Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Help! My significant other hates my Goth style!

In my previous post about dating non-Goths, I mentioned how my partner Dan (whose birthday it is today, incidentally) has always been supportive of me however I decide to dress, and although he grumbles and mumbles a bit whenever I contemplate shaving sections of my head he has never batted an eyelid at any of my modifications or sartorial choices. I received an email this month that made me realise other people's other halves are not always so relaxed. In fact, the very nice gentleman who emailed me confessed that his girlfriend is highly disapproving of his preferred Gothy aesthetic and has expressed an intent to leave him if he doesn't change his style to suit her.

At first I found it hard to read such a piece of correspondence without being judgemental, but I quashed my urge to dash off an angry email in response demanding that this charming lad go and find himself a more tolerant lass who can see beyond the superficial and who doesn't want to 'change' him. Whilst my strong personal feeling is that you shouldn't be in a relationship with someone who can't accept you as you are, and you should certainly never begin a relationship with someone expecting them to change themselves for you, I don't know this lady and I don't know her motives for asking her partner to change his style, although I definitely don't approve of the ultimatum she seems to be extending.

There are some downsides to Goth/non-Goth relationships, even on a simply visual level - will your non-spooky boyfriend stick out like a sore thumb at every gig or club night you're dying to attend? Will he feel comfortable there? Conversely, will your preference for top hats and skull-topped canes embarrass your more conservative girlfriend on a night out to a regular nightclub or venue with her mates? Will she feel happy introducing you to her parents when you're clad in leather trousers and a corset? I don't think you should be expected to change yourself for your loved one entirely, but you both need to communicate and find compromises. If she doesn't want you to meet her grandmother wearing eyeliner, you can respect her wishes without losing your Gothy identity - just tone it down. But there has to be some form of give and take; if she sulks and glowers with a face like a smacked arse when you introduce her to your black-clad friends, perhaps it's time to have a think about how much you really have in common.

Speaking of things in common, perhaps another possible reason for a loved one being uncomfortable with your alternative style could be that they feel it's driving a wedge between you. I know that my friends have previously avoided asking me to events such as pop concerts or nights out at regular nightclubs because they've worried about offending my Gothy sensibilities or simply assumed that I wouldn't be interested. Does she think that your involvement with Goth will stop you from sharing her interests? Discuss it with her; show willingness to try things she's interested in or would like to do, even if they don't fall into the Goth category. A game of squash or bike ride together shouldn't kill you.
Dan and I on hols. (I get very excited about bus rides. Dan has epic duckface).
And whilst you're discussing the fact that being Goth doesn't stop you from being open to other things, you might want to gently try and work out how much she is actually aware of Goth culture and how much her view of your aesthetic and lifestyle is coloured by common misconceptions. Perhaps she's weird about you getting Gothed-up and going to the club because she thinks you'll be surrounded by scantily-clad vampire chicks offering cocaine (which depending on your local club scene might actually be close to the truth, in which case, assuming you're not in a polyamorous or open relationship it might be worth reassuring her that Goth does not equal automatically doing weird sex things with other Goths and that the only girl you find irresistible is her). I don't recommend giving her the full history of the Goth subculture, but maybe just mention that you prefer poetry, art and black humour to human sacrifice and drug abuse.

Hopefully by sitting down and having a heart-to-heart you can show her how important this lifestyle is to you and show her that it doesn't need to affect your relationship. However depending on her reasons for objecting to your preferred style she may stick to her ultimatum, in which case you need to ask yourself honestly how much you want to sacrifice to keep the relationship. Are you likely to find yourself resentful if you feel forced into a mould that's not at all you? Are you going to be happy in a relationship with someone who gives you orders to change? Maybe you could try calling her bluff - keep your black gear and big stompy boots but continue to be the all-round lovely person she was attracted to, and she might just decide it's not worth losing you over your style of dress.

Very best of luck.


Daniel_8964 said...

I agree with this Amy. For me, I'm waiting for the right person to date me one day in person or online in the future, someone who will accept and understand me for who I am. Then I'll have a relaxing relationship, better than being desperate as it wouldn't be a proper decent relationship, nothing but short and dull.

Lynoire said...

Agreed! ^^
Right now I'm dating a non-goth boy, who's always been fascinated and supportive whatever crazy stuff I put on, although my gothness is lessening these dayw. My previous boyfriend, on the other hand, who was into alternative - mostly metal - music, spiritualism ans such thing himself as well used to call me a childish attention-whore because of the gothy outfits...I do not mind if my other half prefers a different clothing style, but I hink, commenting mine is demeaning and humiliating, since it means, he doesn't love because of who and what I am; If ou love someone as he or she is, you don't feel ashamed because of their clothing style, imho...

Nightwind said...

Amy, I think you have given some good advice here. There are times when compromise is both reasonable and necessary, but it seems to me that this person's girlfriend is asking too much and it makes me wonder what she saw in him in the first place.

Hooking up with someone and then attempting to change him/her sounds like bad policy to me.

Komrade Woyzeck said...

