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I need constant attention and validation from men - it's ruining my life

(66 Posts)
Unhappy123 Sun 30-Sep-12 14:11:32

I have been with DH 8 years married 2. I love him and we have a very comfortable life together. I sometimes feel like we are held up as some sort of pinnacle of a perfect couple by friends and family who are unmarried or divorced etc.

I've finally realised lately that I'm a complete attention whore. I've no idea why I've only just realised this I suppose I have been in denial or something until now.

Throughout my whole adult life (say 15+ I am now nearly 30) I have sought attention from men. I crave it and am unhappy unless there is someone flirting outrageously with me or paying me some sort of romantic or sexual attention. I find that I can have absolutely no interest in a man and then find out he 'thinks I'm pretty' or something and bam - I'm all coy smiles and late night drinks - its utterly pathetic.

The main problem in all of this mess is of course my DH. It is completely disrespectful to him. My behaviour has escalated over the years and I'm seriously concerned that unless I change my ways I am going to end up sleeping with someone. I seem to be able to compartmentalise my home life to the extent that when I'm with a bloke I have no respect for my lovely, kind DH. I am so lucky to have him but I'm going to end up ruining my life.

I seem to fall from one crush to the next and it exhausting and completely pathetic. I want to focus that romantic attention onto my DH but somehow I can't or won't.

Does anyone have any practical advice for me? Trust me I am trying to get a grip and stop being such a selfish cow sad I'm preoccupied with thoughts of leaving my DH so he can find someone better.

The wives and partners of these men has not escaped my attention either. I realise I am disrespectful to them as well and I have seen the hurt and anguish on these boards.

mcmooncup Sun 30-Sep-12 14:14:37

Are you very attractive?

And what was your parent's relationship like?

Get yourself into.therapy, stat. and stop going out without your H.

Unhappy123 Sun 30-Sep-12 14:22:35

Hi mooncup

I think I was a bit of an ugly duckling and am quite pretty at the moment. As if I wasn't detestable enough in my OP admitting that I think I'm pretty is probably the nail in the coffin hmm

My parents have a great relationship. Married 35 years, happy and close. Without wanting to out myself one of my parents is a well-known figure and author on the psychology of relationships. This serves to make me feel even worse as I know they would be appalled at me if they knew the truth.

BurlingtonBertieFromBow Sun 30-Sep-12 14:25:51

What actually happens with these other guys? Is it just intense flirtation/friendship stuff?

I have a friend who is a bit like you sound. She is very nice, and I'm sure you are too, but she absolutely loves male attention and directs a lot of her activities towards attracting it. It hasn't actually caused her any major problems, but it is very transparent to everyone else what she is up to and sometimes it makes her look a bit, well, pathetic. Her boyfriend is very tolerant and she wouldn't actually do anything, but I don't think I would be very happy if I was him. It's fine being a flirt - all my past boyfriends have been flirts, and I'm a bit of a flirt sometimes. It doesn't need to be a problem, but it can be if it gets too much.

Maybe some counselling would help if you think it's going to ruin your life. They will probably encourage you to think about your childhood/adolescence and see if there are any reasons for it there.

But tbh if you look at society and the media, women are only depicted as important or powerful if they command male attention so it's not really surprising that a lot of women think it's very important.

HalfSpamHalfBrisket Sun 30-Sep-12 14:30:45

I second blackcurrants' suggestions. Get a good therapist who will be able to help you unpick the reasons behind your behaviour. I see a nice Jungian analyst, it's very satisfying having a safe space to be listened to. It's not cheap (I pay £45/hour) but it's worth every penny.

AnastasiaSteele Sun 30-Sep-12 14:34:04

Yes yes to therapy! And start finding other sources of approval.

Unhappy123 Sun 30-Sep-12 14:34:36

I think the problem is the escalation. I'm disgusted with myself but I've gone from being a flirt to emotional affairs and I have kissed someone as well. I think that's probably what has pushed me to realising my flaws need addressed before I escalate further.

I would like to speak to a therapist or counsellor but not sure how I could do that without DH finding out.

Thanks for the replies. I feel better jut getting it out and seeing it in black and white. I agree that I am not going to go out without DH, that is asking for trouble really.

mcmooncup Sun 30-Sep-12 14:39:04

I agree with BurlingtonBertie - and I think attractive women get the need even more because their identity can totally rely on their level of attractiveness and the 'power' they can get from this and they don't develop their character in other ways.

Do you have a good career? Do you do anything satisfying - that doesn't revolve around just 'socialising'?

I'd imagine living with an expert on relationships could also put pressure on you to get the perfect relationship - I mean, it could actually be that your current P is not the one for you......hence the flirting......but you feel like you should be able to make it work.

Who knows really? I think therapy would help too.

BurlingtonBertieFromBow Sun 30-Sep-12 14:42:36

Yes it does sound like something is 'missing' and you are trying to fill the void with flirty excitement. Could be in your relationship or, more likely, your career, friendships, interests, relationships with family etc.

The other problem with being obsessed by male attention is that underneath you are worried that there may be a time when you don't attract that attention any more, due to age or whatever. So it creates feelings of insecurity in you.

