If only we could choose who to fall in love with. Sigh! My last ex dressed impeccably well. Fancy suits, minimal jumpers, low-key accessories (cufflinks, black scarf). With my black dresses and silk pencil skirts, we looked good together. But our twenty-year age gap made me uncomfortable in public. “She’s a gold-digger”, I’d picture voices muttering. If you’re feeling embarrassed of your partner, should you look inside yourself or continue to analyse them?
It’s easy for me to find a date embarrassing – I’m a clothes snob. I hate tropical shirts, neon, tie-die, V-neck t-shirts, beards (facial clothing). I went on a date with a bearded man – the moment I saw food stick to his hair, I stopped picturing him in bed. Once hair grows to a Santa Claus aesthetic, I’m done. Around four years ago, I was at a pub comedy night, when a suited, tall guy approached me to chat. We laughed (my jokes outdid the comedians) and we exchanged numbers.
With a date scheduled after work, I awoke early to style my hair, apply makeup and choose a smart-sexy outfit: A cream blouse, navy skirt and strapless heels. Waiting outside the tube station we agreed to meet at, I envisioned him in another suit. To my surprise, he was wearing an old grey t-shirt, paint stained, ripped jeans, and dirty, white trainers. His “It’s casual Friday” excuse irritated me – to think I’d set my alarm 30 minutes ahead to prepare. He took me to lovely locations for food and drink – yet I couldn’t let go of his lazy outfit. I felt like a swan, sitting at a restaurant with other swans, looking across to a duck.
And I want to tell you, I felt bad for judging. I’d love to say I looked past his outfit to focus on his personality. But I’m not that person. I SO judged him throughout our date.
Being ashamed of someone you love
Other than clothes, there are several reasons for feeling embarrassed of your partner. You might consider them ugly by society standards, awkward, too loud, too oversharing, uncultured, uneducated, clumsy, vain, bad mannered, fussy, unfunny (an inappropriate joker), unsocial. According to Psychology Today, research suggests our own self-esteem increases through our partners’ successes and enviable traits. The publication explains how significant relationships form part of our identity: “I becomes we”. Even if we hate the phrase “our other half” and the cheesy “You complete me” quote from Jerry Maguire, it’s sort of true.
Couples reflect upon each other. If I dated a criminal who commits theft or a guy protesting racist views, could you honestly not impose his beliefs on me? Would you not question my character for dating such a person? There is a line between acceptable differences. And it can be embarrassing when those lines blur.
When a partner does or says something you wouldn’t. I once went on a date with a guy who stood up and started stretching in a restaurant. I’m talking leg raises and arms behind shoulders. The transfixed eyes of other diners flamed my cheeks. He later admitted he enjoyed watching me squirm.
On Quora, a woman asked if they’re horrible for finding their boyfriend embarrassing in public. Relationship coach Karilyn Ryan described her query as a confidence issue based on using her partner to determine her “social value” and appearance to the outside world. We all want to believe we don’t care what others think – we’re confident enough in ourselves, it doesn’t matter how anyone perceives our partnerships. When in reality, most of us do care. We want someone that makes us feel proud; someone who inspires us. And we can often overlook the clumsiness and the loudness, but we don’t want to date an individual with traits we’re ashamed of.
Feeling embarrassed of your partner: a deal-breaker?
I like dating guys with qualities I’m lacking in. Someone unfazed by social media, unconcerned talking to strangers. Just before lockdown, I was on a date with a guy who told me he feels self-conscious eating in front of people, and insecure washing his hands outside the toilets (the bar had wash basins outside the bathroom doors). And although I could relate, it was unsexy hearing his insecurities. I would feel embarrassed dating a guy not secure in himself.
I’ve seen lots of couple’s break-up due to embarrassment. One was a guy who felt ashamed of his girlfriend and her pickiness. Another was a friend who found her partner’s jealousy embarrassing. She’d be on a girl’s night out and he’d consistently call, drink beer and accuse her of cheating sometime round midnight. One well-educated friend dated a “lad” and she struggled to break the class barrier. Though she never used the word “class” – that carries a huge stigma.
If you’re feeling embarrassed of your partner, to the point where it potentially causes arguments (trying to change their habits), perhaps it’s better to rethink the relationship?
Is it all down to insecurity?
In an ideal scenario, we’d fall for a person who blends in to our social circles. Friends and family would approve, and we’d feel comfortable taking our partners anywhere. Realistically, we have to accept some leeway. The most confident can date whoever freely – they don’t worry about what so-and-so thinks. Or maybe they don’t use their partners to elevate their esteem. They happily accept their lover’s awkward humour and timid behaviour at parties.
I want to be that woman: Give me a man wearing a floral hat with the kindest heart and I’m sold. Surly, I’d have an easier time with love and satisfaction if I ignored neon and cowboy boots. But hey, I guess we all have our faults, and that’s mine. Though we can all agree, a date not saying thank you to waiters – always embarrassing.
What times have you felt embarrassed of your partner? Have you ever, or do you never concern yourself with other people’s opinions? If you enjoyed this post, consider reading: Dating Someone You’re Not Physically Attracted To