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Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ “My Girlfriend Hates the Way I Dress!”

Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ “My Girlfriend Hates the Way I Dress!”

Dear Dr V ~

My girlfriend complains that I don’t dress “mature” enough.  I work from home, I’m my own boss … the whole point is that I don’t have to dress up for anybody.  I like being who I am (jeans, t-shirt, sneakers). She especially hates my black motorcycle jacket which I’ve had since high school and is molded to my body at this point. She says she feels embarrassed when we go out, but I don’t want to have to start dressing like some dufus in a magazine. I think there’s a difference between being immature and turning into a boring, generic grown-up, if you know what I mean.  How can I make her respect my right to be me?


Dear Larry,

I can understand your frustrations with your lady friend, however, not to pour gas on the fire here, you are coming off as a bit immature in your question.

In fact, the picture you’ve painted of yourself is rather comical: a young man dressed like an angry teenager, stamping his foot and shouting “I wanna dress how I wanna dress. You’re not the boss of me! And, I am not immature!”

Hopefully you haven’t clicked away from my answer in anger yet. Of course I’m kidding, but c’mon, seriously. If you’re old enough to be your own boss and working from home, then, I’m sorry to say, you must on some level be a “grown-up” as you put it, otherwise how could you manage the responsibilities? I’m sorry to break it to you, Larry. You are an adult. Take a moment to absorb the shock and we’ll continue.

Ready? OK. Now, I get the feeling from how your question was phrased that you are also both an intelligent and intensely independent young man. Which are admirable qualities and certainly should not be squelched. However, I wonder if maybe you associate certain aspects of your apparel with these qualities, perhaps to the point where you might be afraid that should you give up these material things, you will also be giving up the ideals they symbolize for you.

Now your lady enters the picture. Now, I would assume it’s very likely that what attracted her to you in the first place was your strong sense of individuality and self-determination. Who knows, perhaps the leather jacket was even a turn-on… at first. But perhaps when you’re out for a nice dinner, she may want to sit across from a mature gentleman, rather than a high-school punk rocker.

I’m not saying you should get rid of all your old clothes and buy a new wardrobe that doesn’t allow you to express who you are in the name of preserving the relationship, and my guess is that your girlfriend doesn’t want that either. What I would suggest is finding the adult translation of your youthful energy, if that makes sense. Without actually meeting you I can’t offer any concrete suggestions, but I would say it might be worth taking a stroll around a mall or department store (Hey! It’s something you can do with your girl!) allowing yourself to really look without prejudice to see what you can find.

Also, as a reality check for where you really are in your life, you could always take a stroll over to Hot Topic or whatever other mass-produced-pre-packaged-teen-rebellion store is in your area to get an idea of just how much you may have outgrown the playground, as it were. Seriously, consider the meta-message of a store like that, what it is they’re really selling to their customers (not the clothes or accessories, but what is the image they’re trying to sell? Is that still you, now that you’ve moved out of your parents house (I assume) and no longer are filled with rage at the prospect of another pop-quiz in Algebra II?)

What I’m driving at here is that you may be clinging to certain artifacts of yourself because they provide some sort of comfort in the uncertainty of adult life. Which is fine, so long as they are not the only source of that comfort. (Hint for another place you might want to try finding solace: Starts with “G”, ends with “-irlfriend.”)

What I do advise against, unless you are totally 100% on board and trusting of it, is any kind of a “makeover” from either your girlfriend or other outside source. I say this because all that will be is someone else’s take on what you should be wearing, rather than your own. Not to say that you shouldn’t be open to suggestions or guidance, but I think if you do a little digging you may be surprised to find you have a more refined, mature taste than you at first gave yourself credit for.

Like just about every other conflict in life, especially within the realm of romance and relationships, the solution lies in compromise, finding that golden spot in the middle. If this relationship and being with this woman are important to you, then I’m sure you will fast realize that allowing yourself to grow and change in a relationship isn’t “selling out” or becoming “boring.” Quite the opposite: you will be taking evolutionary steps towards a higher, more realized version of yourself.

With Love and Light,
Dr. V

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