Thought Catalog
February 10, 2017

What It’s Like Being In Love When You Have Body Dysmorphic Disorder

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We recently went to a house-warming party to our new neighbour’s apartment. When I left the kitchen area (the party area, let’s be honest) to have a nosy look round, I noticed this lovely arrangement above their fireplace. It must have been about ten to twelve photos of the couple, in one large collection of photo frames. I realised that my SO and I had no couple photos at all, let alone on display.

Okay, so there are some photos of us – I think my SO and I were tagged in a few from New Year’s Eve 2015 (of basically just me snogging his face off, a tad drunk), and there’s one of us taken in Princes Street Gardens when his mum came to visit (I do not like that photo as I look awkward in it). But there’s none that I actually like.

I’ve tried maybe three times previously to take a couple photo/selfie of us, but none have them have ever turned out good enough for display. It’s never my SO who looks bad.

It’s always me.

The thing about group selfies or couple selfies is that I can’t control them. I feel like I can’t sit there for ages to change my pose, move around for better lighting, or flick my hair over the other side to see if it looks better that way because there are other people with me. I think that if they see me do this, see me need to take at least 60 versions of the same photo, that they will think:

  • This girl is vain
  • This girl is insecure
  • The first photo was fine, why are we still doing this?

I need that time to get the right selfie because a large part of my body dysmorphic disorder has always been that I need control over how I look.

This is why I don’t like other people taking photos of me. This is why I don’t particularly like going to the hairdressers. This is why there are almost zero photos of me in my teenage years – I was the one behind the camera, taking the photo instead of being in it.

Whenever tagged photos occur (hardly ever nowadays) or somebody takes a photo which has me in it, I avoid looking at it completely – I used to bin my school photos before even looking at them.

It’s just easier not to see what I look like in it so that I can maintain the illusion that I look just like the mirror showed me that morning.

My SO is a beaut. He won’t like me writing this but when he first met one of my friends, just before we were about to leave for our Edinburgh move, she text me afterwards saying:

“Now I know why you’re going off to Scotland – he’s bloody gorgeous! I’d follow him wherever he went!”

I love to repeat this to him as he always blushes. He does not know how good looking he his. And I cannot help but feel that next to him, I am the ugly duckling.

I’d love to be able to change this. I joked to my SO that one day we should go around town, bring a few pieces of clothing with us, and take hundreds of couple selfies all over the place – making it look like almost 2 years of photos.

Maybe I will have the courage to do that one day soon. Maybe I won’t feel so inadequate next to my SO in a photo.

One day (before my wedding I hope, whenever that may be) I hope to have that confidence of letting somebody else take a photo of me and not worrying about it or avoiding it afterwards.

Perhaps one day soon my SO and I will take the loveliest couple selfie ever, and I will actually love it too.

I know that once my lovely SO reads this, he will come over to me, bury his head in my neck, squeeze me tight and say something like; “I wish you didn’t feel like that.”

I wish I didn’t feel like this too. TC mark