How much of the 'real you' should you show him?
by Liz Garment,, 19th November 2001

There comes a time in most relationships when it seems natural to 'relax' a little. Suddenly, it doesn't seem quite so vital to look drop dead gorgeous every second you're together and even him finding your Bridget Jones-style, anti-fat pants under the bed isn't the end of the world anymore.

Deciding how much of the real you to reveal is always a difficult and delicate issue.

After all, once you've let your glam guard down even a fraction it's all too easy to find yourself shuffling round the house in your comfy slippers with hair remover on your top lip or sitting on the loo chatting to him as he does his teeth.

But is feeling free to show your human side a natural turning point in your relationship or the point of no return, the start of an inevitable decline into Wayne and Waynetta Slob-dom?

Tread carefully

‘Letting your hair down too early means you could lose your mystique and allure and that's potentially quite dangerous,’ warns counselling psychologist Anjula Mutanda.

‘Any relationship is a bit like peeling an onion. Part of the attraction for a man is enjoying the mystery and wondering what lies beneath the next layer and it's important not to give too much away too soon.’

Take the hint

Men are very good at letting their partner know at what stage - if ever - they can cope with seeing her in flannel pants with greasy hair and no make-up, says Anjula.

‘They'll often point out glamorous women on television and say things like: ‘Isn't she stunning -1 bet she doesn't wear pull-me-in pants’ and that's obviously not the time to tell him you're wearing support stockings,’ she says. ‘Or they'll mention how good, or not so good, a friend of yours looks and you can read the signs from there. It's all about listening to the messaging and testing out the different levels of acceptability within a relationship.’

Maintain your identity

So you're happy together and in a comfortable relationship that looks like it's going into the long term - surely it's okay to let some style standards slip a little"?

Of course, says Anjula, but she still advises a degree of caution. ‘As a relationship develops, you need to allow your partner to really know you emotionally and sexually but that is possible without giving up your identity and revealing every intimate aspect.

‘For example, you can mention things you don't like about yourself like having hairy legs but that doesn't mean you have to shave them in front of him. And of course you can tell him when you have period pains and need a bit of TLC but you don't have to leave packets of tampons lying all over the bathroom.

‘Men like women to have their secret women things so keep those potentially destructive personal details to yourself. Work on remaining sexy, alluring and mysterious whilst letting him in on the things that are really crucial to the relationship like how you feel and what's important to you.’

A slippery slope

As a relationship moves on - especially with the arrival of children - it's clear that most couples will become more relaxed with each other and how they took.

‘Obviously it's perfectly normal to throw on an old dressing gown when you get up with the kids at the crack of dawn,’ says Anjula. ‘Just make sure you don't start living in clothes like that.

‘When you find yourself happy to sit on the loo while your partner is in the bathroom, something you'd never have contemplated at the start of your relationship, you could be in danger of revealing too much and doing so can drive a hidden wedge between a couple.’

Rock bottom

Sometimes we become so relaxed and comfortable with our partner, we stop making any effort - a dangerous time, says Anjula.

‘Going down the Waynetta Slob route can spell indifference,’ she warns. ‘If you don't bother putting on make-up anymore, getting dressed up occasionally and making the effort to preen yourself then your partner may well feel there's something wrong with the relationship.

‘He's likely to think that because you've given up on the special things that attracted him in the first place, you've given up on yourself and him and that's very demoralising and upsetting.’

Keeping up appearances

Superficial or not, the way we look really matters to a relationship. ‘Long term relationships thrive on flirting and remembering the romantic aspects and not just going down to your baggy trousers and slippers all the time,’ says Anjula.

Taking pride in your appearance makes your lover feel good too. It means he can say: ‘Look at me, I've got a beautiful partner' and that's great for you, him and your relationship.

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