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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.

NoniceNochivalryNewNorm1 Fri 14-Mar-14 03:18:58

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

NoniceNochivalryNewNorm1 Fri 14-Mar-14 03:18:52

try reading this, it will help explain what you may be experiencing (btw it's not your fault that you are from America)

Broken318 Sat 17-Aug-13 22:31:15

Hi so glad I found this thread. I hate myself because I am a lot like you. I have 2 kids and my constant need for attention has finally ruined my marriage once and for all. One of my episodes actually resulted in a 2 year affair. I feel terrible for hurting my husband, and this will devastate my kids. I finally realised I need help and will be seeing a therapist in a few weeks. Seems I had to hit bottom and hurt the people I love the most before doing something about this. You still have a chance to fix this. Good luck xx

Salbertina Wed 10-Oct-12 17:08:04

I think you have v black & white thinking about yourself"I'm awful, I'm selfish" yet I deserve the v best...therapy should help this. It comes across as self-hatred and self-justifying at one and the same time.
You have awareness though which us a real start.

I think you should consider moving out temporarily- its hard to think straight living under same roof and you have no kids yet to keep you there. Take the opportunity while you can!

madas Wed 10-Oct-12 16:37:48

Do you think your husband may have an idea what you are like, and maybe he is scared/insecure.

Good luck smile

Unhappy123 Wed 10-Oct-12 14:22:08


Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to respond to me with your various viewpoints.

I agree that my behaviour is terrible - that is why I am trying to change it. I could just carry on, I could just pack my bags and leave without a word, but I'm trying to fix things as best I can.

I have realised I don't like myself very much, and that perhaps if I liked myself more I wouldn't crave the validation from others.

My DH does deserve someone who behaves better than I do. But I deserve someone who meets my needs. I have told him twice in the last six months that our marriage is not meeting my basic needs to feel loved, desired, valued etc and that I want to leave. Both times he has acted as though I have said nothing and just carried on, leaving me to 'get over it' and keep going. I wouldn't say that I have been cruel to him by being honest about how I feel about our marriage - I would expect the same from him.

To be honest, when I left therapy last night I felt more positive than I have in months, about everything including my husband and our possible future together. I think I need to keep further discussion to the counselling room, and so while I am incredibly grateful for every response, I'm going to hide this thread and namechange back to my usual nn.

Slightly Less Unhappy123 thanks

joblot Wed 10-Oct-12 13:12:00

Agree with blackurrants eloquent post. Admitting to gross behavior takes guts and hopefully is the start of the changes she needs to make

Speaking purely for myself:
I can only address the person 'in front' of me.
I can't help this woman's husband, he's not posting. I imagine if he did, he would get responses very much like the ones you outline above - but some would probably say "your wife sounds very insecure, is she in therapy?" and some would definitely say LTB.

I don't like or admire her behaviour but - crucially - nor does she. She's been advised in all kinds of ways but no one has said "there there, never mind, you don't need to change your behaviour, you're fine and a good person." She's being encouraged in her quest to change her ways and stop hurting other people. She's being encouraged to, basically, fix herself.

How is saying "You are evil and should be ashamed of yourself" helping anyone - the OP, her husband, any of them? It's that I think it's a cruel terrible thing to say and that women are always right and must always been patted on the hand during these threads - it's that this OP came asking for help and the castigation-approach is not constructive.

aurynne Wed 10-Oct-12 11:24:18

Sorry, but this post is one of the examples of the most hypocritical side of MN. It is so obvious that it would be funny if it was not so pathetic.

"My DH enjoys flirting with other women. Even when he doesn't find them attractive, as soon as they pay him some attention he starts flirting with them in an obvious and outrageous manner... all cocky smiles and drinks with them... Recently I found out he has started having an emotional affair with one of these women and I feel absolutely devastated.

On top of that, he keeps messing with my head. 6 months ago he told me he did not know if he loved me, and he thought the best thing was to leave. I was gutted and tried to behave like a good DW... things seemed to go on and I started getting hopeful again... but yesterday, out of the blue, he told me again that he doesn't think this works and he wants to leave me. I feel my heart is breaking, I love him so much and I don't understand why he does this to me. I feel like I'm going crazy... why is he doing this to me? If he doesn't love me, why doesn't he just leave me? Why does he feel the need to flirt like that? Why does he keep torturing me telling me he is going to leave me? Help!"

If I posted something like this here, do you want to bet what kind of responses this post would get? No need to bet... you women would be telling this woman her DH is a twunt, a bastard, a selfish idiot who does not deserve her, a f*cking wanker who just wants to get his ego massaged and deserves the worst. You would recommend her to leave the bastard and look for another, better man who does not enjoy tormenting her and flirting with other women.

But no, it is a woman posting it. And as it is a woman, she deserves compassion, and she is "not a bad person", she just needs to address her self-esteem problems, she deserves all the love and all the good things in the world. And her husband should be understanding. No, of course she is not being cruel with him. After all, he is a man. Women are a superior race, and a different rule is applied with us.

