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Body issues. Still :(

(83 Posts)
FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 12:12:49

Hi all

I have posted about similar things on here before and had some really useful advice/responses. Things are getting better (honestly!) but this week something happened that brought it to the forefront of my mind and there's a hurdle I still can't get past.

A lot of my issues are around feelings of not being 'good enough' and self worth. On paper, I think I look pretty good, I have a number of friends, hobbies and a social life that is as active as I want it to be. I think I'm a nice person; I'm kind and thoughtful, but not a pushover. I try to be considerate, but I'm not a people pleaser. I genuinely care about other people, but I don't do things for others to the detriment of myself. I think I have a fair balance of things in that respect.

My outstanding issues all seem to be centred around how I look. And this is something I just cannot get past.

I was asked out by a man few months ago. We have become good friends; very close in fact. He is a genuinely lovely man, and I don't say that lightly! However, I am happy being single and intend to stay that way for some time (ever, even).

But it isn't strictly my choice. I don't think I'm attractive enough to have a relationship. Or slim enough. Or have an attractive enough body/physique. Now I know that this isn't the be all and end all, and I can see in the world around me that "looks aren't everything". But when it comes to myself, I can't get past it.

The issue is that I know his ex gf and she is, physically, pretty much perfect. Tall, slim, blonde, pretty and has a really lovely figure. I am none of these (the tall and blonde bit don't bother me). I couldn't even contemplate going out with him because I am objectively not as 'good' as his ex. This week, he acknowledged that she "fulfills the stereotype" and I also know that she isn't perfect in other ways. But this isn't really about her.

How can I ever have a relationship with anyone knowing that I am, objectively, not as attractive/good as their ex? And, lets face it, given than I'm nothing special and nearly 40, that's going to be true of everyone I meet (everyone is going to have dated someone who "fulfills the stereotype"). How could I ever be naked in front of someone who has previously had/seen better up close? And sex. How can I have sex with someone knowing that I don't look or feel as good as their ex? I feel that I would be such a compromise. I'm strictly in the "well I'm mid 40s now, realistically, am I going to do any better?" category. But I've never been anything else. And I don't know how I would feel about this man if this weren't an issue for me.

My self esteem is much better now than I think it has ever been and this is making it even harder. Previously, I would have suppressed all the shitty feelings and done it all anyway. Now, I don't want to feel like that, so rather than even try, I am happy and comfortable to be single. But the more I think about it, the more I realise that this is just how it is now. I'm not going to get any 'better'.

I don't even know what I want/need. I know that sexual attraction isn't based on looks alone and I do finally get it that being attractive doesn't guarantee a successful relationship (both thanks to responses on here). But in terms of myself, I don't see how I can get past this. Or whether I'm being silly to even try. Even if I had counselling, she would still be tall, slim and pretty and I would still be, well, not.

It's not helped by the fact that she is a little jealous of our friendship and has tried to sabotage it in little ways. I can't cope with the thought of her looking at me and thinking, "well, at least I've got a better arse/stomach/face/etc than her". It makes me want to walk away from the friendship I have with him, because I can do without the negativity, to be honest.

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 12:24:42

I just feel that I'd need to be 'apologetic' almost, that I'm not 'better'. And I don't see why I should apologise for not being physically good enough. It's not my fault, I didn't make myself like this - I do make the 'best of myself' appearance wise.

I just feel like I need to accept it. And deal with it. My life is not going to look like me feeling shit, feeling insecure, feeling jealous, feeling inadequate anymore. And I currently don't. I feel fine. Except when I think of myself in terms of this sort of thing.

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 12:29:51

In fact, I've cancelled attending a social event that we'd all be at together because I don't feel like I want to deal with it, at the moment. sad

dadwood Sun 02-Nov-14 12:33:38

He likes you as you are! You can remain single if you prefer to. He isn't the only man who will find you attractive btw!

chockbic Sun 02-Nov-14 12:36:37

By realising that no one is perfect, physically or emotionally.

Sometimes you just have to trust others and their judgement.

dadwood Sun 02-Nov-14 12:39:28

I have always had trouble believing it if somebody finds me attractive, but it's their decision, not mine.

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 12:41:41

Thanks dadwood. He said that he finds 'me' attractive and that my body is just what I'm housed in (he wasn't criticising me, just responding to my own criticism of myself).

But it's just that I can't get past the thought that when push comes to shove and I'm standing (or whatever) there nekkid, I'm just not going to look as good, from any angle, as his ex. And he deserves better than that!

dadwood Sun 02-Nov-14 12:48:00

FolkGirl He knows you aren't his ex, and he fancies you.

