I’m a woman, age 30, who’s had two previous serious relationships and experienced the same problem in both.
Men are attracted to my sexy appearance and wardrobe style, but then want me to change.
Back in high school, I wasn’t very popular, so as soon as I could afford it, I took courses (makeup artist, hair and wardrobe stylist).
By early-20s, I’d perfected my look, using my sexuality as my fallback approach for entering a room.
I’m always the Sexy Girl that guys all notice first, even the married ones.
Recently, two of my closest girlfriends admitted that it’s annoying as hell, and said they believed it had caused my previous break-ups.
I realized that they’re right. Both men who’d initially been crazy about me, eventually wanted me to “tone it down,” so that I didn’t attract so much attention from other guys.
I resented their trying to control and change me, and broke up those relationships.
Now, I feel ready for a long-term relationship - hopefully, marriage. But I’m unsure how to be “me” without my false eyelashes, hair extensions, and slinky clothes.
Scared to Change Myself
The change you’re seeking is about self-confidence in the person you are.
Like a self-directed actor, you’ve relied for years on costumes and props to express an outgoing personality and attract men.
Many didn’t get past those flashy signals to realize how smart and ambitious you’d been in creating your image.
It worked for you. But not now, when you want mutual respect with true intimacy which involves being nakedly honest about your inner self.
You may be able to strip off some artifice on your own. If not, a therapist can help you see your true reflection that doesn’t only exist through makeup.
You won’t have to throw it all away. Just get comfortable with all that you’ve learned about yourself and accomplished from real abilities.
I’m a male 38, who’s worked hard to advance in my job. Now I feel very ready to try and find the woman I’ll marry and have a family.
But I’m a stubborn man. When I’ve been in a relationship where something goes even mildly wrong, or there’s an argument, I don’t compromise if I feel that I’m right.
I know that I need to change, but I don’t know how I can change something that’s been a part of me since childhood.
I also know that relationships don’t work if one person’s always right. But how can I maintain a happy marriage if I’m thinking a girlfriend or wife is always wrong?
Stubborn about Being Stubborn
Making changes in yourself gets easier when the motivation for it is more important than your fear.
Like the person in the previous letter, you feel ready to transition to another stage of adult life - becoming part of a committed couple, and living a family-based life.
Perhaps when growing up, and in your getting-established adult years, you felt strong reasons for needing to be in the right.
But no marriage can thrive when one person demands the higher ground by always being right. And children who are forever “wrong” compared to their parents, don’t get enough emotional support to become self-confident.
Again, not every change requires counselling. But being “right” in every argument and never giving in, approaches the need for anger management.
You and your future will benefit from getting professional help making important, rewarding change.
Reader’s Commentary Why one father prevented his parents from seeing his children (Ellie’s edit):
“At 16, I moved 100s of kms away and self-funded myself for senior high-school/university.
“Some readers won’t comprehend how bad life with abusive/ neglectful parents can get.
“When my father learned we’d had a child, he advised that my wife and I leave our infant in a carriage outside, with a dog as babysitter, and go get drunk in a beer hall.
“He considered that good parenting advice.
“My mother had used a firewood axe to threaten to cut off the heads of my siblings.
“I didn't tell her when we moved houses. The years since have been blissfully free of either parent showing up.
“During one uninvited past visit, she’d tried to get us to leave her alone with our children. That would never happen.”
Ellie - A sad history and understandable response to it.
Tip of the day:
An old/true saying: If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.