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Be patient with partner's insecurities

Insecurities require patience from loving partner

Q: My girlfriend and I have been together five months. She lost a lot of weight before we met but still doesn't have a very good self-image and calls herself a "fat chick" all the time. She wears a lot of makeup, which I don't care for. I try to emphasize how beautiful she is and that she doesn't need so much makeup. She dismisses me and says people will be staring at some barely noticeable blemish.

I find her so much sexier without the makeup and I want her to feel good enough about herself not to need to cover up. I've told her this but it's a touchy subject, and I don't want to push it to the point where it becomes an issue. Should I let it go?

Baltimore

A: By tiptoeing into the makeup issue with your girlfriend, getting deflected, and factoring in evidence of her shaky self-image, you've demonstrated that you: know she's fragile; are wary of controlling; aren't one of the disarming, charismatic few who can say, "Ugh, take that spackle off, you're way too pretty for that" — and get away with it; and not in the kind of solid, trusting relationship that allows the less charming among us to speak so freely. Your relationship may get there, but it's not there now.

And you won't get there if you treat the makeup as a surface issue. It runs as deep as her insecurities, which you can't help her with unless she lets you. For that you need patience, sympathy, acceptance (makeup and all) and time.

Even then, her self-image might languish and she might never let you inside the cosmetic wall she uses to keep the world out. It's a psychobabble staple that people can't love others until they love themselves, and what you're essentially asking is whether your girlfriend will ever accept and trust herself enough to accept and trust what you give her, be it a genuine compliment, constructive criticism or love. It's a question I can answer only with another question: Are you dedicated, eyes open, to sticking around to find out? It's okay to say no, because you owe it to her not to say yes unless you mean it.

Wow, he wasn't kidding when he said he has an accent

Q: I have recently met a wonderful man through an online dating service. He is so sweet, honest, good, unspoiled. Before we spoke, he warned me that he has that "northern Michigan/Canadian accent." I did not comment except to write, oh, you don't sound like Fargo do you? He does.

And it really is a discordant note to my ears. I came from rural Wisconsin and the first thing I worked on when I went off to college was the sloppy diction, etc., that I grew up with, to the point where no one would guess.

Do I now broach this subject with "Would you work on that?" Or do I just have to take it or leave it? He is a sweetheart. My friends are divided ... I am torn.

Minneapolis

A: You're the one who has to listen to him speak, and if you're too irked by his accent to be impressed by his words, then Far-guy's not your guy. A "wonderful man" deserves someone grateful to know him, not impatient for him to improve.

Be patient with partner's insecurities 05/14/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 14, 2011 5:30am]

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