Looking good in the long run

In the beginning, before your new significant other comes over, you prepare. You look your absolute best every time you see them.

Then, you’ve been together long enough that the relationship is no longer new, and eventually you might even move in together. You realize that you just don’t have the time to look your best whenever you see them. Does it concern you? Should it concern you?

How do you, and how much do you, worry about grooming standards after you’ve been with your partner in the long term?

Please don’t assume that this piece is just one (extremely nerdy) guy going, “Meh, be lazy and stop freaking out.” I know that’s the stereotype about guys, and I’d like to dispel that myth before we proceed. I spoke at length with my girlfriend, and the issue has been discussed amongst other friends in the past. I also did some Internet research to see what people who make their money off of questions like this have to say. (Spoiler alert: I cannot fathom how people actually listen to the advice columns in gossip rags like Cosmopolitan.)

To some degree, it is inevitable that your overall grooming standards will slip a bit in front of your long-term partner. That’s totally fine and normal, especially when you live together. You will wind up being sick, tired, unkempt, stressed, lazy and too busy for really doing yourself up.

Some general reduction of your average level of done-upness is to be expected. Keep that in mind, and neither panic nor judge when it happens. Likewise, if your partner starts to fret because you are no longer clean shaven every time you see them, that’s a problem that you may want to discuss with them.

The real issue though is not whether your grooming standards will slip, but rather how much they will slip, and with what severity.

Obviously, this varies from person to person, and relationship to relationship. My girlfriend said that any such reduction should be “small but significant,” and after some initial confusion about exactly what she meant by that, I am inclined to agree.

As mentioned before, getting really groomed up takes work, and people just don’t have the time. You will also find times when one of you is too sick, too tired or too something else to get ready. It happens.

Furthermore, and much more importantly, couples like that are being exposed to the “behind the scenes” stuff, if you will, and such stuff is often highly personal and very intimate. This intimacy and vulnerability make it very important that both partners are open-minded and kind. My girlfriend summed it up nicely with the phrase: Don’t be a dick about it.

Most of the (awful) relationship advice from places like Cosmo or Men’s Health make it sound like if you aren’t Adonis all the time, your partner will find you fat/ugly/lazy and leave. These assumptions, and the fact that many of Cosmo’s sex tips will get you hospitalized, mean that in short, you should generally ignore these magazines.

The one decent piece of advice I read concluded that if you “let yourself go” too much, the problem isn’t simply that your partner loses attraction for you. Such long-term laziness tells your partner that you don’t think they are worth keeping yourself attractive for, and whether they consciously think that or not, it will tend to have an impact on your love life. So don’t panic and try to be decked out all the time, and also don’t turn into a total slob.

If you do feel like your significant other is letting themselves go to the point where it is negatively impacting your relationship, then talk to them. Have a quiet, non-dramatic and kind conversation about the issue. Being told that you need to improve in such a way by somebody important is never fun, so keep that in mind as you speak to them.