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When Hair Gel Met Sally

Amy Alkon on

I'm a 28-year-old woman. My boyfriend of three months is a great person, and I started to think he might be The One. However, he got a new haircut -- one that had him using excessive gel. Looking at him, I felt a wave of revulsion and needed to get away...permanently. I don't understand the sudden change in my feelings.

--Disgusted

You, like many women, want a man who appears to have the grooming routine of a golden lab: running across the lawn when the sprinklers are on and then shaking off.

Many women find it disturbing when a man spends more time in the bathroom or uses more "product" than they do. Evolutionary psychology research suggests we women evolved to seek a man who will protect us -- as opposed to one who'll fight us to the death for the last of our poshbrand conditioner.

Sure, hair gel could be the "gateway" goop to your dude dolling up with Fenty eyeshadow, contour foundation, and sparkly self-tanner by the weekend. But chances are he just went heavy on the stuff because he's a first-timer at using it.

And chances are your sudden extreme reaction is not about him but about you -- and probably your panicking at the prospect of commitment. Commitment involves finding not the perfect right person but a right enough person at the right time, observes clinical psychologist Judith Sills. Being ready for a relationship is a key factor. This requires getting yourself "sorted," as the Brits say, meaning developing both self-respect and self-acceptance, including a realistic and self-compassionate understanding of your limitations.

 

Sensing that you "could be lovable in the eyes of another person," leads to a shift, explains Sills. "You stop being so critical of a potential partner's shortcomings and begin to appreciate his or her strengths." This doesn't mean you are "without anxiety or ambivalence" -- wanting and not wanting a relationship at the same time -- but readiness for a relationship helps you push through those feelings.

If you aren't yet ready, you should make that clear to men you date. If becoming ready will require some personal development work, you might want to hop on that. In general, the more "up there" in years women get, the more they find their standards for a partner in need of relaxing -- in the direction of "not currently incarcerated and has at least a weak pulse.

Brothel, Where Art Thou

My male roommate began having women over for one-night stands almost daily, even meeting one for the first time at our apartment with no heads-up for me. I'm a woman and very careful about whom I have over: usually only friends I've known for a while. I'm uncomfortable having my space constantly intruded on by strangers, but he seems surprisingly unaware of this.

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