My Boyfriend Is Turned Off By My Hairy Legs.

My Boyfriend Is Turned Off By My Hairy Legs.

I’m 25 and have been dating a man who is 34 for the last 1.5 years. There is a lot to like about him – he’s smart, kind, caring, and dependable. He is almost the elusive ‘alpha male nerd’. He likes taking charge and being ‘the man’ in the relationship, but he is also sensitive and loves to spend hours reading on the couch next to me. We have a lot of shared interests and generally get on like pals. He constantly tells me how beautiful I am, and how amazing he thinks I am as a person. But here is the caveat:

He is repulsed by my leg hair. I’ve never been one to shave or wax my legs very consistently. Over the winter I’ve been known to go for 6 months without grooming. But last year decided that this whole hairless thing was kind of silly (and kind of sexist…not anyone’s fault just the jolly old patriarchy and all) and definitely not worth the time and money it took to keep my legs smooth.

My boyfriend was not pleased about this. All of a sudden the man who told me he couldn’t stop loving me even if I gained a hundred pounds and wanted to have sex twice a day now doesn’t have much interest in having sex with me at all. He told me recently he doesn’t even like cuddling anymore because he can feel the hair. Yet he is still happy to accept oral sex from me…

So I know this could technically be exchanged for any other body part. What if my boyfriend didn’t like my short hair cut or my pubic hair, etc. But leg/armpit hair seems to be unique. It is such a widespread and visible practice that I think many men just automatically associate furry legs as manly, and assume that all girls magic themselves hairless without much effort. My boyfriend has said he’s tried to get over this but can’t.

I am at a loss for what to do. On the one hand, even though the thought of having to groom all over for the rest of my life seems terrible, it’s not the worst compromise to make for an otherwise great man. On the other hand I’ve found something that makes me feel great about my body. I know it sounds crazy but not shaving has made me feel more powerful, more human, and oddly more feminine. And something feels kind of gross about taking the razor to that for a man.

But I know you like numbers, and I know that more men are going to find smooth legs attractive than men who will find hairy legs attractive. But I also know there is a fair amount of men who don’t really care.

At the moment I’m feeling really hurt and unattractive and that’s not how one hopes to feel in a lifelong partnership. Yet I know he feels hurt too. Even though we’ve had long conversations about my reasons for doing it and how I don’t mind doing for him occasionally but not every day and how I want to find other ways to be ‘sexy’, he still feels like this is a really easy and nice thing I could do for him. Though when I asked him to shave his legs for a month just to see what it was like, he refused. I feel especially hurt because I’ve accepted him for exactly who he is, and have never asked him to change anything about himself (appearance or otherwise). He’s average height, a bit overweight and balding. But I chose to get over those things because he’s an otherwise great guy and I’m still sexually attracted to him as a whole. I am a 25 year old yoga instructor. I don’t mean to sound conceited but I know I look pretty fab. Yet he can’t get over a bit of body hair…

So what do I do? Do I get over it and just shave my legs or risk losing this relationship as well as potential future partners who will be grossed out by my leg hair?

Or do I leave the relationship letting him find a new pair of legs, and moving on to hairier pastures?

Kayla (aka Chewbacca)

I’m somewhat surprised that I haven’t been asked this question before, and somewhat surprised that I don’t have a ready-made answer.

Your boyfriend isn’t asking you to undergo a personality transplant. He’s asking you to something you’ve done before, something you did before you met him, something that is widely accepted as standard practice for women.

But your question is so well-written, Kayla, that it seems like you’ve already thought of this from most angles. First:

It is such a widespread and visible practice that I think many men just automatically associate furry legs as manly, and assume that all girls magic themselves hairless without much effort. My boyfriend has said he’s tried to get over this but can’t.

You kind of nailed it right there.

I can see why it’s frustrating to you, but attraction is not something you can logic your way into. It’s why you can’t force yourself to be attracted to the nice guy who brings you flowers on the first date, or force yourself to be attracted to the bland CPA who will probably make a good husband for someone, just not you.

We can go back and forth and negotiate WHY you’re not attracted to him — and while we may even make some headway in figuring it out, what does it change?