Well good on you if this is the way you see the world. I would have been there telling the hypothetical woman that her "D"H was a wanker if he was doing these things. And surprisingly enough, my opinion does not change when it is the woman doing it. I also believe the OP is behaving like a wanker and her DH deserves someone better.

"Not a bad person?"... How exactly do you define a bad person then? Whoever treats a person who loves them with utter contempt and cruelty, as long as it is not a woman?

Sorry again, but this thread disgusts me.

I am sorry for your DH, OP. He is married to a completely self-absorbed, vacuous woman.

IfImHonest Wed 10-Oct-12 10:52:31


I've come to this a little late, but I really needed to post, because you sounded so like me and I wanted to share the benefit of my experiences.

About 8 years ago, I was you (except I wasn't married). I was with a lovely, kind man, and we really were the perfect couple in everyone's eyes. After many years of being an ugly duckling I was also blossoming into an attractive woman. And then suddenly, after years of being a 'nice' person I also started to behave like you. My sex life had dwindled, and I started to crave attention from other men and behave really appallingly. And one night I was woken in the night by my DP who'd just got so fed up about my behaviour that he'd gone searching through my bag and found a card from the latest of my EAs.

I knew of course then that I had to end it. That it was so unfair on this lovely man, and that he didn't deserve any of this. That I clearly didn't love him enough. So I moved out. It was truly awful. No one could believe that I was leaving such a good man, he totally freaked out and was devastated. Awful. Of course, what I should have done was some therapy, but I didn't and instead I just got involved with someone else and trundled along for 6 months until I realised that I was really alone without DP and that I missed his safety and warmth and comfort.

So ... I rang him and took him out and persuaded him that he was the love of my life and that I deeply regretted it and for some reason, he agreed to get back together. Later I proposed, we got married and we have 2 children now. But of course... 5 years into the marriage, the same thing has bloody happened. I was unhappy again, and the attention seeking thing happened. And this time it's a million times more serious of course because we have wholly innocent children.

This time round, I've done some intense counselling and realised that I have a deep rooted need for security and safety - to the extent that I clearly got back together with someone I didn't love enough. The attention seeking for me was linked to the fact that I needed to get the love/passion/connection which I don't have with DH from somewhere else.

and let me tell you this, this process has been UTTERLY AWFUL for everyone; me and DH (children blissfully unaware). My lovely DH has had to put up with a doubting wife for years now and it's all because I didn't have the courage or nouse to get some proper help. Ironically, I don't think that I am a bad person who deliberately sought to hurt anyone, I'm just someone really damaged by my past. I wish to goodness I'd realised this before I made the wrong choices in my life.

I have no idea what will happen now, but DH and I will probably split and my children will necessarily suffer. it's very very hard to live with.

I know that's too long a post. But I wanted to say, in the nicest possible way, that you owe it to yourself and your DH and your (as yet unconceived!) children to get this right now. I made decisions out of fear and I have ended up making everyone's life a mess. Please try to be honest with yourself now. Get help. Don't make decisions because of what other people think.

it's scary how I identified with you. I'm even a lawyer too! i wish you all the love and success in the world.

quietlysuggests Wed 10-Oct-12 10:36:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Wed 10-Oct-12 10:18:06

Christ no, don't have a baby fix your issues

Shagmundfreud Wed 10-Oct-12 06:55:56

OP - I was like you until I had children. When I had my first child I felt all the need for outside attention. and approval disappear. I think I needed to feel important and special to someone. Being a mother gave me that in spades.

SaraBellumHertz Wed 10-Oct-12 02:44:01

The OP isn't being cruel to her husband. She feels as she does and has spoken to him about it with a view to resolving their relationship issues. WTF is the alternative? Leave at the first sign of discontent or pretend everything is fine and dandy thus prohibiting her DH from having any input into a resolution.

OP I think it is brave of you to challenge your feelings- I hope you work things out with or without your DH

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Wed 10-Oct-12 00:07:15

You sound rather cruel to your husband. Good luck with your therapy and all that, but wouldn't it be best to leave your husband so he can find someone who appreciates him ? Twice you have told him in 6 months it "isn't working" yet you stay.

"Move out and sort your act out. If I still want you in 6/12 months time, perhaps I will consider it but just maybe I won't." That is what I would say to you if I were your H.

Heleninahandcart Tue 09-Oct-12 23:51:25

Good on you OP for following through on the therapy. Even better you have found a therapist you think will be helpful to you.

However, it does sound as if your DH is on the back foot. You have told him you want to leave him for the second time in six months. You say he was unhappy with all that. It is hardly surprising he has gone a bit 'cool and distant', you say you do not know what is now going but it is you who has set the agenda here. Unbeknown to your DH you have taken steps to avoid your work crush but you have also switched the drama and attention back to you at home. Was it a co-incidence you told him around the time of your birthday when you had 24 hrs of DH having to be being lovely to you? I wish you good luck in finding out where you want to be, you have the therapist and MN so it's all in your favour smile

Unhappy123 Tue 09-Oct-12 22:56:45

Hi all

Thanks for the replies. Tonight went well, for a first appointment. It is incredibly refreshing to talk to someone who is not judging you. For the first time in ages, I didn't feel like a really terrible person.

