Girl Talk: When In A Relationship Do You “Let Yourself Go”?
My plane landed after midnight last night. I could use about six more hours of sleep, and I’m not sure where, exactly, I stashed my hairbrush or my deodorant. Maybe I took a bath two days ago, but I honestly don’t remember. In any case, I haven’t shaved my legs and armpits for a week and my werewolf-ian brows need a good, thorough tweezing. But no matter! I’ve got on my leopard-print leggings and a hot pink t-shirt to, uh, deflect attention from all that.
I wouldn’t go into the office looking like this. Hell, I wouldn’t leave my apartment looking like this. So why is my boyfriend—the person I regularly depend on for oral sex and foot rubs—sitting just 10 feet away from me? Because I have gotten comfortable in our relationship. Perhaps too comfortable. I’m one of those girls who has a closet full of basically unworn cute clothes and shoes because I go to work pretty much every day in flats and leggings or jeans. It’s not that I’m not in love with the cute dresses, skirts and heels I’ve spent so much money on—it’s just way more important to me to be comfortable. I hate teeter-tottering in heels. I hate tight clothes I have to suck my gut in to wear. I hate when the wind blows up a short skirt, and I especially hate being cold. Clothes and makeup and shoes and accessories can be really exhausting! Besides, being a writer, it really doesn’t matter what I look like while I’m working anyway.
My guy is more than happy about all this: In typical dude fashion, he prefers when I wear t-shirts and leggings to anything with lotsa buttons or straps which take longer to pull off and toss beside the bed. The night he met me I may have been all done up in a silk, raspberry-colored H&M dress, a long, flowing Ann Taylor loft necklace, and J.Crew heels, but he still looks at me the same way when I wake up next to him every morning in sweatpants and with crusties in my eyes. That’s love, right? Being that comfortable in a relationship?
I can’t help but worry sometimes though that I only whip out the blush and bronzer on the rare days I feel like dressing up for The Frisky office, while back at home I can most often be found in a pair of black sweatpants from Forever 21 that I bought back in 9th grade for gym class. (Seriously, though, those things are beyond comfy.) I’m not a slob or anything, but it seems like my honey-bunny is getting the short end of the Sexy Jessica stick. Or at least the be-sweat-panted end. And don’t mistakenly believe he’s dressing to impress either. Pajama bottoms and sweats might be my comfy uniform around the apartment, but he’s not exactly Don Draper in his jeans and t-shirts with quirky slogans on them.
However, we’re technically still in the honeymoon phase. His parents and my parents haven’t even met yet! We’ve only been dating each other for five months and we moved in with each other just two months ago. Our relationship has moved quickly, sure … but have we moved so quickly towards being comfortable that we’ve stopped making an effort to impress each other?
I think I feel a little pressure to look cute around him because typically when a woman trades the lip gloss for the lip balm, and the Hanky Panky lace thong for the Gap cotton panties, people say she’s “let herself go.” I’ve always hated that phrase: “letting yourself go.” It’s so sexist, nearly always referring to a woman who has stopped dressing in a conventionally sexy way, as if it’s her job or something to look attractive for the men around her. Women have enough to deal with without fretting over how they look compared to airbrushed 19-year-olds in fashion magazines!
Nevertheless, looking cute for guys is a pervasive idea in our culture, one I don’t see going away. Whenever I do feel a little guilty for looking particularly grungy in front of my guy, I remind myself the things my dude loves about me—my smile, my silly sense of humor—have nothing to do with whether or not I spent 20 minutes daubing my face with a makeup sponge. He thinks I’m beautiful naturally, I remind myself, and it’s not fair to drive yourself crazy trying to look like other women do.
Some women, like me, would rather spend time reading, eating or sleeping than hand-washing clothes, picking up dry cleaning, or putting on makeup. But I’ll admit there’s still something to be said for good grooming/putting on actual clothes to keep the romance alive. That’s more of a “sometimes” thing, though, than an “every single day” thing. Occasionally, I’ll pull on stockings and a cute dress when we go out to dinner, or I’ll slip under the covers in some sexy lingerie while he’s brushing his teeth to surprise him when he gets back in bed. I think the surprise is even better because it’s fairly rare. He’s happy, I’m happy — we’re both happy the rest of the time in our comfy slob clothes. And ultimately, I firmly believe sweatpants make the best cuddling outfits: soft and comfy, easy to get out of, and easy to wash afterward. (Hee hee.)
What about you: Have you stopped making an effort to look cute in your relationship? You don’t need to be wearing a ball gown or a bespoke Paul Smith suit to snuggle, right?