Unless the CPA were to undergo a personality transplant, you’re still not going to be attracted to him.

And that’s where your situation is different. Your boyfriend isn’t asking you to undergo a personality transplant. He’s not asking you to try polyamory. He’s not asking you to quit being a yoga instructor and get a desk job.

He’s asking you to do something you’ve done before, something you did before you met him, something that is widely accepted as standard practice for women.

Here’s an entire New York Magazine article about it from last summer.

So you can blame the patriarchy and choose to rebel against it.

Or you can shave your legs and armpits like 90+% of the population, because it will mean that your boyfriend remains attracted to you.

I know that sounds insensitive — like I’m putting his needs before yours.

I’m not. I’m acknowledging what you wrote.

On the one hand, even though the thought of having to groom all over for the rest of my life seems terrible, it’s not the worst compromise to make for an otherwise great man.

You gain far more from a lifetime with this man than you lose in the 10 minutes a week you spend shaving.

This is really what it comes down to. Your issue is body hair. Other couples may quibble about money or fitness or cleanliness or family.

But it’s all the same question: Would I rather compromise to make my partner happy, or would I rather find a different partner?

No one in the world can answer that for you. But I would suggest, given how hard it is to find the “elusive alpha male nerd”, that you gain far more from a lifetime with this man than you lose in the 10 minutes a week you spend shaving.

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  1. 61

    Thank you for your amazing comment. I believe that we are our own worst enemies.
    OP,if you are reading this,please ignore the comments here. Everybody is talking out of their own prejudice and biases. Follow your heart unapologetically. Nobody,certainly nobody here knows your situation like you do.
    And to be honest,your boyfriend is no prize! He is selfish and immature. He seems like the kind of man that will cheat on you after you’ve had his first child. His reason would be because you gained weight!

  2. 62

    My daughter always shaved in the spring, summer and fall, not in winter. She had a bf who one day say it was “a woman’s responsibility to keep her legs shaved for men.”   We aren’t really feminist minded, but … really? a responsibility??   We told him that it is a chore, honestly, and sometimes you just don’t feel like doing it.

    A deal was made.   If he completely shaved his legs, and still thought it should be a responsibility, then ok.   He did. He grumbled and squirmed, but did it. The first day he marveled at how great his legs felt. Then it started to grow back, then it started to itch. Then he bemoaned doing it ever. And agreed that it was a pain. And that he would never complain again if she did or didn’t.

    If the OPs bf will at least do what he expects of her, then I say shave. If he won’t at least play along, I think there is more to the story.

  3. 63

    (the above linked advice column also has a letter on the whole leg shaving thing)

    Here’s another take on this.   The OP says she didn’t shave in the winter (I guess they met in the spring).   My guess is she shaved during seasons when her hair would be seen in public.   So to me that would indicate that this is something she at one time was willing to do for the general public, but not for the guy in her life ?

    That to me would be the equivalent of being with a guy who never again wanted to treat you to a meal, a treat, a night out EVER in the name of “equality”, then you find out he frequently buys rounds of beers for his buddies and chips in every time the hat is passed around at work, for birthdays, gifts for the boss etc.

    It would be hurtful to be with someone, who is willing to commit a simple act for others, but not for you.

  4. 64
    Madi Meredith

    Here’s your answer, simply and easy:

    If you want to shave, shave. If you do not like shaving, do not shave.


    If he cannot support your choice on something so mindless, so unimportant in the large scheme of things: move on if you feel you need to.


    If it makes you unhappy to shave, then recognize your content with who you are is a lifelong practice. You are the one who lives in your body and with your thoughts. Be sure that these things which affect your body and mind are positive. Otherwise, kick it to the curb. Life is short, no need for negatives.

  5. 65

    I certainly understand why her boyfriend would have a PREFERENCE for smooth legs, but at the end of the day, love means accepting the other person warts and all. You can’t hold a relationship hostage under the condition that someone change how they look. If something as small as body hair could be such a dealbreaker for him, it doesn’t sound like their connection is strong enough. She should dump him.

  6. 66

    To everyone using the ol Egyptians n Romans were hairless bit. Egyptian women also kept a bald head and no eyebrows cuz they drew them back on. Sound hot?

