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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.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 30-Sep-12 16:02:41

The OP has been with her DH from age 22. She has, by her own admission, gone from an ugly duckling to a nice-looking woman. She will also have matured a lot in that time and her tastes will have changed. Maybe she didn't get attention from others in the early days, maybe she got more attention from her DH in the past... either way it sounds like she picked a life-partner for one set of perfectly admirable qualities before time and experience changed her criteria. Doesn't help, I wouldn't have thought, that DH has anxiety problems which presumably make him a fairly reserved, shy sort of character.

In short, I think you should not be so frightened to discover that your DH is not the man for you any more OP. You should not treat it as some terrible failing or pyschological problem on your part. Ask yourself... if you met your DH for the first time this evening, would you be drawn to him the way you are with these other people? Would he respond to your flirting? Sometimes relationships simply run out of steam for no real reason other than everyone's grown in different directions

lolaflores Sun 30-Sep-12 16:10:15

The word that jumped out at me was "attention whore"! It went off like a firewwork in that sentence. It made me wonder about inappropriate relationships perhaps when you were younger...just a stab in the dark.
inappropriate acting out is neurotic. leads to cycles as someone said either here or elsewhere
I read the other thread and it was amazing. I urge you to read it and then book a session with a therapist.
Love yourself a little. you are not a whore, nor a little girl. a woman. a nice one too as you are thoughtful enough to consider your husbands feelings. there are those who could give less of a shit

SirBoobAlot Sun 30-Sep-12 16:13:28

Stop thinking of yourself negatively - pathetic and attention whore are horrible terms. You have noticed a negative quality in yourself, and now you can work on it.

Some therapy might be helpful - cognitive analytical therapy is very good for finding thought patterns and altering them.

CailinDana Sun 30-Sep-12 16:16:21

How was your childhood/early adolescence OP? I ask because inappropriate flirting and a self-destructive need for attention is very very common among people who have been abused or who had negative early sexual experiences. I'm not saying that necessarily is the case with you, but your need for validation from men does come from somewhere. Counselling is a good idea.

Out of interest, why does your DH make you feel unattractive? Is it something he does, or something that comes from you?

Unhappy123 Sun 30-Sep-12 16:17:43

More great replies thank you.

Cogito I am utterly terrified in case DH is no longer the man for me. You have hit the nail on the head. I feel like ending our marriage would be a huge disappointment to everyone and I would feel like a complete failure.

I will find a (female!) therapist to help me work through everything and then decide how to move forward.

DO you have sex with your H, OP? If he's older than you, shy, anxious and 'doesn't make you feel attractive' I wonder if it's frustration that's driving your behaviour, at least in part.
Yet another vote for some counselling/therapy here, as well. If any repeated behaviour is making you unhappy yet you are finding it hard to stop, you need outside assistance. Best of luck.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 30-Sep-12 16:22:31

"I want to focus that romantic attention onto my DH but somehow I can't or won't. "

You don't fancy your DH is all that means. You don't see him as particularly sexual. I wonder if there's a big age-gap between you or if you were first drawn to your DH for something non-physicial like his intellect.

Viviennemary Sun 30-Sep-12 16:23:35

When I read these I felt I wasn't agreeing with the majority. Then I saw a post that said the OP had picked the wrong man. I think I agree with this. If you are always on the look out to flirt with somebody else, then you might be better off single and certainly not in a committed relationship. Why would counselling help this.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 30-Sep-12 16:29:53

It's not a failure to realise you've made a mistake. It's perfectly possible to love & respect someone and yet them not be the right person for you. And have you considered the body-clock aspect? You don't mention DCs and the urge to reproduce can make people do some weird shit. Happened to me age 34....

FloraFox Sun 30-Sep-12 16:34:46

OP, you sound like someone i know at your age but with more self-awareness. I agree with all the others who've suggested therapy. I strongly recommend getting to the bottom of this before you have kids or get much older. With the person i know, her behaviour escalated after she had kids and started to get a bit older. It seemed like she was desperate for the attention she once had. She has left a trail of destruction in her wake and now sees her (very sad and confused) DCs a few times a year. She is not a bad person and she loves her kids and probably still loves her XH but there is compulsive element to her behaviour. It's not as simple as getting a grip. Could you talk to your parent? That's to think about, not to answer as it might out you.

badtime Sun 30-Sep-12 16:35:05

I don't think it necessarily has anything to do with your feelings for your husband.

