she” hoped to turn him into. Except, he won’t be that man. He’ll be his own man. And thank goodness, because when women get the man they want, they very often don’t want him. And that’s not a joke. Read more…

The Two Axes

Behold, the two axes. The answer to the question, “Can a man change?” leads us to the two axes. The answer, as this article points out, is that men do not change much along the solidity axis, but they can evolve along the maturity axis.
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The Maturity Axis

Men don’t change (much), but they can mature. The journey to maturity passes through four stages, each with its own distinct characteristics, and each belonging to an appropriate age range.

Stage 1
Men in Red

Appropriate Ages: 16-25

Men in the red stage are typically loud and rebellious, lazy and fun-loving, uncouth and unclean. Historically, we sent them off to war, or onto the sports field, to burn up all that energy. Of course, these days, young men aren’t allowed much “red”.

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Stage 2
Men in White

Appropriate Ages: 26-35

Men in the white stage are typically preparing for or moving into marriage, parenthood, and management. Like the “white knight” of old, they see themselves as rescuing – or sometimes rebellious – heroes.

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Stage 3
Men in Grey

Appropriate Ages: 36-55

When men reach grey, they bump up against themselves. All that they’ve sown through the red and white stages starts to bear fruit – or drama. This is the time of the midlife transition, which, if handled correctly, does not have to be a crisis.

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Stage 4
Men in Black

Appropriate Ages: 56+

Not all men reach black, the stage of wisdom. This stage is reached by integrating the lessons that come with significant loss and/or failure. Many men look out from grey and, instead of moving into black, turn back to white, or even red. Those who do move into black become wise, flexible, trusted elders.

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The Solidity Axis

Men don’t change (much) along the solidity axis, which gives us five categories of personality types. More about this axis will follow soon. Subscribe to the newsletter to be notified when new content gets released.

SOLIDITY CAN be broken down into five levels: very low; low; medium; high; very high. These are shown in the graphic below. The level of Solidity refers to the level of connectedness that the man has to ideas (less “solid”) versus things (more “solid”). A man who has a very low level of solidity, and who is therefore more connected to ideas, will do lots of talking and explaining, but runs the risk of not ever getting into action. A man who is at the other end of the spectrum, with a very high level of solidity, and therefore more connected to things, will tend to get into action very quickly without explaining himself and may even become irritable or angry if someone asks him to do that. In between these two extremes are three more levels, all of which are described below. Find out more. 

Find out more about the Solidity Axis
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The Man Matrix by Neil Bierbaum © 2021 Neil Bierbaum All rights reserved. No portion of this website may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by international copyright law. For information, contact the author.