Snap! Neglecting Appearance

In the following chapter of our new book, Snap Strategies for Couples: 40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Pitfalls, Dr. Pepper and I underline how pivotal it is to not to take your everyday appearance for granted when in a relationship.   Enjoy another free sample!

Our personal appearance is important. We want to like what we see when we look in the mirror. And we like to see our partner’s eye’s light up when we walk toward them. Attraction is another one of those hardwired drives that draws couples together or, if it disappears, pushes them apart. When two people send messages of mutual attraction to one another, the underlying message is “come closer.” When personal appearance is relatively disheveled, when there is obviously no attempt to look good for the other person, the message that is sent is “go away.” Thinking of home as the place you can afford to look your worst isn’t fair to your partner or your relationship.

We are often perplexed that couples will spend enormous resources, time, energy, and money being attractive to each other while they are dating and then consider the mission done when the first few years of the relationship have passed (if not sooner!). Both men and women know appearance is very important, and yet it seems that reducing effort to keep looking good is one of the perceived perks of marriage. Beauty and good grooming are appealing both to men and women, and there is no reason to believe this priority goes away after marriage.

It seems that many people assume love is supposed to be so profound that appearance plays a secondary role in relationships. That ideology, however, may not work for every couple. Gaining a lot of weight or looking sloppy, unclean, or unkempt puts many marriages and cohabiting relationships at risk. As relationship experts, we hear many men cautiously complain about their partner’s more casual approaches to appearance, saying, for instance, that the weekend sweats are a turnoff.

Men and women both turn off when their partner stops practicing ordinary hygiene and body odor, dirty hair, and dirty clothes become commonplace. Less obvious offenses are wearing the same clothes over and over, never dressing to please their partner, and wearing functional rather than seductive clothing. Of course, great weight gain (or occasionally, great weight loss) can radically change a partner’s appearance, too.

We believe that giving up grooming is giving up producing a valuable kind of pleasure for a partner. In some ways it is irrational to dress up for outsiders (or a dinner in a nice restaurant, a party, or an event) and be less attentive to how one looks at home. Of all the people you want to impress physically, your partner should be first on the list. Research shows we are careful about our appearance when we are around people we respect, and sloppy and poorly groomed with those we don’t. Partners will get that message. So we believe that putting some energy and effort into looking good at home is important for both showing how you feel about each other and also for relationship happiness.

As always, for the other pages of the chapter and the rest of the book, order here!