Common misconceptions about Goth being only a 'stage' can only complicate things here. I don't know the particulars of your example Amy but many non-Goths are attracted to Goths for good and bad reasons. What happens when the novelty wears off and your partner realizes that you intend to do this thing full-time and for life?

As Goth mutates into a permanent, lifelong and evolving subculture, these kinds of issues will probably only get more complicated and common. It won't be just non-Goths that are surprised when their partners stay Goth. What will happen when two Goths change over time, one staying Goth the other going 'normal'? Or another likely scenario, what happens in a relationship when someone who seems like a non-Goth decides to return to their Goth roots after years of 'passing'?

Goth is more than skin deep. I don't know whether non-Goths understand this; and if they do I don't know whether they realize the longterm implications. In any case, it can be a source of delight and dismay.

Anonymous said...

Hi there.

I'm currently dating a non-Goth and he's awesome. Admittedly we make an odd pair (I'm quite the cyber/rivithead and he looks like he just stepped out of a country club) and we get a few looks when we walk around holding hands, but we make it work by both being ridiculous.

Dating someone in a different social spectrum than your own isn't a bad thing - as long as there is mutual understanding and a willingness to indulge eachother. This is true of EVERY relationship. Give and take and being able to introduce eachother to new things is vital to growth. Buidling experiences together strengthens bonds between friends, family, and lovers alike. Relationships wont go far if one person is expected to drop everything that makes them "Them."

I certainly hope for this guy it's just a bit of misunderstanding and he and his lady can find a common ground :)


Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

Personally I would tell them to get fucked. Especially since they would know what they were getting themselves into when they started the relationship.

THAT ex-boyfriend of mine (the one i bring up in these sorts of conversations) would bitch and moan saying i wasn't goth enough. Because it was 40 degrees out so I went in a sundress and shoeless to the train station to go home. i still have that dress actually, it's awesome. And then when we broke up he started dating a 14-year-old (really fucking annoying) scene kid. He was 20.

Also your blog won't let me subscribe to comments anymore. ;-; fix it!

Bane said...

I can see two very different scenarios. If two people are in an ongoing relationship and Partner A begins to dress in a radically different style, Partner B's discomfort may be justified. For example, a healthy jeans-and-tee "girl next door" loses weight to the scary-skinny point, starts going to tanning salons, bleaches her brown hair to a fake-looking blonde, and begins insisting on stilettos and diamonds with every outfit. Her husband is uncomfortable with her new appearance, and he deserves time for honest discussion (but NOT to issue an ultimatum). On the other hand, if she looked like Paris Hilton when he married her, he has no right to complain about the high heels and fake tan.

I’ve had both situations in my own life. When I started dressing in goth style, my parents (a long-term relationship, of course) were not comfortable with the attention my purple hair and striped tights brought. They never made any demands on me, but out of consideration for their discomfort, I pulled my hair back and dressed more conservatively when I went out to dinner with them. Conversely, I was asked out by a guy who met me while I was dressed in my normal gothy attire. On our third date, he made a disparaging comment about my clothes. That was our last date.

Tenebris In Lux said...

I do understand the angle of this post, but I couldn't see myself dating someone that wouldn't be accepting of my style, or judgemental/embarrassed by it. Why date them in the first place, or continue if it'll cause more tension in the future?

(Side note: I do think that there is a serious lack of Gothy gents that are confident in their looks, etc. I wish there were more)

And, a little off-topic: interestingly enough, my boyfriend and I are often confused as friends, not lovers. And funnier yet, when I say my boyfriend is coming, people expect to see some uber dramatic Goth dude decked out in the nines xD

Amy Asphodel said...

Kitty - I didn't change the comment thingy, it's the new popup format on Blogger. :-/ Will see if I can change anything but shouldn't think so.

Caroline Carnivorous said...

I'm just glad I have a black metal boyfriend. Although the past year or so I've managed to turn him more goth! Which is really fun ^^

kakuidori said...

i know i would not be willing to change for anyone. ive had a long time relationship with a non-goth guy who always tried to change me and i tried to. i felt never as unhappy as back then so decided even if it hurts in the first place i would never try to change again. maybe if i ever will be a mom this might be something different but not for a guy.

adds: but i think i could be happy with a non-goth guy... I THINK.

Raven, blogmistress extraordinaire said...

I evaluate everyone on the content of their character.
My ex was a metal kid who had a goth tendency or two, and he ended up cheating on me.
My current boyfriend listens to underground rap, and is an absolute darling.
They both look very much stereotypical of their genres, and act opposite of what would be often expected of them.

InfiltratorN7 said...

I don’t agree with ultimatums in relationships. I can imagine what good they’d bring to one, it seems to me that they’d only breed resentment. Compromise in any relationship is important but trying to change someone you’re supposed to be in love with? That’s messed up. If you love someone you’d accept and cherish them for who they are, even if you don’t understand some of the things that make happy. If you loved them wouldn’t you be happy seeing them doing the things that give them pleasure? It can be fun to share things you love with your partner and you both get to experience new things but you also both have to accept if one decides they really don’t like something. Don’t keep pushing them on it, just accept and find something else to do so you can both have a good time instead of devolving into arguments and resentment.

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