Three months ago, my relationship was the best it’s ever been. Then my boyfriend started complaining that I always look like I’m in a bad mood. I’ve had a severe case of resting bitch face since elementary school. I ask why it’s suddenly a problem when my face hasn’t changed since we started dating eight years ago. He has no answer. I’m sick of having this same argument 20 times a day. I feel like he fights with me so his female co-workers will console him. I miss his affection. I try to smile so he can’t accuse me of bad moods. I take care of the house and kids, work full time, and treat him like a king, but he avoids me. I asked if the attraction is still there. He says yes, but rarely calls me beautiful. Am I expecting too much? Am I too sensitive?
Actually, you’re not being sensitive enough—toward yourself. I mean, resting bitch face? You really want to own that insult? Hey, I can get behind that Meredith Brooks song chorus from the ’90s: “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a mother…” because different situations may call forth different roles. I understand, too, that it’s important to accept that I’m capable of being a bitch. That way, if someone calls me a bitch, it lands without a sting. But telling yourself (and others) that you have resting bitch face is programming yourself to believe you have resting bitch face, which in turn keeps RBF etched on your face. That’s too much drama!
Let’s address expectations. In a romantic relationship, we want our partner to have our best interests at heart, to appreciate who we are and are becoming, and to value our commitment and contributions. We expect to experience affection and to rest in the knowledge that what binds us to each other is an attraction deeper than physical appearance. So, no, you are not expecting too much. But you tolerate too much negativity from your man because you fear losing him. Trust that if he leaves, you will still thrive. Plant yourself on the less fear, more faith life path.
The next time your man accuses you of having RBF, take a breath. Notice what’s happening in your body: Shoulders hardening? Torso corseting? Is your throat going dry? Relax. Then observe your man’s face, attitude and physical stance. Just see him. If you are a prayerful person, ask for healing words to flow through you to him. You can also say: “When I look in the mirror, I see a beautiful face and a beautiful soul.” Be aware that through his criticism, he is showing you his bad mood. So when he says you have a bad attitude, be curious: “I love being close to you. Do you want us to be close?” If he says no, ask what can be done to change that. If he says, “Nothing,” say: “Let me know when you think of something.” Then leave the room (and his negative attitude). Go on about your business. He may leave, or he may stay, but he will never find another you.