“You don’t get injectables, do you?”
I was posed this question on a fifth date with a man I had been casually seeing. It wasn’t out of the blue — I’d just mentioned I was writing a story about injectable filler. “Of course not!” I responded. It was a complete and total, bald-faced lie.
The truth is, I’ve been getting injectables for over a year and a quick Google search would reveal that I have been very outspoken about it. When it comes to what I choose to do to my face, I feel no shame. In fact, I’m proud of it. I often post about it on Instagram®, write about it incessantly, and am the first to sing its praises to my friends who are thinking about taking the (needle) plunge for themselves. But for some reason, I had a hard time telling my date the truth as we sipped on pinot noir.
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet; they should not be used more frequently than every three months. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.]
I’d decided there was really no reason for me to open up about my choice of cosmetic procedures (and, for what it’s worth, I never saw him again). Our exchange did get me thinking, though, and led to a Carrie Bradshaw “aha” moment: Is there a “right” way to talk about injectables when you’re dating? I decided to consult with experts on the subject to see just how to broach the topic on dates — if at all.
“I believe when someone takes care of their appearance, they should be proud of it,” says Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD, a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon based on New York City’s Upper East Side. “Afterall, nobody would ever think of hiding the fact that they regularly go to the gym to appear fit, or worry about their partner finding out that they are using makeup.”
Alix Tunell, a New York City-based beauty editor and Spotlyte writer, openly shares her own injectables experiences with potential partners. "It usually comes up on a first date,” she says, when her date asks what she writes about. “If I mention I'm working on a story about new injectables or popular plastic surgeries, they inevitably ask, 'Do you do any of that stuff?' at which point I say, 'Yes — I've done X, Y, and Z, and I love it!'"
That said, having these types of conversations may not always be easy. “I’ve had several patients that were nervous about their partner’s reaction in regards to them getting injectables,” says Dr. Vasyukevich. “However, if you tell your partner what is bothering you, and include them in the decision-making process, they [should] understand your perspective and, in turn, support you.” He also adds that he believes that honesty is the best policy.
Though the edict of “honesty is the best policy” is generally a good one to live by, relationship expert Susan Winter doesn’t totally agree in this particular scenario. “This is nothing for which someone should feel shame, and I’d question the need to make any comment about it to a partner, whatsoever,” she says. “The desire to [address] one’s looks doesn’t mean a person is vapid or unsure of themselves.”
She notes that even though there’s less stigma surrounding injectables than ever before, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a conversation you have with someone you’re romantically involved with. If you don’t want to talk to a partner about the fact that you’re thinking about getting injectables — or that you’ve gotten injectables in the past — you shouldn’t have to.
If you are thinking about getting injectables, but aren’t sure how to bring it up in conversation with a partner, a valuable factor is to make sure your partner understands that the decision is about you — not them. Your significant other might just say “please don't change, I love you just the way you are,” but therapist Jorge Fernandez, LCSW, specifies that isn’t the point. “You want to do something for yourself,” he explains. “What you are looking for is support in doing it for you, not the reassurance that they will be OK.”
If your significant other still isn’t accepting, it may be time for both of you to ask some tough questions. “You want to understand why your partner isn't supportive — whether it is a personal belief about cosmetic procedures or fear of aesthetic change — and have them understand your desire to [get injectables],” says Fernandez. Can they be supportive of your goals, aesthetic or otherwise?
If you treat it like a taboo confession, people will react like it is.
For Tunell, these conversations are important to have off the bat. She finds that they’re valuable when meeting a potential partner — and can also help destigmatize injectables. "If you treat it like a taboo confession, people will react like it is,” she says. “It’s best to talk about injectables matter-of-factly, and tell your date or partner why you get them, what they do for you, and why you like the results.”
It’s also highly possible that your date doesn’t really understand what injectables are or do. Tunell says, “If they previously thought injectables meant expressionless faces and comically huge lips, they'll likely reconsider after looking at you.” (After all, there are plenty of people who have tried injectables and found that no one even noticed a difference in their appearance!) “Unless you're asking your partner to pay for your treatments, I wouldn't ask them for permission or if they're OK with it — just own it."
Ultimately, when it comes to talking to a partner about getting injectables, all of the experts agree that the conversation isn’t anything to be afraid of. “I advise my clients to be open about the importance of their appearance,” says Dr. Vasyukevich, of anyone who’s thinking about getting injectables for the first time. “Once your partner knows, they [should] be happy to support you.” The bottom line, though: No matter what your partner has to say about it, the decision is ultimately yours to make.