Over the past few years, I’ve slowly been dismantling all the beliefs I built up from a lifetime of watching chick flicks.
Here’s one such belief: the man should think that his woman is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen.
As it turns out, my partner does not think that. He doesn’t even think I’m a 10. Or a 9. Or an 8. In his book, I’m wavering around a 7.
I didn’t always know that. I knew that he didn’t spend his days showering me with compliments, but I attributed that to just his personal style. We’d been going strong for nearly 2 years, so I figured he at least ranked me pretty high on his attracto-meter.
But then we read through Radical Honesty — a book which forced us to face the truth about our feelings for each other, good and bad. The author urges all couples to go through a series of exercises, culminating in the scariest one: each of us listed everything we resented about each other, and read them a loud. We also listed what we appreciated about each other, but you can probably guess which list had the greater emotional impact.
I discovered then that my partner resented that he wasn’t more physically attracted to me — that I wasn’t as attractive as his dream mate. He appreciates a massive amount about me and about our relationship, and that’s why he wishes that my face was a 10 to him, so that I’d be compatible with him on all counts.
My reaction? First 5 minutes: mature, poised, totally understanding and beyond silly needs like wanting to be attractive. Next 3 hours: sobbing under my blanket, hiding in my room.
At one point, I crawled out of my blanket to draw a cartoon, which summarized my feelings pretty well and gave me a crack of comic relief:
In a movie, this would be the point where the man would backtrack or say “Now that I love your soul so much, your face has grown so much more beautiful!” Spoiler alert: my partner didn’t do that. He gave me time to go through my emotions and held me to remind me that he was still here.
So I was faced with big questions: Do I hold onto the belief that you can’t be with someone unless you’re ridiculously attracted to them? Do I leave him, so that I can find someone whose body does happen to be wired to enjoy mine, and I can float around all day in a sea of adoration? Do I stay with him, because our strong emotional connection is more important, and hey, at least now it doesn’t matter so much when I get old and wrinkly?
I considered all those options. It was tempting to leave, to pursue a partner that would assure my ego and maintain my body image for me. It was equally tempting to take this as a sign that I was fooling myself, trying to be with him, and that I should give up.
Fast forward 4 months, and we’re still together. He still feels the same about me physically, and I about him. I think we’re now stronger on an emotional level though, thanks to our dive into radical honesty and our slow recovery from everything getting put so nakedly out on the table.
It’s still entirely possible that we won’t be together in the future, and that our physical attraction mismatch will be the thing that tears us apart.
But it’s pretty great how we’re together now — and it’s refreshing to realize that our relationship can be great even if it doesn’t adhere to my long held chick-flickian beliefs.
I’m being vulnerable in sharing this story because I’ve never heard this story told before and maybe if I tell it, other people will tell stories like it. And then next time, I’m crying under my blanket, I will feel less alone. :)