I'm hoping over the weeks we can dig down deep and I can figure some stuff out. I feel like I know certain things about myself, but I don't understand them - that is what I hope to be able to do. Only then can I change and develop.

Hopefully I'll be able to understand my marriage better at the end of this process as well. In the meantime, DH and I are muddling through and processing what has happened so far.

Thanks MNers. I genuinely feel like the rest of my life has the potential to be different now. I'm not sure where I'd be if I hadn't had some great advice on here. smile

Chocoholiday Tue 09-Oct-12 20:23:07

I've had truckloads of therapy and can't recommend it highly enough. I wonder if it might make sense for you to see a man, to really get to grips with why it is so important to you that men find you attractive. Sounds like you may have some very deep anxieties and insecurities about self worth and attractiveness. I did psychoanalytical psychotherapy and thought it was amazing. A good organisation will interview you to find a good therapist match. If you're in London try Arbours.

sparklingsky Tue 09-Oct-12 20:21:15

I hope it went well this evening. I think you are rather brave. Recognising how we limit ourselves is really half the battle.
At about your age I realized that lots of opportunities and attention came way that may have been a result of things additional to my abilities. wink I decided that any physical attractiveness was a diminishing asset. And, that I should invest my energies into something with greater longevity. I basically stopped flirting and expecting attention.

I feel this helped to innoculate me to becoming older. I think I would've really become miserable otherwise. I don't think I wouldve understood why things didn't come as easily.

I guess I share this with you because you've made a wonderful discovery - that you can create a different you. And whatever motivated you last month doesn't have to drive your life from now on.

aurynne Tue 09-Oct-12 20:16:05

I think you should just leave your poor DH... The second time you tell him you don't love him and that you should separate... and then you just leave it at that? That is emotional abuse of the worst kind. Do you really care for your DH at all? You tell him you don't think you should be together, then you tell him you have an emotional affair... and leave him to suffer and question himself, probably hate himself and spend months wondering what he has done wrong. If you were a man, people here would tell you in no uncertain terms the kind of person that you are.

I believe that the best thing you could do it take your things, leave your DH immediately so he can find a better person he deserves and can be happy with, and then go and work on your self-esteem. You have a lot to mature and to grow as a person before you can commit to any other person.

Your DH deserves better.

good luck to you, OP - I hope that therapy can help you, and it sounds like you've taken some really productive measures to help yourself, too. Good for you. Do eat - you deserve feeding, you deserve looking after. Take care of yourself and let us know good ways we can help, too. Even if it's just a bit of hand-holding.

FML Tue 09-Oct-12 19:39:38

You aren't alone OP. Hope it goes well at your appointment. I am very interested to find out how it went.

Unhappy123 Tue 09-Oct-12 17:59:43

Hi all

I just wanted to give an update on this if anyone is interested.

Firstly I have my first appointment with a therapist tonight. I'm not sure where to start with her but I'll see how it goes! DH is ok with it but obviously a bit worried as he has said a few times 'what if she tells you to leave me' and 'therapists always blame the husband.' it is part tongue in cheek but I think it is what he is worried about.

Secondly, I broke down last week and told DH that I didn't think we should be together and that I wanted to move out. I told him that I didn't think if we met now we would get married and that there is no spark between us. He was pretty unhappy about all of the above but said he would try to be more considerate etc. he was then absolutely lovely to me for 24 hours (it was my birthday). After that, he has been cool and distant. I'm not sure where things stand. It's the second time in 6 months I have told him that I feel that way (I said the same in April)

Thirdly, I have admitted to myself that my ongoing 'crush' at work is out of control (on both sides) and is utterly damaging. If I have any hope of rescuing my marriage I need to sort that out pronto. I have asked to change team (we currently sit next to each other) and that is happening in a fortnight. I crave the attention And flattery he gives me but it is false and damaging and I know that deep down.

I have bought something for myself to help with a hobby of mine I've been neglecting. I'm hoping that will give me something meaningful and relaxing to focus on.

My coping mechanism at the moment appears to be not eating, and running a lot, which is a bad combination. I can't stop the running but I am going to force myself to eat. I think it's a self punishment thing at the moment. Hoping the therapy will help.

Anyway thanks if you have read this far, and thanks to all who gave advice and support previously. I appreciate it greatly.

I think it may be that a) you have outgrown your H and b) you are not cut out for monogamy. This is not a 'bad' thing at all, long term couplehood suits some people but doesn't suit others.

How much effort is he putting into the relationship BTW? A 'nice, decent' man can just mean 'One who isn't violent or constantly critical, doesn't drink or gamble' and can still describe a man who doesn't pay his partner much attention, positive or negative.

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