Question: I don’t like shaving, but my partner prefers it … what do I do?
I have shaved my legs, pubic area, and armpits since I was a teenager but lately I’ve been struggling with why I continue to shave: my partner. If I were single, I would never shave, especially my pubic area. The only reason I do is because it is my partner’s preference. I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable with this because I feel like I’m not my authentic self. How would you process this? Am I being dramatic because we all adjust our behavior depending on who we are with?
Answer: You do you. They can evolve.
For starters, a preference is not a rule or a requirement. Preferences should be considered up for discussion between partners, and no one has a right to assume you will abide by their preferences all the time.
I wonder whether you’ve ever just stopped shaving for a while, just to see how your partner responds. I don’t think you should have to negotiate for the freedom to be hairy, so the first thing I’d do in your situation is lay off the razor for a week or two, and see if they ask any questions. If they really want you to shave, and it’s really that important to them, I would hope they can come up with the language to talk about it. If they get annoyed by the prickles, you have an opportunity for a conversation. It doesn’t have to be a confrontation.
Of course, you can always start with questions of your own in case your partner isn’t that outspoken. Have they ever been with someone who didn’t do that kind of grooming, or do they just assume that’s the norm? Have they ever done the same level of grooming, and if so what was that experience like? Explore the whole concept of body hair and grooming with your partner. Allow yourselves to be curious about one another’s experiences.
If your partner hasn’t already, I suggest they try shaving their legs, arms, pits, and bits, and see how eager they are to keep up the routine. Anything they expect of you, I think they should be willing to at least try once themselves. If they flatly refuse to participate in the experiment because it’s too annoying or too feminine, then I think we’re dealing with a misogynist, and this is a whole different problem. If they do it and don’t find it annoying, that’s cool, but that still doesn’t give them the right to expect it from you. Remember: Your bodily autonomy matters, and you’re not required to like everything they like.
Personally, I treat shaving as a sometimes habit. I’ll do it when it suits my mood or my outfit, or maybe if I get a polite request, but in general, my partners and everyone else in my life are required to understand that my body belongs to me, and how I groom it is my choice. As you said, we all adjust our behaviors and habits for others sometimes. It’s nice to make a special effort if you know it turns your partner on, but the idea that anyone should be groomed to another person’s specifications at all times even though they don’t like doing it is more than a little uncomfortable to me. If your partner truly considers body hair a deal breaker, you may want to have a chat about your values and priorities. I hope they value you as a human being more than their attachment to particular grooming styles.
Finally, If your partner is a regular shaver, try both going hairy for a while and see what happens. Then shave it all off together and endure the regrowth process as a couple. It will either bring you closer together, destroy your relationship, or just make you kinda itchy for a while. Chances are, you’ll both learn something.