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DP, weight, sex, the future and language barriers... sums it up really! May I have advice please?

(12 Posts)
LostInTranslati0n Tue 21-Jun-11 22:44:25

I've thought long and hard before posting (and namechanged because of the personal nature of my post) as there are other people in much, much worse situations but I don't have anyone I can talk to and I'd really like some MN advice please. I don't want to drip-feed so it's a bit lengthy.

DP & I have been living together since Feb 2011 and dating since Nov 2009. He is my first live-in boyfriend and first BF for five years. The same is true in reverse, except he hadn't dated for at least ten years and is forty, so has spent all of his adult life living with friends or by himself - I try really really hard to take this into account as, as difficult as I find living romantically with someone (just the niggles), he must find it worse. There is a sixteen year age gap, he earns over the average wage and is from a high income background, whilst I am still a student and from a low income background - we have had some hurdles to overcome here, i.e. what we both find acceptable spending levels/how much we contribute to household finances.

At the moment I am not earning as I moved 200+ miles to live with him and start my course. Without his contribution to the rent (he pays slightly more than half, we split bills theoretically evenly in a joint account, but in practice he pays a lot more for food as he buys expensive things I wouldn't) I would not have started the course as I don't have enough savings to support myself. I go home whenever the wages at my old work will outweigh the train fare. This is a source of resentment. I could get a job but DSis is lending me the money to complete the course (vocational, hopefully leading to a job - I am actively looking for one now in that field) on the condition I'd work for the best mark and not money. I don't have any of 'my' friends up here and don't have that many friends anyway. His/our friends live close by.

DP is from another European country and speaks English well but, as has become apparent when we have fights/strained discussions over important relationship things, not fluently. I think he gets so stressed he can't take in what I'm saying. I don't speak his language well - basic conversation level.

What it boils down to is that I'm insecure and when I've tried to tell him I'm insecure he acts like I'm mad to think so (and maybe I am). We are very physically affectionate but don't have sex as much as we used to, maybe once or twice a fortnight. I haven't broached this with him as I don't want one of two possible answers: a) that he doesn't find me attractive any more now I've put on some weight (which I am trying to lose, but not as devotedly as he would like) or b) that we are just two totally different ages for sex drives and he just doesn't have the hormones I do. If b is the case then I don't want to make him feel like he has to sleep with me. OTOH I was in tears (privately) earlier at the thought he finds me blimp-like and I really don't want to relapse into my old eating disorder (have had two relapses in five years).

I also don't know how to talk about the future with him. We moved in together after a painful row in which he didn't understand how I could be unsure about whether he wanted us to do so (he had said nothing on the subject and gave non-committal grunts to questions... I felt like a silly little infatuated girl by asking).

What I am trying to say is that I would really appreciate some advice on how to broach the sex issue (I am hopelessly shy at talking candidly about these things with him, although getting better) and how to deal with it mentally if the issue is my weight please. I would also like any advice from people with DPs/DHs who are in their thirties or forties about how he might be seeing things. He really, really hates talking - for example, he's being made redundant at the end of next month and refuses to discuss this at all. He talks about vague ideas but (as has become apparent over the past six months) these ideas are just what pops into his head to shut me up. I just want to help him and go through this together with him but don't know how. I love him very much and he has made my life so much better in so many ways. I really want to make this work.

branstonsandcheese Tue 21-Jun-11 22:52:48


A few years back I dated a Norwegian (I'm english), who had amazing, fluent English - you wouldn't guess he was Scandiwegian. But when we started our relationship and some fairly minor issues arose, my goodness, there was a massive communication issue to do with nuance and emotion and I ended up wondering if he had aspergers!

He also didn't seem that fussed about sex and in the end I went loopy and we broke up.

So unless you are dating the same man (and maybe if you are! He'd be coming on 40 too!), don't let him shut down conversations by saying you're mad to be insecure. Say "I still feel that way, can we discuss it".

Also, GIANT GIANT CONCERN here - "as devotedly as he would like" - has he said that he thinks you should be working harder to lose the weight? If so then please please be careful, your priority should be your health and if you have relapsed in the past, a partner who guilts you about weight is not what you need at all for your mental or physical health.

If you're inferring the 'he would like' then my advice goes back to talking, even if he's unwilling. If he stays unwilling then it's not because of you or your size, I absolutely promise. And it's not because of the language thing either, it's because he's not good enough for you.

pickgo Tue 21-Jun-11 22:53:48

Do you want to have sex more often then?
If so, I don't think you need to 'broach' the subject in any particular way, just say that that's what you would like.
If gaining weight is a problem to him do you think that's a bit superficial? Would you be less interested in sex with him if he gained weight?
He sounds pretty uncommunicative apart from the language problems. TBH I think that would concern me more in a relationship.

eurochick Tue 21-Jun-11 22:55:06

I don't think sex once a week or so for people in their 30s/40s with busy jobs/lives outside work is that unusual. But the question is whether it is enough for you.

MooncupGoddess Tue 21-Jun-11 23:07:55

Hmm. Saying vague things to shut you up and generally refusing to communicate is obviously bad news. Do you think he uses the age gap and his earning power to assert superiority over you? What are the good things about the relationship?

LostInTranslati0n Tue 21-Jun-11 23:14:22

Thank you for all your replies.

branston Not the same guy (or country) but the similarities made me smile.

Honestly I would like more sex and I am going a little loopy. I either stay up far too late (he's a night owl) in the hope we'll go to bed at the same time and have sex (90% of the time nothing happens, even when I try to initiate things) or I go to bed early and sort myself out. I think I have a very high sex drive anyway (currently dampened by contraception) and, as I am at the moment, would see twice a week as a compromise.

