Advice to a reader feeling anxious about appearance
Welcome back to another edition of Dear Dating Bitch – just like Miss Manners only way less lady-like.
Let’s dive in to today’s question, shall we?
(*Note: original question edited for length/clarity)
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Q: My boyfriend and I have been together for several years and have a very solid relationship. However, I’ve always been incredibly insecure about my appearance. I never felt like I was beautiful and am constantly comparing myself to other women. Because of this, I need a lot of reassurance from my boyfriend.
Yesterday, he told me that there’s a new girl at work, Hannah, that he finds attractive and admitted that he has a small crush on her. I wasn’t bothered by this – I always tell him that I want him to be able to be honest with me – and I told him that I thought it was fine, that I’ve been attracted to people before, too, and that I didn’t care as long as he didn’t find her more attractive than me.
Well, he didn’t say anything to that, so I asked him directly if he did. He didn’t really want to answer, but finally, he admitted that yes, he does think she’s better looking. I was really upset about this and started crying so I left to have some time on my own.
After a day or two, he came over and we talked about it. We had a really emotional conversation and it seemed like things were fine between us. During this talk, it came up that he’d confided in two of his friends about what happened. I asked him to tell me what they said. At first, he didn’t want to tell me because one of his friends said some harsh things, but I insisted, telling him that nothing they said about me could hurt me because his opinion was the only one I cared about.
Eventually, he let me see his phone and the text messages. I read through them and they weren’t that bad. Then I got to a text he sent them. He said, “my only problem with her is that I wish she was more attractive and had confidence in what I told her.” My heart stopped and I felt like I was going to have a panic attack.
Now, I don’t know what to do or how to feel. My confidence is completely shattered and I feel like he thinks I’m ugly. I don’t know how to get past this. What should I do?
– Love, Anxious about Appearance
Dear Anxious about Appearance:
My heart aches for you when reading this, and I empathize with your insecurity, but I think you’re making it unnecessarily hard for you both.
On one hand, you’re wanting your boyfriend to be honest with you. But when he is, you’re taking his words and over inflating them. And you’re asking him questions that you know will only make you feel worse. You’re perpetuating a lose-lose situation.
I’m not entirely sure how – or why – the conversation about Hannah came up to begin with, but I’ll assume that it was kosher and answer the question you’re concerned with here: whether or not your boyfriend’s attraction to other women somehow lessens his attraction to you.
To answer it simply – No. It doesn’t.
I’m sure you find other men more attractive than him sometimes. If you said you thought Chris Hemsworth was better looking and your boyfriend then accused you of not being attracted to him at all, you’d probably be really frustrated with him!
The point is, there will always be better looking women out there, no matter who you are. Even Angelina Jolie will get old one day.
Focus on Your Confidence
So, instead of worrying about who your boyfriend thinks is prettier than you, I think you need to work on your own insecurities. Let that be your focus.
Easier said than done, I know! If only we could all look in the mirror and love what we see – it would make the world a much happier place, I’m sure.
I don’t say that to be flippant or dismissive about your question. I’ve been where you are before too. In fact, I’ll give you a personal example:
Personal Experience Feeling Anxious About Appearance
There’s a very specific feature of mine that I’ve always been insecure about. Let’s call it breast size. It’s bothered me for as long as I can remember and in every single relationship I’ve been in, I’ve asked my partner if they found my small breasts off-putting. I insisted that I wanted their “honest” answer, too.
And what, dear reader, do you think they said?
Without fail, they’ve told me that my miniature cup size doesn’t bother them. And, yet, I pressed the issue.
Yes, but, would you prefer it my boobs were bigger? Would you find me more attractive if I had a larger cup size?
Eventually, they’d admit: yes, their preference would be a woman with a more ample bosom.
And what do you think my reaction to this admittance was?
Ah, interesting. Thanks for sharing – case closed!
It bothered me so, so, sooooo much. I’d get all upset, ask a million follow up questions, and feel damn near offended that their answer to the question wasn’t what I wanted it to be.
Logically, I can recognize how silly this is – that I’d let this one tiny thing about my body derail my self-esteem. But, it did. It became a focal point of how I saw myself.
I’d love to tell you that I’ve gotten past this – that I didn’t even bother asking my current partner about it… but, I did. He, too, has told me that my cup size is not his preference. And, yes, it hurt to hear. There are still times when I look at him and feel sad that I don’t fit his ideal body type – but I don’t.
He’d prefer it if I were bustier. Who cares? I’d prefer it if he had a six-pack. He doesn’t, and that’s fine, too! It’s not something I think about when I’m with him. It doesn’t impact how I feel about him, or how attracted I am to him. It has no bearing on our relationship.
So, here’s my advice to you, “Anxious about Appearance”
Ask yourself this question: what superficial trait about your boyfriend would you change if you could? What about other guys – is there anyone out there, anyone at all, that you think is better looking than he is?
Then ask yourself if that changes your feelings for him at all. Do you love him less now that you’ve admitted your celebrity crush is hotter?
I’m going to assume your answer is ‘No, of course not!’ And I’m going to suggest that you give your boyfriend the same benefit and take him at his word that he’s with you because he wants to be.
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Anxious About Appearance Conclusion
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