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 12:51:36

I can cope with someone being 'better' than me in other ways. I can even acknowledge it without jealousy or envy. But this is a real sticking point for me. So, if someone is better at their job than I am, I can acknowledge that; I can acknowledge that someone is a better singer than me, without it affecting my sense of self or feeling resentful; I can compliment someone who is more popular than me without being sycophantic or jealous. But as soon as I meet someone who is pretty than me or has a nicer figure than me, I feel inferior to them. In fact, when I've been in a relationship, I only have to meet a female friend who is better/slimmer/more attractive than me for it to undermine how I feel about the relationship/how secure I feel in their feelings towards me - but I've never shown it outwardly.

This isn't even about this man, specifically. I'm not considering dating him, specifically because of this. It's just that the way I feel about myself is so detrimental. I don't know if I can get past it, or even if I should, because I'm not wrong. It's just probably not very helpful to dwell on it.

I just don't know how to not let it bother me.

Sicaq Sun 02-Nov-14 12:58:18

It sounds hard. I do understand the underlying feeling of wanting tp almost apologise to the world for not being beautiful: I have to shake off that feeling a lot, too. But it should not be stopping you living your life to this extent. Is this something that is getting worse?

MyChildDoesntNeedSleep Sun 02-Nov-14 12:59:05

I don't know what to tell you FG, except that I am tall, slim and I'm told pretty and it hasn't meant that my relationships have been a success. I have my insecurities. I've been dumped plenty of times. grinThere is always going to be someone prettier/slimmer/ younger than you. But you know this. Look at The footballers who cheat with someone less attractive than their partners.

It would be extremely sad to get to the end of your life and realise you wasted it feeling like this. Your attitude should be 'this is me, take it or leave it'

MyChildDoesntNeedSleep Sun 02-Nov-14 13:01:12

Do you have a bit of Body Dysmorphia, do you think? But then you said you thought you were attractive, so maybe not.

Do you read a lot of magazines?

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 13:02:23

dadwood. Yes. But I don't understand it. Or get it. Or can really get my head round it.

He has told me that I tick every box I could have so far and that, more importantly, so far, I haven't ticked any of his "no" boxes. I would do, I know that wink and I think I'd be ok with that. It's just this appearance thing.

I don't know how to find myself attractive if I'm not. I don't know how to think it doesn't matter if she's got a better body than me or a nicer smile than me or prettier hair than me. Because it's not like I dislike myself, particularly. Not anymore, anyway. And that's largely due to advice/responses I've had on here. But I can't accept that I would be good enough for someone else.

And I can't tell myself it doesn't matter if she (or someone else) is slimmer or prettier than me. Because it does matter to me.

I know where some of it is rooted. My exH didn't fancy me or love me. And he cheated on me. He wouldn't have sex with me because he had some funny ideas about sex and women (madonna/whore stuff). And my recent exbf clearly had some stuff going on and I don't think he found me sexually attractive either.

I know what the issue was with my exH, but I must have been attractive enough to my exbf with my clothes on, otherwise, he wouldn't have asked me out in the first place, or continued to go out with me. So it can only be that I'm just not physically attractive. But then I know that already.

So how do other people do it?

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 13:13:02

Sicaq Is it getting worse? I don't know. I don't think it's getting worse. I think it's more that the more confident I feel generally, the more it throws this particular spanner in the works into sharp relief. the more 'definite' this feels because it's the only thing I'm not able to change.

MyChild I don't think I'm attractive. I feel more attractive when I'm single - but that's because I'm generally more confident than I used to be, and I think I'm an attractive person 'inside'. But I don't think I'm attractive enough.

I think I do a good job of disguising my worst points physically, and if my hair and make up are done, I can improve myself as anyone can. But in the cold hard light of day when I've got none of that to 'hide' (literally) behind, I'm not good enough.

And this is evidence that I'm improving in other ways because a few weeks/months ago, I wouldn't have been able to say any of that.

In the cold, hard, naked light of day, I'm unattractive. And, comparatively, would always fare worse.

dadwood Sun 02-Nov-14 13:13:03

FolkGirl Are you afraid of committing your feelings for fear that other women being better than you because of the way they look? I really don't like the idea of better than. It's so bad for your confidence. Some people just fancy you.

If in the future a man leaves you for another woman, it's because the rel you have with him isn't working.

Sorry I am not addressing all the points. Sounds like you have a handle on it all. You have just got to stop thinking in the groove and accept yourself.

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 13:14:01

No, I don't read any magazines. Never have done. I don't watch much TV either.

