My Boyfriend Wanted Me To Be More “Ladylike” So Now He’s My Ex

I had a brief relationship with a guy who just didn’t think I was feminine enough and encouraged me to try harder to be “more ladylike.” Admittedly, I did attempt to change myself for the sake of the relationship, but I failed spectacularly and it ended in disaster.

  1. He had really old school views of women. Turns out, my ex’s definition of “ladylike” was very anachronistic. As in, if he’s dating somebody right now, I sure hope she’s happy with constantly setting aside her own needs and aspiring to be nothing more than a wife and mother while giggling sweetly at all his poorly crafted jokes. Not that there’s anything wrong with just being a wife and mother if that’s what you’re into, but I think all women should at least be treated like full human beings.
  2. I like dresses and skirts but I prefer jeans. It’s the 21st Century, so I didn’t think that anyone—much less a fellow millennial—would take issue with me wearing pants. It’s not like I never wear dresses and skirts; it’s just that I’m way more comfortable in pants. My ex nevertheless encouraged me to “dress more feminine.” I complied, but eventually went back to my regular graphic tees and blue jeans. Nobody’s gonna My Fair Lady this girl!
  3. I couldn’t shake my “inappropriate” sense of humor. I love dark, irreverent humor. Unfortunately, my ex thought it was “really crude” and “inappropriate for a girl” and encouraged me to change. I never did lose my sense of humor, but I did start laughing less and making fewer jokes around him. Of course, all this did was make me become increasingly unhappy.
  4. I resisted his attempts to change the TV shows I love. I watch shows like South Park and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia religiously, both of which my ex hated. He even claimed (often) that South Park “turns little kids who watch it into a-holes” while repeatedly ignoring my protests that it’s a show intended for adults, not kids. At one point, he commented that his sisters and other girls he knew liked watching Gilmore Girls, which made me laugh. There’s nothing wrong with Gilmore Girls, I’m sure, but there’s also no law that says you can only watch certain shows based on your gender.
  5. I don’t think it’s wrong to be an ambitious womanWhat I didn’t realize when I first set out to become more “ladylike” for him was that, in his mind, this also meant me becoming less ambitious. Despite him having grown up surrounded by women, my ex felt that women should never be more successful than their male counterparts. He also felt that once married, women should work as little as possible because their place was in the home. No thank you!
  6. Well, excuse me for having a full range of emotions. I also didn’t realize just how annoyed with me my ex would get whenever I would get “too angry” about something. Apparently, women are just not supposed to get that angry about anything, probably because we’re delicate flowers or something. Commence angry eye rolling!
  7. It wasn’t like he was the perfect gentleman. For all his ideas of how a proper lady should act, my ex was far from being the ideal gentleman. He always put himself first and didn’t care about any of my needs (including those in the bedroom). And while I don’t believe that guys should automatically have to pay for dates, I do believe that there should be a fair trade-off, and there was none here. I was usually the one who ended up paying for things, and at one point he even asked me to loan him money so he could buy a new car. He never did pay me back.
  8. The whole experience made me realize just how wrong our relationship was. There’s a silver lining to everything, and the good news is that not only was my quest to become more ladylike short-lived, but it also made me realize that my relationship had an early expiration date as well. We were together for only a few months, and my only regret is that I didn’t end things sooner.
  9. I actually found myself in the process. The other bright side of this story is that it made me learn more about myself and who I am. In fact, I think the only reason I even attempted to become more ladylike to begin with was that I was a bit insecure and still trying to find my footing as an adult. I know who I am at my core now, and I also know that anyone who asks me to change this just isn’t worth keeping in my life.
Brianna Gunter is an NYC-born Jersey girl now living in the Rocky Mountains. A graduate of The College of New Jersey's journalism program, her work has appeared in a multitude of publications both online and in print. When not writing about life as a millennial, she can be found hiking, hunting for pizza or making new dog friends.