Should you change your appearance for a partner?
Have you ever thought you needed to change your appearance to satisfy your partner?
I’m often asked, “Should I change my appearance for my partner?”
This is a question that resonates with me personally, because I’ve asked myself this same thing in the past.
So in this post, I’m sharing:
- My own experience of ‘changing’ my appearance for an ex.
- Why working on how I looked didn’t help my relationship.
- Questions to help you decide if its your relationship that needs the work rather than your appearance.
- Why a healthy relationship should never be conditional on your appearance.
Watch or read below:
Should you change your appearance for a partner?
Today is my 10th Wedding Anniversary (yah!). So Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband, Chris.
In honour of our wedding anniversary, this post has a relationship theme. I specifically want to talk about something that I struggled with a LOT before I met my husband.
Prior to meeting Chris, I was in a relationship where love was conditional on what I looked like. My ex-partner was hyper critical of my appearance, constantly pointing out what he did not like.
Not only did these comments hurt, they left me feeling unattractive and unlovable. And, of course, my body image took a battering.
Sadly, I get many emails and blog post comments from women (and men) telling me that their partner criticises their looks.
Although these comments hurt, part of them also feels it is their duty to be attractive to their partner, and if they’re not, it’s their fault.
The question they ask me is, ‘Should I change my appearance for my partner?’
My experience of changing my appearance for an ex
To be attractive to my ex, I tried everything to be as pleasing to him as possible. I exercised to get a flat tummy, I removed and plucked every stray hair on my body and I dressed in a way that he liked (which was not always my preference).
When I attempted to change my appearance, did this improve our relationship? Did he love me more as a result? Sadly, no!
All this achieved was to move me further away from being my authentic self. As I tried to live up to his ideal, rather than being myself, I did not know who I was anymore.
And of course, the relationship did not last!
In contrast, from the moment I met my husband, he has loved me unconditionally. As I age, he accepts that I look different (as does he). But the important point is that our relationship is not just about looks – it is about a deep connection between us grounded in mutual love, respect, trust and understanding.
I certainly didn’t have the same connection with my ex. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d looked like his ideal version of me, it would have never worked, because we weren’t a good fit.
How decide whether to change your appearance
So if you’re wondering if you should change your appearance for your partner, I’ve got four questions for you to consider before deciding:
Firstly, is this change something you’d like for yourself, regardless of what your partner says?
For example, maybe your partner has been asking you to get a new hair style or change your wardrobe and that’s something you’d like to do too.
If the change is as much about what you genuinely want, go for it! On the other hand, if you don’t want to make the change or don’t feel comfortable doing it, stick to your guns.
Secondly, could the request to change your appearance be indicative of another issue in the relationship?
Perhaps the change your partner wants, or their constant criticism is a symptom of a different issue.
Have the lines of communication broken down or is something else amiss? Perhaps it’s time to discuss what’s happening in your relationship.
Thirdly, are you a good fit together?
I know this is a tough call. It was for me too with my ex.
But if someone is asking you to change your appearance dramatically, perhaps they should have picked someone different in the first place!
My ex once told me in a heated argument that he preferred blondes (I’m brunette)! How I wish I’d said, “Well maybe you’d better go find one instead of making my life a misery.”
If being in the relationship doesn’t feel good, it’s time to ask this question. Setting each other free could be the best thing for both of you (it certainly was with my ex and me).
Finally, are you in an emotionally abusive relationship?
This may be a tough one for you to answer, especially if criticism of, and attempts to control your appearance have been pervasive throughout your relationship. You may have become so used to it that it seems normal.
If you feel that the criticism is abusive or that your partner is using coercive control, please seek the appropriate help.
It’s my belief that being in a healthy relationship shouldn’t require you to change your appearance for your partner.
While they might have preferences for how you look – my husband certainly prefers my hair done a certain way, for example, the decision about if and how to change your appearance always lies with you.
A healthy relationship does not make love conditional on your appearance, and if it does, it’s not healthy.
Have you ever wondered whether you should change your appearance for your partner? I’d love to hear about your experience, so please leave me a comment below.