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Monday, April 8, 2013

A Relationship: Part 1 - She Wants to be Told She's Pretty

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been reading your blog for I don't even know how many months now, maybe even a year or more, and I've found it very helpful. I'm a real fan of the way you give advice - direct, no Molly coddling, but still caring.

The thing is, I never thought I would need to write to you myself. I'll try to keep it short.

I haven't had the greatest dating/relationship history, but the relationship I'm in now is wonderful.

We've been friends for almost a year, started going on dates about 6-7 months ago, and we've been dating exclusively for 6 weeks now. He's the most amazing man I know.

He served a worthy mission, he is a (very) regular temple patron, he's chivalrous, patient, kind, funny, smart, hardworking... I could go on and on. He even irons! He has become my best friend, and I love him. I truly believe he is the one Heavenly Father intends for me to marry in the temple (I've prayed and fasted and prayed about it, and received an answer), and I don't think it will be too many years before that happens (in fact I don't think it will be two years before that happens).

He's 26 and I'm 20, by the way.

He's pretty much the perfect boyfriend, except for one little thing.

In all the time we've known each other, he's never called me beautiful, pretty, or told me I look nice.

He's said I have no reason to be camera shy, and when I said I'm not photogenic at all, he said "that's not what the camera says". But he's never told me how he sees me.

I know I'm not exactly model material, but I know I'm not unattractive either.

If I think about it, I'm sure all my guy friends (and girlfriends) have called me pretty, good looking, beautiful, stunning, "you look wonderful", etc, at some time or another. But the man I love hasn't.

In the beginning, I didn't think much of it, but lately it's been starting to get to me.

I don't consider myself to be vain, but I would like to know that he finds me attractive too.

I want to talk to him about it, but I don't know how to bring it up without making him feel like a total jerk.

He really isn't, and he hasn't really done anything wrong; it's just something he's overlooked.

How should I talk to him about it?

And if I tell him to say it, how do I know he means it?

Part of me is hesitant to bring it up at all, but I don't want this little thing to grow and fester into something big, ugly and poisonous.

Any advice you have would be much appreciated.

I really don't know how I should handle this.

I know you're a busy man, so thank you for taking the time to read this.

- Smitten and Clueless

Dear Smitten,

Thank you for the kind words.

Communication is the key to happiness in any relationship.

While you really should just let it go, be understanding that not all people communicate love and appreciation in the same ways (he has tried to tell you that he thinks you're beautiful, btw), recognize that you're allowing your own insecurities to cloud a great relationship, and as you said, be a little less vain, if something truly is bothering you then at some point (sooner rather than later), you'll need to bring it up.

(Have you ever heard the story about the elderly couple who had been married a long time? The wife was complaining to her husband that he didn't say "I love you" enough. He said, "Sweetheart, I told you I love you on our wedding day, if anything changes I'll let you know".)

I recommend being casual, something to the effect of "sweetheart, just so you know, once in a while a woman needs to hear from the man she loves that she's beautiful".

And then you have to do your part, meaning that every time he says something to that affect, you need to be gracious, accepting, and appreciative that he appreciates you.

A smile, a touch, a kiss, all go a long way.

As well as, you know, the actual words, "thank you".

And also do your part by listening to what his needs are.

Men like to be appreciated, too. (Probably more than women do, actually.  For us it can be a necessity . . . we can be much more insecure than we let on.)

No, he may not want to hear that he's pretty, but he needs to know that you recognize how hard he works, you see the service he gives others, you're grateful that he's a worthy and active priesthood holder . . . stuff like that.

Now, one last thing if you'll allow: my opinion is that a couple your age, who's in love like you are, and who's been together as long as you have, ought to be making marriage a priority.

Two years is, in my opinion, about 18 months too long.


There's another thing for you to talk about!

 - Bro Jo

1 comment:

Amberlie Shaffer said...

Even though it can be really scary, I think of a Humble Confrontation as acts of service and sacrifice.

1. You're sacrificing your "I don't want to upset them" feelings now to prevent the resentment and bitter feelings you'll have towards them eventually if they continue to do that thing.

2. You're serving them because you're giving them an opportunity to serve you. I know that sounds weird. But think about how quickly you'd jump at being able to do something to make your significant other happy?

Change is hard, and patience, humility, and understanding is needed by both parties, but seriously. As you work together on building your relationship and helping each other meet needs, you'll be so grateful you didn't let those feelings of fear get to you!