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I feel like a jerk for noticing, but my girlfriend’s really been letting herself go during quarantine

  • Author: Wayne and Wanda
  • Updated: May 9, 2020
  • Published May 9, 2020

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

My girlfriend and I moved in together in January. We had just been getting used to living together and then COVID hit. I don’t think there’s a nice way to say this without sounding like a jerk but since mid-March when we both got furloughed, she has really let herself go.

We used to go to the gym together. Since they closed, I still go for walks and jogs but she refuses to leave the house. And she’s been comfort-eating, and while I still think she looks super beautiful, she has put on a few pounds.

She’s one of those girls that always puts makeup on, even when we’re camping! Well, she never puts makeup on anymore, and don’t get me wrong, I like her without it just fine, but it’s more like the message I’m getting is I’m not worth the effort. On that note, I’m pretty sure she skips showers here and there, and her hair has been in a ponytail basically every day, and it’s like all her cute clothes no longer exist. She just wears sweats and casual stuff.

I’m trying to be supportive, I know this time is stressful and scary for people, but I miss my cute, active girlfriend and I feel like I am saying all the wrong things because when I try to motivate her, she gets offended. Advice?

Wanda says:

First of all, you do not sound like a jerk; you sound like a person who is frustrated with their partner but also sensitive to how to express that in an encouraging way, and for that self-awareness, your girlfriend should certainly be grateful.

Then there’s this: Yes, this time is stressful and scary, and for some of us, dealing with that means just doing the basics. Being a girly girl? It’s hard work! Makeup, hair, outfit selection, accessorizing, shoe choices — these are not things that just magically happen, but actions that take some thought and effort, and at times just feel tiresome, expensive and irritating. I know I’ve harbored resentment that I can’t figure out a way to get ready for work in less than 30 minutes, yet I know for a fact my male teammates need about 10 minutes from alarm to driveway.

It could very well be that your girlfriend is overwhelmed by, well, everything, and is grateful for the vanity break. If there’s any gift from COVID-19, isn’t it stretchy pants? Pushing her to get dolled up daily just isn’t going to win you any points right now.

My suggestion: Embrace her bedhead, don’t push her, but think of creative ways to get her to occasionally step it up, like suggested a fancy Friday night cocktail hour that entails the both of you dressing up in date-night attire. She may regress to hoodies and leggings come morning but at least you’ll get a glimpse of the glamour girl that caught your eye in the first place.

Wayne says:

Ten minutes? Really, Wanda? This Axe Body Spray doesn’t apply itself. It takes men at least 15 minutes to pull off an even halfway decent bed-to-business morning turn-and-burn, especially if we’re grabbing a protein shake on the way out the door. Twenty minutes if we have an important meeting or lunch date on the Outlook Calendar.

Of course, those days are gone for now. For most of us fortunate enough to currently remain employed, our “offices” are probably within 100 feet of our showers. A collared shirt and combed hair pass as a serious business look these days — slacks optional. (If your web cam is angled just so, no one will ever know you’ve been in the conference wearing your favorite running or basketball shorts.) Today, people are choosing business comfortable over business casual. Fleece is the new wool blazer.

Those “standards” should not be enforced on those who aren’t lucky enough to be working these days.

Unless they’re interviewing for another job or checking in with a supervisor while furloughed, there’s absolutely no reason to dress up during the day. Why? To look fine under your mask while grabbing the last bag of rice from the grocery store? To let the neighbors know you haven’t lost a step — or your sanity — while you make your daily appearance to check the mailbox?

Every day of our responsible adult lives, we’ve all had to put on our version of our game faces and work uniforms: uncomfortable shoes/boots, shirts with buttons, unnecessary toiletries. So who really cares if your girlfriend is taking a break from the pressure and routine of the everyday prep and grind? There will be plenty of time for all of that when things get back to normal. At which time I’m sure she’ll happily wake up an hour earlier than you so she can look and feel amazing for her workday.

If you want to keep up appearances, go for it, Don Draper. Just don’t force it on her or anyone else. Let her catch her breath and catch up on her rest. Heck, maybe take a day off from your days off and spend an extra hour in bed with her once or twice a week. Might be just what you both need.