I always play build-a-boyfriend

He could do with a makeover… but am I being a control freak?

Not if you tread carefully, says our elder.

Dear EWC

I am 20 years old, in college, and have recently become involved with a guy I like a lot. He is probably one of the most genuine and transparent people you will ever meet. He is very genuine to his core. I have always found my boyfriend adorable in a “Aw, I wanna put him in my pocket” kind of way, and yes, I am legitimately attracted to him, but I cannot fight the urge to play build-a-boyfriend.

I’ll explain. Every time I have had a boyfriend since high school I have always felt the need to change their style in some way. My mother has brought this to my attention. I changed my camouflage-wearing high school boyfriend into a guy that refused to wear camouflage and grew a taste for Adidas clothes because of all of the nice clothes I would buy him. I changed my hippieish boyfriend into a guy with a clean-cut haircut and clothes that actually fit him in replacement for his long hair and baggy clothes when we met. I understand how this makes me sound and I promise I am not a control freak.

Anyway, my boyfriend has very nice features. He has big blue eyes, a sharp jawline, full lips, and a nice body — a good-looking guy. The only issue is nobody would ever know because he hides these features behind oval-framed glasses that make his blue eyes look small, a buzz-cut haircut at 22 years old, and he has moderate acne because he refuses to buy face wash for his face. He runs at least four to five times a week so he is in great shape, but I know if he let me give him a mini-makeover (some glasses that fit his face shape better, a new haircut, some actual face wash) he’d look even better and his self-esteem would probably be improved as well. I do not know if me wanting to makeover my boyfriend means I am crossing a line or being a control freak? Am I crossing a line?

Folk replies

Love and acceptance go hand in hand, so if you want to improve your boyfriend’s style without hurting his feelings or coming off as controlling, I suggest you tread carefully. That said, I don’t think it’s out of line for you to want to help your boyfriend choose glasses and a hairstyle that will enhance his natural good looks. It’s one thing though for him to ask for your help and another thing entirely for you to offer it unsolicited. In the scheme of things, after all, your boyfriend’s unbecoming oval glasses and mild acne are pretty minor issues; it’s his genuineness and transparency that attract you to him. But as long as you keep in mind that your boyfriend’s body is his own, and he gets to make the final call about any changes to his appearance, I don’t see any reason why you can’t offer him the benefit of your style sense advice.

When it comes to style, men seem to fall into two basic categories: the ones who care about it and those who don’t. If your boyfriend were one of former, I’d warn you to back off — however unflattering you may think his personal sense of style is. It sounds to me though like he is one of the latter — the kind of guy who doesn’t give a lot of thought to stuff like frame shape or face wash. So, since this is the case, I say go for it.

If you wear glasses yourself, a good place to start would be with a strategic shopping trip. While shopping for a new pair of glasses for yourself, you could encourage your boyfriend to try on some different frame styles “just for fun.” Then when he puts on a pair you really like, you could flatter the crap out of him by telling him how incredibly sexy they make his big blue eyes look. If he bites, you could suggest a new hairstyle to go with the new glasses. As for the face wash, I suggest just offering to let him try a bottle of whatever you use — after telling him how much you like it and what wonders it has worked for you.
This is a delicate business, and the key to handling it gracefully is not to press. Take your time, don’t go for too much too soon, and use plenty of positive reinforcement. In short, go ahead and work your makeover magic, but take your signals from your boyfriend, and don’t let any success you have in making these small changes encourage you to immediately try to make bigger ones. Instead, let him develop confidence in your style sense gradually. If you do this, there’s a good chance he will eventually choose to consult you, and if necessary, to defer to you on these matters.
I hope this helps. Good luck.

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