Communication Crisis – So You Want To Change Your Man?

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He’s overweight. He doesn’t eat right. His hygiene isn’t perfect. His teeth could use a cleaning. His skin could use some cleanser and over-the-counter-acne-formulation. His breath needs help. What do you do? How do you tell him without making him feel bad?

When I read this letter from Andie, I realized what a problem this can be: Here we are, trying to break our old patterns of being attracted to a man just because of the way he looks, and giving a really good man a chance to grow on us, and, Yes, his charm and devotion DOES win us over…but he could still use a little (maybe even a lot) of help to make him more attractive to us on the physical level.

The truth is, what do you do when he needs an “extreme makeover”?

Here’s Andie’s letter:

“Hi Rori,
I just want to know what I can do about a guy who has too much facial hair that I do not like – also bad skin. We started dating a month ago, I was never much attracted to him but his charm won me and he is besotted by me.

Looks-wise, though, he is not all there. If he could just get his facial hair (very thick mono brows, beard ) groomed, and his skin cleared up, he’d be fine. We look so odd together that people are surprised – they don’t know what I see in him!

What can I do? I tried to hint but he was very abrupt and I knew I’d better not say anything. Unfortunately, each time I look at him I think if only he took care of his face. Please can you tell me what I could do? Many thanks, Andie”

Here’s my answer: Okay – we ALL want to change our man. We want to build on his “potential” and “make him over” – because there’s always something we don’t like about him. And what we have to know is that we can’t. We can’t make him over for life.

Andie’s man will always not care about his appearance. He may clean himself up for Andie, if she asks in the right way, but what will happen 5 years from now if they marry? Is she going to hound him into getting his hair groomed and keeping his skin clear with a simple, over-the-counter acne formulation? For life? In order for that to happen, he’d pretty much need to sign an agreement. And the problem here is – Andie doesn’t really want him “as is.” And all men want to be wanted “as is.” (We do, too!)

So Andie’s choices are these:

1. Don’t mention it, and love him the way he is (which she can’t do, as she makes clear in her letter).

2. Don’t mention it and resent him for the rest of their lives together.

3. Talk to him about it and see if there’s a solution they can negotiate together.

4. Break up with him because the whole issue of his looks is a dealbreaker.

Number 3 is not so easy, because it requires his cooperation. But in my book, it’s the only place to go. The only thing is, Andie needs to know that even if she gets some satisfactory solution in the negotiation – it may not last forever. And then what? Then she needs to know how she feels about option #4.

So, Andie – first figure out if you want to break up with him if he can’t turn himself around. Look – if his looks bother you, then they bother you. I’ve had women tell me about hygiene issues – no brushing of teeth, no bathing – and to me, I just couldn’t handle that. It would be a dealbreaker. So, you need to know if his looks, if they never change, would be a dealbreaker for you.

Next, write up some ways to talk to him. Here’s a starter for you:

Serious relationship and marriage requires being able to talk to each other – about anything. Anything that has to do with the way you FEEL about him. And in this case, Andie’s man is about to lose her just because he doesn’t know exactly what she wants him to do, and so he feels she doesn’t approve of HIM.

Your conversation could go like this:

“Honey, I have something on my mind, I feel very awkward bringing this up, and yet I know I have to – is this a good moment to talk?”

If he agrees to listen, then you say, “You know that you’ve completely won me over. I’m totally charmed by you and your devotion to me, I love you madly, and it feels incredible being with you. I think you’re the greatest guy ever, and I have a serious concern, where we may not be compatible, and I want to know what you think, and if we can come up with a solution. There’s something that’s really important to me, and it’s not so important to you, so I guess I’m just going to have to ask if it’s something you can make important to you just because it’s important to me, and that’s about the way you take care of the way you look.

“I want you to know it’s not the way you look, I love the way you look, but I don’t like the way you take care of your looks. So I’d like to make it clear exactly what I’d like you to do for me. This is what I want…” And you hold up the number of a Salon for men you’ve researched and found. “I want this really good salon for men to do your hair, your beard, and your eyebrows, too. Will you go for me? Here’s the card of the place I found.”

He grumbles, but he says “Okay.” Or “I’ll think about it.”

You say, “And I got you this bottle of Pro-Active (or your drugstore’s brand of acne solution) for your acne. I know lots of men who use it and it works. I think it’s important that I look my best and most attractive for you – and I’m open to hearing anything you’d like me to do that would make things more wonderful for you – and I’d like to feel free to ask you for the same thing.

“You are so lovely, and I care for you so much, I want us to be able to talk about anything. I’d feel incredible if you’d do these things for me. Actually, I feel amazing just because you heard me.”

And then you leave the Pro-Active on the bathroom counter, you leave the number for the men’s salon right under it, and you don’t mention it again.

You treat him as if he’s made the appointment and using the acne cleanser. You love him even more for listening to you

If he doesn’t do it, then you need to talk again, and this time, you might have to decide if it’s a dealbreaker, or if you can handle having this discussion over and over and over again as long as you’re together. But start here.

Let me know how this works.

Love, Rori

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  1.  #1Caroline on October 30, 2008 at 7:22 am

    What do you say to the man who suddenly makes a commitment to you but says it in such a way as to make you feel like he is settling for second best?

  2.  #2Rori Raye on October 30, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Caroline, It’s hard to tell without full information – give us the details and we’ll all help. Love, Rori

  3.  #3Caroline on October 31, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    He says he is 95% into me. Always says he scared or I am scaring him. That gets irritating, by the way. Always hearing him say that. Because I get the feeling that if someone is scared of you, then it’s because they aren’t really sure about what they really want in a relationship.

    One of his complaints is that I don’t plan and schedule dates with his kids to take them places and do things with them. He says that I don’t love them as much as I do him. The first time he mentioned it, it made me feel like he was looking for a babysitter so that he could meet other women while keeping me occupied with his children. Also, it instantly felt wrong to me. I felt that if someone you’ve known for a short period of time is expected to take his kids on a date because one of his prior girl friends did so, then my immediate response is no. But also because I feel like a woman who pursues his kids affections right away is chasing him in hopes of securing the relationship through the affections of his kids. I do not think that should be a requirement unless you are engaged to be married, which we are not.

    In the beginning of our relationship he was channel surfing various different girls … through dating sites etc. I found it difficult to trust him during that time and at moments still do. The last occurrence, I confronted him with it and told him that I did not believe he was serious about being in a relationship with me. He promised to stop and asked me how long he had. He swears that he is committed to me. He has stopped and I have begun to believe in and trust him again.

    But the other night we were watching a movie, Old School and some where along the way the topic of commitment came into our conversation in relation to the movie but he said “Sometimes a guy commits to a woman because he thinks his standards were too high and he just jumps right into a commitment with her for no other reason.” But, I argued that if he felt he “had to” commit to her then it was not really love that held his heart, not the way it should be. I believe that if a man loves you, truly, there would be no struggle within himself over making a commitment to her. It’s as though he has surrendered rather than coming into it of his own free will. I don’t want a man to struggle with the notion of being in a relationship with me. I want him to just know and it will be. I don’t want a martyr who feels pity for me because he is afraid to break my heart.