Love Is…Waxing Your Girlfriends’ Armpits
And why this can be a vital clue for spotting a narcissist.
July 12, 2021 by Kara Summers
It must have been the third or fourth time that I had spent all day in a hotel room with Andy*. We had taken the day off work and didn’t leave our room from the moment we checked in until we had to leave in the evening. It was exciting and exhausting at the same time, but I loved every second. In fact, I had never experienced this level of attraction with anyone ever before. But then I had never been with anyone like Andy before. He was my soulmate.
I had only known him for a couple of months, and our relationship was a few weeks old, but it felt like a lifetime. He was so much like me, I felt we knew each other inside out. He already knew all my secrets, and more about me than my ex-husband managed to remember in 10 years of marriage. There was no doubt in my mind, Andy was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.
So here I was, with the love of my life, playing out scenes that could have come straight from a high-budget porno. Everything is almost too perfect. The sex seems like something from out of this world. Exhausted, but happier than ever I go to the bathroom to sort myself out. My pulse still racing, the hormones running wild. And with my head in the clouds, not being able to think clearly, I make a mistake. I don’t lock the bathroom door. In fact, I even leave a slit open, that one could peak through. It’s something I am used to doing, having 2 small children in the house. Bathroom locks are for serious business.
“Are you actually going to the bathroom with the door open?” I flinch when I hear his booming voice and embarassment overcomes me. He wasn’t able to peek as the bathroom is around the corner, but it was a close call. To be honest, I wouldn’t have minded if he had done. After all, I acted with him like I would with my husband after years of marriage. It feels so familiar, I just don’t really think about these things. But quite clearly he does, as I get told off when I come back:
“I can’t believe you just did that. I never want to see you pee Kara! It destroys the magic. In all the 10 years I have been with my wife, I have never ever seen her pee!”
I think about this statement for a long time. Is it true? Will the sex with him always feel this special and intoxicating because he will not see my body in any other capacity than when we make love? Is that why my ex-husband wasn’t attracted to me for the past years? Did I kill the magic?
This incident in itself, wasn’t a big deal. People have different boundaries, and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that I previously told my husband off for leaving the toilet door wide open when he took a dump. No, the reason I remember this incident so distinctly is because it was the very first time that I felt I had done something horribly wrong, without ever intending to. And of course, it wouldn’t be the last time.
It was also the very first seed of doubt I had about the future of our relationship. Because from now on, I knew I had to watch what I was doing or saying in Andy’s presence.
What would we be like if I couldn’t be myself in front of him? What else did I have to do not to ruin the magic of our relationship? And who would hold my hair when I was sick, or look after me when I was old and senile?
I didn’t know it then, but Andy is a covert narcissist. And we weren’t in love, but I was love-bombed. This all makes so much more sense when you see it in that context.
For starters, narcissists lack object constancy, which means they see everything either black or white. Humans are either completely perfect, or imperfect, there is no inbetween. The narcissist of course views themself as perfect and during the love-bombing phase, so is their target.
There are different theories to how the transition between being the impersonation of the perfect human being to seemingly someone who can’t put a foot in front of the other correctly takes place. But everyone who has been with a narcissist will know that it happens. A few weeks into our relationship, I still had to be perfect. Just one year later, just about everything was wrong with me, from the way I dress myself to my voice or what I ate.
One theory coined by Prof. Sam Vaknin, who is a diagnosed narcissist himself, is that narcissist store an image of the partner in their head at the start of a relationship. The perfect image, to be precise. They essentially take a snapshot of what they see, how they see someone or what they believe and want to see in someone. From there on they will exclusively interact with this stored image, rather than with the real person. Anything that the “real” person will say or do that deviates from this stored image they cannot handle.
For me, this wouldn’t only explain the toilet door incident, but many later mood swings of Andy when I didn’t behave in-line with how I was at the very start. Like when I got angry about his disrespect and he yelled at me: “I never want to see this angry face of yours again, Kara.”
I tend to be quite easy going and fun when meeting people but later on, I struggled to deal with his constant put-downs and disrespect. And altough he had told me that he was very sensitive and empathetic and would constantly comfort his ex-wife, I saw the opposite behaviour with me, he got ragingly angry.
Now it may be that he was simply lying about his behaviour towards is ex, as he did with everything, but I can also see an element linking back to Vankin’s theory: I was supposed to be the fun one. His little adventure, the person who would fulfill all his fantasies that his wife refused to engage in. I was supposed to adore him and never question him. I wasn’t supposed to have feelings. My body was to function for sexual pleasure alone.
When my friends came round the other night, their wedding planning was the top discussion. They have been together for 5 years and are finally tying the knot this year. I know they fight from time to time and have differences, they have both been through a lot, but when I see them together, I am reminded that true love exists.
In preparation for the wedding, my friend Savannah is trying all sorts of new beauty treatments. “And last week Ben tried to wax my armpits”, she says casually, “it didn’t work very well!”. We laugh. And then I feel a little sting. I am not jealous, I am happy for them. I really can’t see myself having a relationship just now. It’s just that I couldn’t imagine ever letting anyone wax my armpits. No, I couldn’t even imagine an intimate partner looking at my armpits. It is the stark contrast to the kind of relationships I have had that stings.
While I didn’t need to worry about the toilet door with my husband, I also realize that I was never truly myself. He was so unemotional and distant that I never cried in front of him. I’d watch emotional movies when I was alone or hide in the dressing room to have a long cry after my gran had died. I have never been in a relationship where I could truly be vulnerable. I have never been in a relationship where I didn’t worry about showing my true, raw and ugly self.
I am not alone. According to a 2018 new report, only 1 in 20 male Brits have seen their other half without make-up on. But is it really love, if we have to hide / adjust / pretend or constantly watch what we are saying or doing?
Of course, there were plenty of other red flags in my relationship with Andy that I blissfully ignored. After all I have learned about this condition now, I can’t imagine that I would easily fall for a narcissist again, but then again they are very clever at hiding their true self.
But maybe the key to finding out are my friends Savannah and Ben. Maybe I should just ask potential partners on the first date: “Hey, would you ever consider waxing my armpits?”
I probably won’t. But I will look out for how someone views me. How they react to little imperfections and the way they talk about me and my body.
Because I know one thing for sure: There really are good guys out there. There are guys who are able to not just accept but love their partner for who they are, all of it. The good, the bad, the ugly and even the armpits.