My Boyfriend Is Turned Off By My Hairy Legs.

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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?

Sincerely,
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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Comments:

  1. 61
    onlyonetime

    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
    Cara

    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
    SparklingEmerald

    https://web.archive.org/web/20170629014433/http://www.thefrisky.com:80/2009-12-16/dear-wendy-im-smitten-but-hes-broke/

    (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
    Brenda

    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
    Lee

    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
    Lee

    @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
    Lee

    @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.

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