I have a good friend, let's call her C. C. is an unfailingly kind person, honest and loyal. The friend I was chatting with yesterday, who we'll call N., is also a close friend of C.'s. C.'s deep traits, her virtues, are solid and do not change.
Her more superficial traits do. I've known C. for almost twenty years, and I've barely seen any of her hobbies. She does whatever the man she's attracted to does. I knew the men, not all of them were very good but most weren't manipulative or pressuring about these things; and C. takes them on when the relationship is just starting, not when she's trying to keep it. With hardcore RPG guy she was a gamer; with athletic guy she was an aspiring athlete; with fishing and hunting guy she's a fisherwoman. Chat friend N. and I talked with C. about this because it seemed a bit worrisome, but nothing came of that.
N. feels that my second wife who's now divorcing me, T., has changed enormously in recent years. Neither of us knew T. for very long at all before T. became attached to me. I came along at a very difficult time in T.'s marriage, as I've told, and comforted her and praised her and gave her backrubs and encouraged her to get back to sex with her husband since she still loved him. He left her for his best friend's wife and she fell in love with me, and I with her.
My friend N. thinks that my wife T. did the chameleon thing with me. T. became a regular churchgoer, which I don't think she was before; she started target shooting and carrying a sidearm; she thought highly of the value of regular sex in a marriage. But she didn't talk deeply about any of these things. All of them have disappeared now.
T. has said she lost herself and had to find herself. That didn't make a lot of sense to me. I wasn't pushing her into being something or other; I was no pushier with anything with her than I am online about monogamy. I pretty much encouraged her in every interest, when she wanted to travel for work, anything*. But apparently she could not be herself with me, and had to find herself somewhere else.
Before we got married I laid all that emphasis on the importance of sex to me in a marriage. She agreed, apparently wholeheartedly, but it was a superficial agreement. She fooled me and I have no doubt she fooled herself as well.
It's kind of weird that my first wife left me for her "safety" and my second left me because she needed to find herself, away from me. I've got a lot of flaws, but neither violent nor controlling are among them. Both cases point to areas where I'm actually already really good. It makes learning from the experience more difficult. Maybe lesson 1 is some people are really hard to please.
* There's an exception to this. We both were RPGers at first. I came to resent them because having sex with me was always something she didn't have the time or energy for at 9 pm, but she kept staying out until 2 am at RPGs; I kept asking her to wear costumes for me that she wore to cons, but she didn't; etc. Role-playing sex was a fantasy of mine, but here my wife was role-playing with everyone but me. In the last six months or so of our marriage I was not encouraging her much in gaming. There were probably some looks and heavy sighs when she'd tell me about the games afterward.