Recently I have had cause to reflect on my relationship mistakes. What bothers me the most about my marriage was my wanton disregard for a key relationship red flag: the “If only you…”
You know what I mean. Those 3 words slipped casually into a conversation (because that hurts so much less) that represent the way we could somehow be better. Because that’s what love is all about, pointing out imperfections to the one you adore so they can fix themselves.
And it feels so grand hearing how great you could be, you know, if you improved yourself. Because then, of course, they’ll love you more and everything will be okay. (And clearly the corollary is that it’s your fault that things are not okay)
“If only you were thinner.” (Well, I just have so much me time, you know, with all these work obligations. child care, shopping, laundry, and cleaning. The loving way that you point out my muffin top just so makes me want to take care of myself).
“If only you cooked better meals.” (Oh yeah, because dragging the kids through Safeway after work leaves me so much time to whip up those short rib pot pies with a pate brise crust featured on the cover of this month’s Martha Stewart).
“If only you dressed better.” (Because it’s great to have the baby barf on the Chanel, isn’t it. And nursing in skinny jeans is simply divine!).
It is possible I heard some variation of the above from time to time (my ex used to give me pictures of how he thought I should dress, now if that doesn’t say true love, I don’t know what the fuck does!). But the one red flag that sticks with me the most is the perpetual disappointment with my hair. “It’s just so frizzy. If only you had straight hair.’ He even showed me information about hair straightening. “Everyone’s doing it.”
Now just like our weight, we girls do not need any help with our hair issues. If it’s straight we want curly, and if curly we dream of the 70’s ironed look. We spend hours obsessing about hair and hair care products. I once tweeted about the perfect mousse that I found for my curly hair (Paul Mitchell, who knew?!) and I had about
a bazillion 30 replies
OMG, so THAT was the problem with our relationship. My curly hair. (Of course it was curly when we met, but I digress.)
What’s worse, I took the bait.
Yup, I had that Brazilian Blowout crap. You know, the one they tell you doesn’t have formaldehyde, except that my eyes stung like I was back in gross anatomy lab in 1rst year med school. While my hairdresser was searing that crap onto my hair I felt like I was heaving a cadaver out of its formaldehyde bath. Good times!
And so there I was putting a known carcinogen on my hair to improve myself. To be better in the eyes of the person who supposedly loved me more than anyone else in the world.
And this was the result. (Of course when I walked in the door the reply I got was, “Wow, I didn’t think it would be that straight”).
I felt horrible with straight hair.
Yes it was frizz free..and every morning I looked like I had just walked out of the salon with perfectly flat ironed tresses, but it wasn’t me. I have a big hair that matches my big personality. It’s part of what makes me, well, me.
And so my straight hair was just one more thing that I did that didn’t fix my marriage, but in the end it was worth it (although maybe not if I get some terrible scalp cancer down the road) because it made me realize that nothing I did would ever be enough. I don’t think that trying to change me makes my ex a bad person, it’s just easier to hope that someone can change into what you want instead of being the bigger person and admitting that you chose incorrectly in the first place.
So I let my hair go back to curly. And I love it. And any guy that doesn’t love it, well, he isn’t for me.
If someone loves you, they shouldn’t want or need to change you.
The hard way, of course.