Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Today it's the high heels, but tomorrow it could be . . .
Anonymous: Do you still take shoe questions? If so, is it wrong of me that, now that I'm dating a man who is only about 2 inches taller than I am, I've banished all my fabulous 4-inch heels to the back of my closet and refuse to wear them out on the town?
Carolyn: This isn't a shoe question, it's a question about suppressing elements of yourself in an effort to come across as more appealing to someone. The details of what you're giving up aren't as important as the impulse itself.
The best pairings are of people who come the closest to being their natural selves in each other's presence. Everyone gives up a little something in the process of pairing off, if only because you freely choose to consider someone else in decisions you make about your own life. But the object is to compromise as few things as possible that speak to the essence of who you are. The people who do that most effectively are the ones who are not only comfortable with who they are, but are also UNcomfortable with the idea of relegating part of themselves to the closet just on the chance that part might be seen as a liability.
If you love shoes but you're worried the guy will be put off by your height, then you've already positioned yourself as someone who'll change to please, as minor as shoes might seem.
I'd say that if shoes were just foot coverings to you, then you needn't worry, but "fabulous" says otherwise.
Re: Shoes: Why do you assume the reader banished her heels for her boyfriend's comfort rather than her own self-doubt at dating someone shorter? I read the question in the latter manner.
Carolyn: I guess I didn't really see a distinction between the two; it's a detail that doesn't change the emotional mechanics.
Let's say the guy doesn't care at all, and she still banished the shoes. Then it would be her changing herself to please societal expectations of what a good male catch is (guy taller than you) — and the only reason you care what society thinks of the guy you catch is caring what society thinks of your ability to catch someone.
So it's still a matter of shoving a part of oneself in the closet because it might be perceived as unattractive — it just changes whose good opinion you're seeking.
Are you single or not? Maybe you should ask your partner
NYC: My partner hasn't spontaneously kissed, touched or said "I love you" to me in over a year but acts like there's nothing wrong. My self-worth is suffering and conversations about it go nowhere. Am I technically single again?
Carolyn: Depends on the content of those conversations. Do you say, "Are we okay?" and does your partner say, "Yeah, sure"?
Or have you said: "You haven't spontaneously kissed, touched or said 'I love you' to me in over a year. Is there something you aren't telling me? Because any truth would be preferable to the loneliness. Or, is this just the way things are going to be from now on?"
A non-answer in response to your explicitly laying it out like that would mean that it's time to make yourself single again — officially.