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I had a bit of an awakening – or maybe a reminder – about men this weekend that I thought was so critical: Men are who they are and they do not change for anyone, including you. We talk about this concept all the time in sort of abstract ways like, when people tell you who they are listen, or don’t get into a relationship thinking you’re going to change a man – all of which falls under this umbrella. But my takeaway was women could learn a thing or two from this mentality. We need to be who we are and –key point –remain who we are when a man comes along.

My enlightenment came about during an all-male panel event I attended Saturday night. In front of a room of about 100 or so women, six men were candid about their thoughts on monogamy, commitment, independent women, and all the other questions women are dying to know about why men are the way that they are. Despite the differing thoughts on traditional male-female roles, why men need to have it all together before they get married, and whether it’s possible to be faithful, there appeared to be one common thread between all the men on the panel. In their late 20s and 30s they were who they were, and their attitude toward the women in the lives – past and present—was if you don’t like it, you are free to leave.

That statement reads a lot harder than it sounded during the event. Well, actually maybe not, but nevertheless I respected it. For instance, when the topic of why it takes longer for men to be ready to walk down the aisle, the gist of the responses was men aren’t taught to anticipate settling down one day and so it takes them a little more time to embrace the thought and get on the married train. But the bottom line was they are on their own timeline to being ready and they’re not going to adjust that simply because a great woman (i.e. you) comes along. The great thing, though, is we also have our own timeline and if it doesn’t match up with his, guess what? We are free to leave.

See that’s the part we as women tend to forget. We think men are the only ones with watches and we have to stammer along without paying any mind to our biological clocks. Oh, we know it’s ticking we just act like we don’t have a hand in quieting the sound by finding a partner whose watch is actually in sync with ours. The truth is, no one holds us hostage in relationships but ourselves and the same way men plainly remind us that we’re free to leave, we need to revel in that freedom.

Too often women try to bend, adjust, wait it out, hope for the best and point blank change in hopes that they’ll get their man to come around and be the man they want him to be when they want him to be it. While they might appreciate the change in your attitude, it’s not going to speed up their time clock any faster than what they’ve already deemed it to be. The same way there’s nothing women can do to stop a man from cheating, there’s nothing we can do to make a man want to commit at a certain time. It’s his choice and he’ll do it on his time, rightfully so.

As much as men hold the stereotype of wanting to fix things, women are notorious for wanting to make something right – a lot of times something that is so wrong. We know when something isn’t right and likely won’t ever be right but we won’t let go of the possibility that one day it could get right. So, we stay, we wait, we waste our time, and get mad at the man for not doing backflips and jumping through hoops like we do when in reality we need to take a cue from him and politely remind ourselves who we are, what we want, and that we are free to leave when we aren’t receiving those things.

This isn’t to say that compromise won’t happen. You can’t successfully co-exist in a relationship without it. This isn’t even about having a clear list of non-negotiables. It’s about having an understanding of who you are and not compromising that just to be with someone who obviously isn’t right for you in the hopes of making him right. Instead of trying to make men bend, stretch, pull, and adjust to be what we want, we need to take them as they are and leave them when who they are is not congruent with who we are. We also need to respect that realization. Unless the man completely presented himself as something totally different from the get-go, he is the same man you met day one and he is walking the path he told you he was from day one. I know you thought everything he told you was tentative until you won his heart, but I stopped by to tell you men’s plans are a little more permanent. A lot so, actually.

We’re the ones with the shaky foundation and who are often scared to communicate who we are and what we want because we’re afraid the man in front of us won’t live up to those desires. This is when the waiting game starts, and unfortunately for some never ends. I know everyone has us wrapped up in this man shortage and when you find a good man you have to hold on to him, but a man who is not on the same life plan as you isn’t bad, he just isn’t good for you. And this is the point when you need to thank the good man upstairs for the beauty of freewill because when we have that aha-moment instead of changing and adjusting to who he is to make it “work,” we need to remember we are free to leave and do just that in order to find the someone who is actually the right match.

*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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