Do We Really Give Up Looking Good Once We're In A Relationship? Experts Weigh In
It’s a Saturday night you’re going out with your girls and you’re ready to dress to the nines and you cannot compare anything to the feeling of getting dressed up and looking like an absolute hottie.
For most women, our appearance is something we take pride in. I mean it’s only natural considering society has told us what we should look like for centuries. This comes with bags of insecurities about your body, hair, and skin but these are the joys of being a woman, right?
However, making effort with your appearance doesn’t look the same for all women though. Not all of us are girly girls who enjoy wearing a full face of make-up or getting our nails done. Some women simply enjoy taking care of their skin, or putting some fragrance on before they leave the house.
When you’re single, you’ll do anything to remind yourself how gorgeous you are.
Let’s be honest, as much we love dressing for ourselves, we do like to make an effort to attract a potential suitor. It’s nice to know that people find you attractive and there’s no harm in admitting we like the attention.
So when you finally do find that special someone and eventually settle down, it feels like you’ve won. So much so that when you get into a relationship you forget the reason why you made so much effort with your appearance in the first place.
This is what can be referred to as ‘Boyfriend Air’, the latest trending topic on TikTok. It’s when a woman who is in a relationship with a man stops making effort with the way she looks when she gets into a long term relationship.
i just don’t get it but he still looks at me like it’s day 1🥰 #boyfriend#relationship#fyp#asking#rizz
♬ original sound - emma
It also touches on the idea that your appearance and hygiene start to dwindle the more you spend time with your boyfriend as men’s hygiene can be quite..interesting – but let’s focus on the former theory for now.
Though the theory is new to the clock app it’s something women have been experiencing for years.
Boyfriend air theory isn’t always your partners fault ✨ #boyfriendair
♬ original sound - luxaux
But what does that say about the way we see ourselves? Are we just making an effort with the way that we look so can attract a partner? Tahiti who is a 21-year-old student from London realised about a month or two into her relationship that she was making less effort with her appearance.
“It was lockdown during that time so that also explains why I hadn’t worn make-up for months,” she tells HuffPost UK.
When she first started dating her now partner she wore make-up every-time they met-up so she could live up to what she looked like on Instagram: “I soon realised he preferred me with minimal make up.”
Equally, she explains that her partner makes her feel pretty when she hasn’t made an effort with her appearance.
“Since being with my boyfriend I have felt more comfortable within myself and my looks even when I am in my natural state.”
’So although I do make less of an effort, I don’t feel any less within myself. Now lockdown is over, I’ve stuck to the no-makeup look. Before I met him, I would never leave the house without makeup, but he has made me feel at ease and realise that I am pretty either way,” she says.
She now feels comfortable leaving her house without a full face of make-up as long as her hair is tidy and her lips are moisturised. “When we go out for dates and for dinner that’s when I put on my full face of makeup and make sure my hair is curled.”
Hannah Ross, a 28-year-old tarot reader from Glasgow, also met her partner just before the pandemic and they quickly moved in together. “I’d say I stopped making an effort because I felt 100% safe to be my authentic self, no makeup, sweat pants the works.”
“I’ve worked on my self-esteem a lot in my early twenties, however, it still is a challenge to be super confident and completely myself in all areas of life,” Ross adds.
Ross feels caring less about her looks is an achievement. “Plus, when I stopped making an effort on my appearance I had the energy to put more effort into building a strong relationship and communication. Win-win!”
Ross also shares that this is the first time she’s felt free from being heavily sexualised by a male partner. “In my younger years boyfriends want tight clothes, sexiness, bigger cleavage, an hourglass figure. I didn’t know any better and wanted to please them so based my style on their male gaze.”
Now Ross and her partner encourage each other to express their true selves through their jobs, passion, and style. “Creating a safe space to wear what we want. For example, my favourite jumper is velvet green with sequinned dinosaurs that can change colour from pink to green. My inner child is having a field day when I wear that!
Both Tahiti and Ross have found safe spaces in their relationships that have allowed them to stop making as much effort with their appearance. However, Counselling Directory member Mary Aaron thinks both men and women get to a stage in a relationship where they start thinking about themselves less.
“Arguably when we get passed the romance side of the relationship, we must look to what the next stage is, we hear and read that when the “honeymoon phase” is over, we just become “that” couple, work, sleep, bed, perhaps sex, more perfunctory than passionate, and of course bills and life,” Aaron says.
“Both parties struggle to maintain making themselves feel special and stop caring if they look special for each other,” she adds.
Appearance slowly becomes less of a thought, according to Aaron. However, if a woman starts to feel like she’s lost herself she should start to analyse why that is.
“Feeling lost in my opinion is rarely about the person we are in the relationship with, it is usually about what we have given of ourselves to the relationship,” says Aaron.
So yes, when we finally get a bae we do tend to focus on our appearance less but this isn’t always a bad thing. We might have just found the person who makes us realise that true beauty is on the inside.
Maybe that is what being in a relationship is all about.