Why would you need to keep the therapy secret from your DH? Just tell him you have some things you want to talk through in a neutral space, to a qualified 3rd party.

Conflugenglugen Sun 30-Sep-12 14:48:16

Can you not tell your DH that you are considering therapy? You don't have to go into specifics; just say that at this point in your life, you are wanting to get to know and understand yourself better -- which is entirely the truth.

Conflugenglugen Sun 30-Sep-12 14:48:45

x-post SeventhEverything. Indeed.

Unhappy123 Sun 30-Sep-12 14:51:52

I do have a good career (I'm a lawyer) but I probably am lacking friends and external interests. I will have a think about what I can do about that.

I'm not sure how DH would react to me saying I wanted to have therapy alone but he has had some previously for anxiety so perhaps I could broach it with him.

DH is a wonderful person and a good husband but I think he is the one person who doesn't really make me feel particularly attractive. I'm not blaming him in any way for my behaviour though.

Thanks to all - I was afraid of a flaming and appreciate your suggestions.

Unhappy do work hard at finding a good therapist - you may not 'click' with the first one, but keep searching. You need to work out why you look for approval this way (you might be surprised to discover that you don't approve of yourself, for example, even if you immediately think "nonsense, I have healthy self-esteem!") - and you need to work out ways of stopping.

I also knew someone a bit like you. Not only was she (although very nice!) a bit pathetic, she made some men so uncomfortable that they don't want to be around her. I remember a boyfriend of mine at the time used to be horrified when she'd flirt with him, and he said "look, can we not go out when X is there anymore? She's just ... creeping me out." We're not close any more (moved away) but there was something desperate and immature and unhappy about her attention-seeking, even as she'd delight/gloat in the fact that she could always get the attention of 'other women's men' - the rest of us thought, well, why would you want to? What's wrong with your man? What's wrong with you?

Just not going out without your H there is a bit like being a dry drunk . It's not enough to stop the behaviour that's causing the immediate problem - you need to work through the underlying stuff too, or you'll always be unhappy (and making others unhappy, too).

I hope you get the help you need, you really do deserve to be happy, to like yourself, and to treat yourself and others in your life well.

Unhappy123 Sun 30-Sep-12 14:53:46

Therapy is definitely sounding appealing - I will think about how to tell DH.

Unhappy123 Sun 30-Sep-12 14:59:16

Thanks blackcurrants and everyone.

I think I probably do embarrass myself, I've never really thought of it like that before. blush

qo Sun 30-Sep-12 15:01:25

I started a thread very similar to this once Unhappy, here

I've realised as well, after reading your OP that I've behaved like this whilst in relationships too. I'm having counseling at the moment, although we haven't got down to my relationship issues yet,

Mumsyblouse Sun 30-Sep-12 15:04:29

Why do you need to give your husband an explanation beyond 'I've been planning on seeing a therapist, I could just use a space to talk about life, everything'?

Why make a meal of it? Are you subconsciously hoping he'll ask why, fgs don't tell anything about anything, just get thee to a therapist!

Also, if you work in a high pressure professional environment, having the odd very friendly flirt is not that unusual, as you say, it's that you are taking it further and it's all become secret and exciting that needs nipping in the bud.

Getting attention is very addictive, but I'm pretty sure you can stop this if you want, the usual guide for behaviour that I find works is to imagine my husband is on the other side of the room, so laughing at a guy's jokes, or slightly flirting in a room full of people would be fine, but doing anything secretive/to start a relationship is an absolute no no. It doesn't mean you can never talk with a guy again, I also don't agree that never going out without your husband is a good idea, you should not need a chaperone to put up good boundaries (and what happens if your chaperone isn't there one night?)

You are playing a dangerous game, but you can get out of it. Good luck!

TakingBackMonday Sun 30-Sep-12 15:08:45

OP you could be me. I lost the only man I've ever loved for this reason. Be careful, I am watching this with interest.

I think given the issue, a female therapist would be a wise plan. The BACP's website has a search function.

oh yes, Seventh is right. Absolutely a female therapist, absolutely.

Adversecamber Sun 30-Sep-12 15:23:09

My Mum was very like you , she never admitted it to herself or anyone but it was obvious.

She has been married 4 times and every time one of her 5 daughters started to hit puberty and become a woman she went off us radically as we were now her rivals. She always had to have the full attention of any man, regardless of his age.

I'm glad you have realised because with help you can save yourself from yourself. My Mum was always on a course of self destrction.

Good luck

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 30-Sep-12 15:25:11

I think the problem is most likely your relationship with your husband. You describe him as 'lovely' and 'kind' which are adjectives I'd use about my granny. The flirting behaviour suggests you need more than kindness and loveliness from someone in order to feel valued - you need excitement and 'sparkle' - and maybe that, in turn, means you basically picked the wrong bloke.

Heleninahandcart Sun 30-Sep-12 15:53:12

DH is a wonderful person and a good husband but I think he is the one person who doesn't really make me feel particularly attractive

Was it always like this? If this has got worse over the years then maybe this is why you are escalating. I think we all want to feel attractive to our partners. Regardless of this, therapy would be a good idea to work out why do you feel such a desperate need for this validation in the first place. You have awareness and know you need help so time to just do it.

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