Re: weight. I am lazy and non-exercising and he is an exercise freak (and his culture is much more health-orientated than the UK). I knew this when I started dating him. All my previous weight loss has been food orientated and I know I need to exercise. He doesn't tell me outright, unless asked, whether he thinks I am overweight. I daren't ask him if he finds it ugly but I think (given his healthy outlook) he must do. He remains silent when a positive response is required (i.e. you look great!), IYSWIM? I also think he may have spoken to a close female friend of his as about six months ago she started gently pressurising me to go to the gym/exercise with her when I know she normally goes alone.

He is uncommunicative but I decided several months ago that, if I could draw the major things out of him (like moving in together), then I could compromise with it, especially as I'm very chatty at home. I think the problem is the lack of verbal and physical communication - I'm good a reading people but I really can't read him. I have genuinely no idea what goes on in his head and have told him so.

Branston, I've just reread your last sentence, thank you for being so reassuring smile

LostInTranslati0n Tue 21-Jun-11 23:21:17

Mooncup Good things (cue sappy smile smile ): the sex, when it happens, is freakin' amazing (as it is the topic of conversation atm); he is very generous with his time and money, but not in a way to hold it over me - my MP3 was held together with sellotape and for my first Christmas present he bought me an ipod. I totally freaked out (he bought it a month into our relationship) and read him the independent woman/feminist riot act but he was so confused - in his head me not having something meant he should get it for me and get the best one possible.

For my birthday last year he took me (surprise trip) to the location of my favourite childhood books in Switzerland and did all the driving, including a 70 mile detour to visit Interlaken. He makes me laugh so much; one of my favourite smells is the back of his neck; he's an amazing cook; he's great with children; he mucks around; he deals with me nicely when I'm being a princess... the list goes on. He also gets on great with my family.

When I was revising in May for my exams and I'd left it to the last minute he had a bit of a gripe and then did (without being asked... I didn't even fully realise he'd done it as I was so stuck into my books) all the cooking and cleaning for a fortnight, listened to me memorise all my notes, brought me endless cups of tea and even did two loads of laundry (laundry is completely alien to him).

He is totally wonderful, aside from this whole communication thing, which is just becoming a bit big to ignore.

LostInTranslati0n Tue 21-Jun-11 23:28:00

Oh, sorry for the third post in a row, but I should clarify: the reason I am so hurt about the weight is that for my height I am only half a stone overweight and I am only a stone heavier than when we met. I know it's not great but it's not the end of the world either (although I'd love to fit my tight jeans again!) and he is carrying toned middle age spread, which actually I quite like so his distaste seems out of proportion to my weight.

pickgo Tue 21-Jun-11 23:45:22

Lack of serious communication (not taking you seriously?) plus emphasis on your appearance (even though you sound lovely), plus his age and the cultural difference makes me think perhaps he was attracted to you as a bit of a trophy gf. Does that seem at all a possibility?

QueeferSutherland Wed 22-Jun-11 00:00:34

Is weight really an issue for him? The fact you had an eating disorder suggests it is yours, and you are again making weight loss the answer to your problems.

That sounds quite harsh, what I mean is maybe you are projecting a bit? I have no experience of older chaps, but maybe this frequency is usual for middle aged men.

The lack of communication would bother me whatever the language. If he isn't engaging, that's a problem.

garlicnutter Wed 22-Jun-11 01:06:25

I'm very concerned about his attitude to your body. I also think he's making insufficient effort to communicate meaningfully - making stuff up to keep you quiet? Disrespectful. Sex once or twice a fortnight is fairly usual, and it's quite normal for frequency to drop like a stone after you begin living together. However ...

... I suspect the glue that binds this relationship together is sex. Perhaps you're both trying not to face this fact, hence his 'blaming' your weight and your blaming his language. It could be best to discuss the real issue (how much each of you is really enjoying living together) and be kind to one another. What do you think?

LostInTranslati0n Wed 22-Jun-11 10:43:34

Oooh, I had a long reply and the laptop lost it (probably for the best).

In a nutshell: Queefer is right, I think I am upset about the weight and making more out of his refusal to reassure me it's okay. Last night he emphatically said nothing would ever stop him caring for or wanting me.

Declaration came after he came to bed and got harumphy about me having my laptop in bed at midnight when I said I was tired. Decided to bite the bullet and tell him why - he thought I was genuinely tired when I went to bed early, so we've sorted that one out... clearly I'm not very good at enticing men! grin

I don't think we're just about sex, it's just to me an important part of the relationship (not as important as physical affection or consideration/generosity of spirit towards each other - we have those and it was just the lack of sex [and comms] that was bothering me). I think, from his relief last night, it was also bothering him.

Communication will remain an issue. I think he has family problems (his mother sounds like a real piece of work... I don't think it would be stretching it to say emotionally aggressive, if not abusive and heavily into emotional blackmail) so this may impact on what he is used to sharing with people. I will wait until we visit his family in July (first time for me) and then try and get a better understanding of how to approach him. The big things I am concerned about are a) his job, b) does he ever intend on getting married (as a vague ideal, not specifically to me... happy to wait for several years but I don't want to wait and find it's never coming), c) does he ever want children. I'm still not sure if I do or not but I wanted (if so) to adopt - he had a violent 'no!' reaction when I asked him about his opinions of it (following a newspaper ad) and so that is something we have to discuss at some point in the future.

Thank you for all your replies and bolstering me so I could get this happy outcome smile You have all reassured me that it's fine just to ask outright and I think I was making things far too complicated and projecting my own insecurities onto him. He's a happy soul (when he's not been talking to his mother!) and I love spending time with him, hopefully for a long time to come smile

PS - I told him I'd posted anonymously on MN. He's now paranoid (in a good way) about what else I've been saying... grin I think he's happy I did so.

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