If Pleasing Your Partner Requires Doing Something Unpleasant, Should You Do It Anyway?

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There's nothing wrong with wanting to do something special for your significant other. You should both want to turn each other on, whether you're in the early stages of dating or you've been living together for months. Dressing up in lingerie or getting a bikini wax because it pleases your partner can actually be beneficial for your relationship. Yes, it is sometimes true that you shouldn't do anything you're not comfortable with. But in other cases, stepping outside of your comfort zones may be just what you and your partner need to maintain a healthy and happy partnership.

I spoke to Michelle Afont, love advisor and author of The Dang Factor, about whether or not you should endure something unpleasant just for the sake of your partner's pleasure. As a divorce attorney for over 20 years, Afont is experienced in the world of breakups, makeups, and "re-launching love." Plus, she's conducted extensive research including more than 4,000 interviews with men and women about "the intricacies of love, commitment, faithfulness, and what really makes a relationship work" — so she knows what she's talking about. If you're wondering where you should draw the line between pleasure and pain (because let's face it: waxing will never be enjoyable), here's what one expert has to say.

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If you're not totally into an idea, but you know that your partner prefers it, Afont says that you should at least make an effort to validate what turns them on or off. "We want our feelings to be recognized," says Afont. She stresses that this goes both ways; you shouldn't be the only one making concessions in your relationship.

Maybe your significant other loves when you wear heels, but they hurt your feet. If you tell them, "I don’t care what you want. I’m not going to do it," Afont says that you're going to build resentment between the two of you. Instead of making it a point of contention, she suggests coming to a compromise. Maybe you wear heels only in bed, when you're not standing on your feet for long periods of time.

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Afont also emphasizes the fact that you should try to refrain from obsessing over the way you look. There's a difference between being a little uncomfortable in your skin and being in physical pain. "As women, we tend to overly scrutinize our bodies when in fact our partners really don't care that we have cellulite or a scar or whatever it is," she says. "By analyzing every portion of our being, it acts as a barrier to the fun things or the things that turn your partner on. So much of it is just a mental attitude."

You might argue that these little gestures are not that important overall. But as Afont points out, the sad reality is that if your partner isn't feeling heard or getting their needs met, they will go find what they want somewhere else. It may be difficult to hear, but that doesn't make it any less true.

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In any relationship, you should make an effort to care about what your partner wants and validate what turns them on or off. "I’m not talking about extremes in any way shape or form. Stepping outside your comfort zone to a degree is very good for your relationship. Going crazy kinky because that’s what your partner wants may not be so good," says Afont.

Relationships are about more than just physical appearances or giving one another pleasure. They're about striking a balance, making compromises, and above all, simply listening to each other and acknowledging what you both like and dislike.