My boyfriend has started telling me how to dress. How do I make him stop?

Hi Evie!
23F here, been in a relationship with my SO for 2 years. We’re both quite introverted and enjoy spending a good deal of time at my house or his house, gaming or watching films. I don’t know if this is a recent change in my boyfriend’s behavior or if he was always like this (maybe I just didn’t notice), but lately he’s been making a lot of comments criticizing my style. I dress for comfort, not for fashion, but I take pride in my appearance and never go out the house unwashed or looking messy. My boyfriend has however started saying that I have no sense of style, that my clothes look cheap and don’t match, and that he’d rather I wear short summer dresses and tiny skirts. Once or twice, I’ve given in and worn an outfit he bought or chose for me, but I’ve spent the whole day feeling uncomfortable and insecure. Still, it’s been better than the terrible moods he has entered when I either wear something he doesn’t like or refuse to change. I’ve tried making him see my side of things, but he’s a very stubborn person and communicating how this is making me feel hasn’t worked. I would love any advice on how to get him to stop so I can feel comfortable again 🙁 – Zara, NH

Thanks for sending this one in, Zara!

Let’s talk about your fashion-forward boyfriend-sized issue.

First of all, good on you for recognizing that you have the right to feel comfortable in your own clothes. Anyone who tries to dictate your style or make you feel bad about it is not worth your time… let alone two years of it.

It really doesn’t matter if this behavior is new or if you just didn’t notice it before. What matters is that it’s happening now, and it’s making you unhappy. His comments are not only disrespectful but also a major red flag in terms of controlling behavior. Unfortunately, controlling tendencies often start small, and next thing you know, you’re having to ask permission to leave the house for groceries. A healthy relationship is built on mutual respect and acceptance, not on one person trying to mold the other into their ideal image or trying to strap them into a harness and drive them around.

Now, you’ve tried talking to him, which is a fantastic first step, but the fact that he’s not budging nor trying to see this from your perspective is bad news. That tells you something important: he’s either unwilling or incapable of respecting your boundaries and feelings. Either way, this is far from a foundation for a happy, lasting partnership.

So, here’s my advice: Ditch the boyfriend, not the wardrobe.

I rarely suggest breaking up outright, but your submission did make me incredibly sad. You deserve someone who loves you for who you are, not for who they want you to be. Trust me, there are plenty of fish in the sea who will appreciate your comfort-first fashion sense and celebrate your individuality.

Life’s too short to spend it feeling insecure and uncomfortable, especially in your own clothes. It’s also too short to waste time in the company of miserable partners who love making others just as miserable as they are. Go find someone who thinks you’re fabulous just the way you are – sweatpants and all!

With love and a gentle nudge towards the door,

Evie.

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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