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It can be uncomfortable, but the consequences of staying silent are much worse.

Why You Need to Communicate About Physical Attraction with Your S.O.

The Lunch-Lady Arms Dilemma

It can be uncomfortable, but the consequences of staying silent are much worse.

By August Wright, College of Charleston


Every time my boyfriend and I leave my parents’ house after a visit, my mother stands in the driveway and frantically waves at our departing car.

My mom doesn’t do a whole lot with her upper body—aside from carrying around her gigantic tatas—so whenever she waves, she grabs her un-toned tricep muscle to keep it from flapping all around, which always sends my boyfriend into hysterical laughter. Of course my mom is doing it as a joke because she knows lunch lady arms (sometimes called “friceps”) are totally normal for middle-aged women who don’t lift weights, and her arms don’t bother my step dad, so who cares?

If my mom’s arms really did bug the crap out of my step dad, she’d probably tone them up, but only after a long, drawn-out battle in which she tells him to lose weight, he says it’s okay for men his age to have a little gut, and then she says something else, a stool gets thrown, the police are called and then my parents hit the gym together the next week. You know, typical married-life shit.

All kidding aside, my parents communicate about what’s attractive to them and what isn’t. Even if feelings sometimes get hurt, the two of them end up motivated enough to at least try and alter their lifestyles to fit in more exercise or a diet plan. And hey, exercising with your significant other can have a lot of positive benefits.

Everyone’s a little shallow. Five years ago, before I met my current boyfriend, I had a really good friend who had a crush on me. He was funny, charming and incredibly smart, but I wasn’t attracted to him mainly because he was fairly short, his hair was really curly and he had a lot of body hair, which I guess is great if he starts balding later in life.

I know I’m making him sound like Cousin Itt, but he really wasn’t an uggo—he just wasn’t my type.

Why You Need to Communicate About Physical Attraction with Your S.O.I thought it would be mean to tell him I wasn’t attracted to him, so I didn’t, and we ended up going on a couple of excruciating dates, one of which included me trying to pawn him off on my lesbian sister. In my defense, I didn’t know she was a lesbian, so…You know, my bad.

I should’ve just told my friend from the beginning that I wasn’t sexually into him. He was a little older and very mature, so he took my eventual rejection really well, and we were best buddies until he moved away to New York. However, the situation could’ve gone a lot differently had I been dealing with someone not as understanding or kind, and our really great friendship could’ve been ruined by my dishonesty.

It’s okay to tell someone that you aren’t into the way they look.

You’re only shallow if you seek relationships based solely on looks—meaning you ignore huge personality flaws, like lying and cheating, just because he’s totally ripped or she’s got a huge bosom. Maybe a lot of people know to pick potential boy/girlfriends based on looks and personality, but how many people know that it’s totally reasonable—and also healthy—to tell your long-term partner that you just aren’t feeling their look anymore?

A year ago, I had gained some weight. I wasn’t fat, but I had always hovered between 125 and 130 pounds and suddenly I was around 145. Not a significant weight gain, but noticeable.

When I got back down to 130, my boyfriend admitted that he didn’t like the way my thighs/butt looked with the extra weight. I was mad, but not because he was honest with me.

I was upset that he wasn’t honest with me until after I had lost the weight.

It was around this time that we agreed to tell and help each other if one of us began gaining a lot of weight and/or if one of us began to find the other one less attractive.

Now, I know a lot of men are afraid to tell their ladies that she should get a new ‘do or that she should hit the gym. And I know a lot of ladies (and also guys) are pretty sensitive about the way they look, so pointing out the mullet or the beer belly might cause some problems in the relationship. But part of communicating with your partner is learning how they communicate and what types of communication works best (Indirect? Direct? “It’s me, not you”?).

In most cases, your S.O. knows they need to lose weight or pluck their brows or shave their feet, so saying, “You’re the Jabba to my Leia” or “Are you related to Helga Pataki?” or “nice hobbit feet” is unhelpful and dickish. But saying, “Hey, let’s check out some local gyms so we can tone up” or “Can I pluck your eyebrows?” or “Shave your feet or I won’t shave my pits” are all good ways to approach a delicate situation. I’m a really direct person, so I’d go for something like, “I want you to feel good about you. We’re in this together. Now let’s hit the gym, you fat piece of shit.”

When both parties feel good about how they look, the relationship tends to get better. When I dropped the excess 15 pounds I had gained by sitting on the couch and eating Swiss Rolls, my sex drive went up and I was more into the sex (sorry for the over-share, family).

Ladies, if you’re unhappy about your body, this unhappiness will make sex feel like a chore and, chances are, you aren’t going to enjoy it as much as you should. Similarly, if you aren’t pleased with your guy’s gut or his new beard or the fact that he drenches himself in cheap cologne, sex is going to be rough—and not in the hair-pulling/back-scratching sort of way.

For any naysayers out there who think transparency isn’t the best policy and/or some things are better left unsaid, consider what could happen if your wife/husband isn’t communicating. If your partner isn’t happy with your looks and you two stop having sex, who’s going to step in to fill that gap?

Sure, there are people out there who’d never cheat on their spouse, but the reality is that that’s not most people, and even the nicest, most honest person can be driven to act in deceitful ways. So if the choice is between telling your partner to firm up their lunch lady arms or your partner having an affair—which could end the relationship—which would you choose?

Sometimes you have to take an extra-step to keep your relationship healthy. My boyfriend likes it best when I wear make-up, so I wear make-up even if we aren’t leaving the house (also, I look like hot garbage without it). I like it when he doesn’t blow his meat-scented burps at me, so he doesn’t—not even if I blow my burps at him. Long-term relationships survive on honesty and, hopefully, my boyfriend will tell me to stop blowing my burps at him before finding another girl who won’t.

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