If you behave this way to get attention, you are always going to find new 'conquests' more interesting. Your husband is in the bag, so he is less interesting to the part of you that craves attention.

I used to be a bit like you describe, OP. I hated it and felt like a pathetic bitch. In the end, I tried to build a very female-focused social life, so I would develop different priorities. I think it worked for me.

It sounds a bit silly, but have you tried something like taking up a women's team sport, to give you a pastime other than flirting? Nobody to flirt with at netball or hockey or roller derby (unless you go over to the other team, so to speak).

Also, therapy.

Unhappy123 Sun 30-Sep-12 16:40:12

Our sex life is not great tbh and I have often thought about asking him to go to therapy about it. It has dwindled over time but I thought that was natural in a long term relationship.

We have always been keen to have kids and started to TTC but lately I realised it was the wrong time and asked that we put it on hold. I couldn't have children with him if there is any doubt over our future.

My childhood was practically idyllic - I've never wanted for anything and am close to my parents who are great. I can't think of a reason other than the 'ugly duckling' theory.

I have a lot of food for thought and appreciate every response!

TakingBackMonday Sun 30-Sep-12 16:48:30

Oh op I feel for you. I had a messed up childhood, lost a parent, perfect relationship with my father, but I'm just awful, I hate myself, I feel like I need kids and dogs but I need to be a better person first. Life is abhorrent.

Zorra Sun 30-Sep-12 16:48:52

Just wanted to agree with Cogito. I was with exDP from 17 years old; hit 24 and became a total obsessive flirt, leading to a few kisses and fumblings. After a year I started to think that I was trying to fill the lack of spark with DP through 'harmless' flirting, but it wasn't harmless for either of us sad We split up in the end, and I wish I had your self awareness to work through my feelings and issues properly at the time rather than heading off into more self destruct... You sound lovely, and I wish you well x

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 30-Sep-12 16:49:36

" It has dwindled over time but I thought that was natural in a long term relationship. "

Reduced frequency isn't uncommon in long term relationships but you have to take that in conjunction with what you say about not feeling attractive to your DH and not being able 'focus romantic attention' i.e. not fancying him. When there's an absence of intimacy and affection in a marriage - especially one that doesn't have the excuse of small children taking up time and energy - that is not a good sign

blueshoes Sun 30-Sep-12 17:07:20

You are too young for a midlife crisis. So perhaps the driver for the escalation in flirtatious behaviour could be your subconsciously looking for the father of your children <very poor cod psychology on my part, sorry>?

Some women's sex drives go up in their thirties (not for me, but I read it somewhere).

If you want dcs or more sex, you have got to make a decision whether your DH is the forever one for you. Glad you have not had dcs yet, otherwise my advice would have been quite different.

You have got to refocus your attention back onto your DH to give the relationship a fair chance. Has he noticed your flirting? I assume it is not just at work?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

OP its so good to hear you are feeling better.
From your posts, you sound like you are under a great deal of selfimposed pressure to be perfect.
The "perfect" parents and childhood, the famous father who is successful and seen to be wise, your own marriage that you feel others look up to?, the running and not eating, getting prettier as time goes by.....
All the above list is coming from your own head.
I dont envy anyones marriage, and I cant inagine that anyone is wasting energy envying yours.
And if anyone does hold up your parents as an example, can you imagine the stress of being married to someone who's area of expertise is being perfect at relationships?
I am saying I suppose that you are in a therapy/ deeper meaning/ theories of causation/ childhood issues way of thinking bacause of your background.
But as others have pointed out,
If you were not so emotionally ready to self-examine, if you did not already speak the language of analysis, you would just be pointing out that:
your DH does not make you feel attractive, sexy, romantic
you do not think you love him and have been almost leaving him for 7 months,
you know its not right to have children with him,
you feel trapped,
you are improving your self image by starving yourself
you feel alone, apart from an inappropriate relationship at work.

So good luck with therapy.
But sometimes hooves means horses.

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

OP,

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.

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.

aurynne
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.

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

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

Hi

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

Good luck smile

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.

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!

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

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)

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

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

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