Is it Wrong for an Engaged Woman to Show Cleavage?

"I have to agree--there are few things lovelier than cleavage"

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You're hovering a bit there bucko.

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Hi Beth, 

If a woman wants to dress sexy and she is showing cleavage, then she’s showing her self esteem and confidence. But my question is, what if this woman is engaged? If she has always worn lower cut tops showing a good amount of cleavage, but is now engaged, why does she continue to if she has a man who loves her? Shouldn’t she not feel the need to make males look at her chest?

- Joe

 

Hi Joe,

I’m not sure I quite follow the logic in your email. We seem to be dealing with two different issues. The first is why women show cleavage–in your estimation it’s because they’re displaying their confidence (although perhaps you really mean, they’re seeking attention from others which in turn will give them confidence). The second is whether or not a woman in a relationship should continue to reveal her cleavage.

Women show cleavage for a variety of reasons, and yes, a big one is to garner positive attention from others, which is a surefire way to boost self-esteem, at least momentarily. They may also show cleavage because a top or dress they like just happens to display what God gave them. They may show cleavage because they simply think it’s a beautiful look (even as a straight woman, I have to agree–there are few things lovelier than cleavage), and as you stated, a way to show that they’re proud of their body. Right on.

The stickier wicket is whether a woman in a relationship should continue to wear cleavage-revealing ensembles after she’s committed to her partner. I think the assumption underlying this question is that the woman was only wearing such clothing in order to attract a man, and so now that she has a man, why would she keep on? This logic falls apart if that wasn’t the goal (or only goal). If she wears her low-cut tops to induce appreciative stares from others or to boost her confidence, then those needs probably haven’t gone away just because she’s in a relationship. I wish I could tell you that once we partner up, our other halves fulfill every need we have. I wish it were true that we got our self-esteem solely from being kind to others and finding hobbies we excel at and doing well in our jobs. But sometimes our needs are met by shallow means, and from people we hardly know. Men and women don’t lose the desire to be appreciated by others, or to be confident, just because we know someone loves us.

“Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun…”

Clearly, we’re talking about your fiance, Joe. And clearly it bothers you. I think it’s completely appropriate for you to ask your fiance to dress more demurely. Tell her how it makes you feel–I’m just guessing here, but tell her you feel uncomfortable with the looks she receives from other men, tell her it makes you feel badly that she still seems to need such looks even though the two of you are together. Be honest and upfront, and make it about YOU. Do not use shame- or blame-inducing words (i.e., you’ll be effectively shutting down the conversation forever and losing the right to put your two cents in if you ask her why she keeps dressing like a slut). You do have the right to tell her how her behavior affects you. But that’s it. Whatever she decides to do with that information…that’s up to her. And you have to live with it. She was dressing in this manner when you met her, right (“she has always worn lower cut tops…”)? I don’t know that it’s reasonable to ask her to change her style at this point.

I understand why it bothers you. I bet a lot of men out there would and do feel the same way. But relationships require that we allow our partners to be themselves within the confines of our union. This is, at its core, a matter of trust. Trust will be one of the most important tenets in your marriage. It will be difficult to grow and flourish together if you can’t trust her. Think deeply about what is at the root of your misgivings–if it’s just a pet peeve that you need to get over, then give yourself time, and remain open and honest with your fiance. If it’s something deeper and more serious that is leaking through and attaching itself to the issue of how she dresses, then now is the time to figure out what’s going on…not down the road after you’ve already said your vows.

-Beth

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