  7. 67

    @dan you’re half correct by leaving out the fact Egyptian women also kept bald heads n removed their brows n redrew them n how many men run around with that as their attractions on their profiles. Egyptians were also a very wealthy mostly and known society people who were poor or not Egyptian May not have removed anything

  8. 68

    @david you’re willing to make a “compromise” because you already remove the hair so that in and of itself is not compromise. I stated u thought u looked better that way so it’s your choice.

  9. 69

    I agree in general with the advice in that it’s a ‘little’ thing. But that is whole problem, he is reacting very extreme to this little thing by even refusing to cuddle. Yes, this little thing can be fixed ‘easily’, but what if another little thing makes him not attracted to her anymore and she can’t fix it. I think the author tries to explain how this made her uncomfortable, him not willing to compromise at all. I think underlying this relationship for him might mostly be physical attraction. At the moment she as a 25 year old is perfect, if she shaves her legs for him, but I would not trust him to love you when you age or gain weight.
    Yes, everyone has preferences, but once you are in a relationship and you love someone, little changes in someone’s looks shouldn’t change your attraction that drastically, otherwise you will never survice growing old together.

  10. 70

    lol 10 minutes to shave per week. no way, it takes A LOT more time than that for some people. And those might be the ones who decide not to do it because the effort is just not worth it. For me, my hair grows back in a few days, not a week. And it grows back ingrown, under the skin. So I have to spend a lot of time getting it out (it looks unsighlty becuase you cn see the hairs even though they have grown under the skin). Getting the hairs out from under the skin takes … to be honest I can’t even say how long – but a long time. Also, hair removal means that you don’t have the protective oils from the hairs any mroe and skin gets therefore extremely dry on some people. In myself, over years of hair removal that has resulted in a thickened layer of dry skin that my skin has made in kind of resistance to this dryness. Therefore I have to moisturize extensively. This is now more than normal dry skin, but evolved into an actual condition. That take, well as much time as I am willing to spend. But to go back to the actual hair removal – that takes about half an hour per leg. That results in an 80% job because there are always some hairs which I can’t get out from under the skin. But that is the best I can do. Then a couple of days later you already see those coming up. So…. in essence hair removal doesn’t work for me. Not for my skin or hair type. It is wayyy to much time and effort. I could do laser treatment but that is very expensive and time consuming and to be honest I do like the idea of permanently altering my body away from its natural state. Temporarily is fine – but permanently is a very strange idea for me. I am sure that many women, especially with dark hair, very fine hair (which grows under the skin) and thick hair can relate to this. So please don’t insult us by saying it’s just 10 minutes a week. That is such a joke.

  11. 71

    …and I forgot to mention that I have to wax/ epilate. I cannot shave because I am allergic to the metal in the razor and I get a leg full of raised red bumps which last at least a day. Then by the next day you can see the little black circles of the hair growing back. So with shaving it never looks good either. So I use an epilator to pull the hairs out at the root. ut that leads to the inrgown hair problems I stated in my original post. So, yeah. Acting like oh you are too lazy not to remove hair and its only ten minutes every 7 days. hahahahahahahah good one. Yeah maybe for some people with hair that matched their skin color and you can’t even really see it, it’s not a problem. But for people with skin and hair that don’t match color., then you can see every hair that is left And for those with thick hair or resulting skin problems – hair removal takes HOURS per week, not 10 minutes

  12. 72

    My main man likes me being a hairy woman. If I even talk about shaving he has a conniption. He likes to lick my underarm sweat, wearing a bikini with public eyes seeing my pubic hair. A long time ago a student asked why was I so hairy and another date made few comments as to my leg hair. He made remarks about it hairy legs every time we were together. At this point my main man likes the look when the sunlight hits my thighs in the car….so stay hairy. Oh yes I’ve a bunch of chin hair. Students would talk about it and make it the topic. I still shave their every other day as that is a sore spot for me. People will stare instead of carry on a conversation. Many female friends have said aren’t you going to shave especially as the warm weather would appear! I like the attention my legs get as I’m 5’10”. My ex said he could braid my leg hair once before. Love and embrace…don’t shave

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