There’s a scene in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days where Kate Hudson’s character Andie Anderson, resident how-to girl at Composure magazine, strategically takes over her new boyfriend’s bathroom, stocking the vanity with tampons and Vagisil and redecorating with a furry, pink toilet seat cover that causes him to lash out in a fit of pure horror.
Her goal was to freak him out so he’d break up with her, and even though it was all a prank, there’s also some very real symbolism in the scene. It was a sign she was, yes a little clingy, but also comfortable and serious about the relationship.
While I think we can all agree that Andie was moving too fast, there are no written “rules” on when it’s appropriate to leave a sweater or a hairbrush behind for future use. In my experience, leaving personal belongings behind at a new guy’s house is a big, scary step. It's a commitment to seeing him again, which also hints at more frequent visits or sleepovers. You know when you’re ready, but is it going to freak him out to find bobby pins on his bedside table?
I found myself in this very situation a few weeks ago with my new boyfriend, and you better bet I asked all my friends—and my hairstylist—for advice: How soon is too soon to leave my beauty products at my boyfriend’s apartment?
It’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer—for me, anyway.
My nighttime skin-care routine isn’t for the faint of heart. Even when I'm horribly drunk, I always, always, always take off my makeup before bed for fear of breaking out. Add to this the fact that my boyfriend lived over an hour away from me, and that meant I would have to pack and carry all my products with me every time I wanted to see him.
So, for the health of my hair and skin, I began what I felt was the necessary step in our romance. Also, it just feels nice to know you’re a constant in someone’s life.
I was happy to cart around all my stuff in the beginning, but it got old fast, and as we got more serious, I figured why put up with the shoulder pain my overflowing tote bag was causing me? Yeah, you better bet I shoved everything in a handbag and not a duffle, which just screams "I'm moving in!"
So as soon as he left a pair sweatpants at my apartment, on purpose after a month of seriously dating, I felt like it was fair game. It felt a little fast, but I didn’t have a problem with the pace, especially considering apart from a bottle of Lacoste cologne in the medicine cabinet, he was pretty much void of anything I’d need to keep my skin or hair looking at least somewhat acceptable. A bottle of 2-in-1 was NOT going to cut it on my dry, damaged, highlighted hair, no matter how convenient it is, bro. And while I actually think men’s deodorant works quite well, I don’t always want to smell like “Ocean Force Blast” on a regular basis. Give me something powdery and feminine and I’m a happy gal.
I started small because, in my opinion, leaving a blow-dryer or a set of makeup brushes felt monumental. There’s something about a “tool” that feels very serious and intimate. I love my mini Clarisonic, but I felt like him finding it in his shower was the equivalent of stumbling upon my secret “Wedding Inspiration” Pinterest board. In my opinion, “tools” fall under the six months to a year time frame, and we just weren’t there yet.
The first item I strategically left behind was something I figured he may or may not notice—deodorant meant to appear nonchalantly on its side on the bathroom counter.
He never acknowledged it until I asked him if I had “forgotten” my deodorant stick. His answer? “Oh yeah, you forgot it. Were you trying to mark your territory?” While that might have been subconsciously present in my decision, the answer is no. I was just trying to make it look like I wasn't moving all my belongings via the MTA on Saturday nights. I laughed it off and further defended my “forgetful” mind. I probably should have just owned up to it, though, looking back.
Thanks to the successful deo stick moment, I felt confident enough to bust out a packet of makeup wipes; specifically, the amazing Clean Truth Cleansing Cloths from Ole Henriksen ($15; sephora.com). I’m half tempted to stop writing about this assimilation process and just dedicate the rest of my article to these incredible wipes. So good. But in all seriousness, I purposefully picked something that didn’t take up too much space, and call me messy, but I left them on his bedroom floor.
The hair situation was dire, though. Boyfriend didn’t even have conditioner in his shower, let alone a hairbrush. I about had a panic attack in the shower after realizing I was definitely going to rip out a good amount of my hair trying to get his fine-tooth comb through my tangled, dry ends.
The unfortunate hair product situation led me to leave travel-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner in his shower. I offset this by also bringing him a bunch of men’s body wash and asking him to give them a test and share his thoughts on the formulas. Honestly, they were A+ products I would consider using in my own routine, so everyone was a winner that day.
Throughout the five weeks that followed, I left behind hair ties, a bottle of moisturizer, bobby pins, and in my boldest act yet, a toothbrush. It didn’t feel weird, honestly, and we talked a lot about ingredients and how testing product was a big part of my job, so I stopped worrying about what I was leaving behind.
My biggest fear, though, was my boyfriend pulling a Sex and the City “Big” move and coming to see me in the city with a bag of stuff I left at his apartment.
He never did, thank god, but that may be because things never got that far. After almost three months, we broke up before I could build up to the super serious Clarisonic, or even razor, stages of our relationship.
Do I think my penchant for product had anything to do with the breakup? Not at all, and now more than ever, I believe that every relationship has its own unique path and timing. I don’t think there’s a set of rules on what’s right, wrong, or normal. And I know it’s silly, but I think that goes for leaving your lip gloss at his house, too. We moved fast, and hey, the way I left my stuff there mimicked the relationship pace, whether it was for the best or not.
My advice? If you are sick of your foundation spilling open in your handbag on the way to your boyfriend’s place, save yourself the stress and clean up and just leave it on his dresser. But, you know, maybe don’t leave the expensive stuff. You don’t just leave $150 worth of product at a guy’s apartment if you have no intension of talking to him again.
Splurging on a shade that actually matches your skin-tone and doesn’t make you break out, then having to say goodbye to said bottle along with your BF, is not the kind heartache anyone should be forced deal with.