Being in a relationship is a foreign feeling to many, especially in comparison to being single. You go from having your own space, friends, hobbies, plans to having another person constantly in your space, You make new, mutual friends, and have joint plans.
As someone who prides themselves on being a truly independent individual, being in a relationship was a very weird experience in the beginning. Besides having someone else to be reliant on and vice versa, being in a relationship was difficult for me at first due to the ‘perfect’ front I was trying to put on.
As a woman in today’s society, we are taught men love well-groomed women who always have their hair and makeup done perfectly and have the best outfit on. Not only that, you must always know what to say, be funny but not too funny, be respectful, not be loud but still be extroverted, and the list goes on and on. As someone who had never been in a relationship before my current one, it was definitely a challenge for me to lower my walls and let my partner see me for who I really was, and not some try-hard version of myself.
I vividly remember listening to a podcast months before I got into a relationship. I listened to a model speak on her experience with her personal romantic relationship. She mentioned how she was terrified of even letting her partner see her with bedhead first thing in the morning, so she would wake up one hour before he did and do her whole skincare and hair routine and then get back into bed so he could wake up to the edited version. I remember listening to this part and being in shock at how fearful women are of letting their partners see the less perfect and real versions of themselves.
Fast forward a few months later when I was in a relationship of my own, I did the same exact thing! I would wake up quietly before my boyfriend would wake up and brush my teeth (because morning breath is gross and who would want to kiss someone with morning breath), do my hair, pick all the morning crusties out of my eyes, and do my skincare so my skin was all glowy and moisturized looking. As a raging feminist, I could not understand why I had to constantly show my boyfriend the best version of myself, regardless if we were on our 20th date or chilling in bed watching movies.
I felt as if there were constantly cameras around me and I had to look and act my best. Especially, since my boyfriend had no issue showing me all the good and ugly parts of him, and this only made me love him even more. But for some reason, I could not let go of trying to be the perfect partner.
My partner thankfully caught on pretty quick that I was showing him some edited and perfected version of myself. He was upset by this, and worked with me to stop essentially fake being myself. I expressed my fears of him leaving me for someone prettier than me if I didn’t have my hair or makeup done for a day, or him being disappointed at what was behind the shield I put on, and he assured me this was not the case with him. He even told me that me trying to be the perfect partner made him feel further away from me.
Over the next few months, he worked together to make me feel more comfortable and safe in the relationship, and now I go more days bare-faced and with messy hair than with a full face of makeup and some elaborate hairstyle. Letting go of the idea of a perfect partner only brought my boyfriend and I so much closer together and allowed us to strengthen our friendship within the relationship.
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