Sicaq Sun 02-Nov-14 13:17:25

Part of me wants to tell you to stop even considering your looks, but I know myself that that would be hard and an unhelpful response. So ... I am short, built like a 12 year old boy and have uncooperative brown hair in a bob. But blokes do like all types; I remind myself of the time a bloke bypassed my Claudia Schiffer-lookalike friend and chatted me up, because he thought I was 'cute' (bleee).

But still, I know - I wish I could believe I was OK as I am, rather than relying on external validation.

Sicaq Sun 02-Nov-14 13:20:24

That is interesting that you feel your increasing confidence in other aspects had brought your unhappiness with your body to the fore. Especially when you seem to understand on an intellectual level that you are attractive, it's just viscerally feeling so that you struggle with.

Were you compared to female relatives - sisters, cousins - in the past?

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 13:26:20

If in the future a man leaves you for another woman, it's because the rel you have with him isn't working.

You see, I get that too! Well, with my exH, it was definitely that. There were issues from the start, we both know that. My exbf had been out with some beautiful women with very good bodies. It's not really any surprise that he didn't find me physically/sexually attractive. I think he was with me for the exact reason I fear someone being with me; that he thought "I'm late 40s, I can't get those women anymore realistically" and the knowledge that I was sweet and kind and thoughtful and would never betray him. I wasn't exciting or sexy or gorgeous, but I was the sort of woman he could 'settle down' with. But that's not enough. I want to be desireable to someone. And if I'm just not, then that's fine, but it does make me a bit sad to think this is it and I'm never going to be loved or have the sort of relationship I want because I'm not 'attractive'.

Yes. I am afraid of committing my feelings for someone because I believe other women are better than me because of how they look. Even if someone claimed to find me attractive, just knowing that on a scale, I wouldn't be as attractive as their ex/female friends would now be enough for me to end it. In the past, I just tried to push through and tell myself that it didn't matter. But now, I know it does. And I don't want to feel that deep, sinking, sickening feeling when I'm reminded of it.

I also avoid talking (in any capacity) to men who are attractive or younger than me in case they think I fancy them.

Benchmark Sun 02-Nov-14 13:26:31

I used to be like this, except I was in a relationship and I was insanely jealous because of the way I felt about myself. I thought he must fancy every girl that walked past, I couldn't watch films with him in case he fancied the leading lady, I wanted to know about all his exes, and searched for them on Facebook. I used to hate him going out, the list goes on.

I'm now in a new and happy relationship and although I was still like that at the start of this relationship, I gradually turned a corner, because I felt loved and secure. I can laugh with him about my wobbly bits, and his favourite parts of me are the bits I never liked. Our relationship runs far deeper than our appearances and my confidence has grown because of it.

My assessment of my looks hasn't changed but now I just don't really care. You can come out the other side of this obsessive unhealthy pattern of thinking, you really can.

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 13:44:51

Sicaq I don't want to undermine you at all (!), but if that had been me, I would have thought he just didn't think he'd be able to 'get' my friend! And more than that, that's exactly what I have always thought. And then I've often rejected them on that basis. sad I don't really want the sort of person who thinks I'm the best that can do.

I had a very attractive friend 20 years ago who was very different to me, physically. I only dated men who I knew disliked her. But now I know that there was probably an element of them protesting too much...

I avoided female friends until very recently because of it.

Yeah, I've said on here before, I had a really dysfunctional relationship with my mother. We're NC now. She used to tell me that no one would ever love me and I was the sort of woman men settled for, and detailed all the reasons why no one would ever love me. But a lot of it, I've been able to overcome. So she always told me no one would ever love me because I couldn't cook. So I learned to cook. I still don't like cooking for other people, but I have done it. And because I bit my nails, so I stopped biting them. They're not a nice shape naturally, but they're always neat and tidy.

When I was younger, I resembled Rachel Riley figure wise. I was always told that having a small waist made my hips/bum look bigger. That my feet were too small and made the rest of me look bigger. That my wrists and ankles were too thin and made the rest of me look too big. So I wasn't compared unfavourably to anyone, I was just told that I was wrong. I'm now like that, but 2 stone heavier sad

Like one of the raggy dolls; made imperfectly.

Most of the time, I just try to put it to the back of my mind, but that comment about the ex who fulfills the stereotype just really brought it all up again. And he wasn't being a shit. He was telling me that although that is the case, she wasn't right for him personality wise and that was why they ended it.

But even aside from that, I struggle with being 'visible' because of it. I avoid drawing attention to myself in a way that forces people to 'see' me. If that makes sense. Although, that isn't strictly true, because I do perform on stage. It's hard to explain...

dadwood Sun 02-Nov-14 13:48:40

FolkGirl I also avoid talking (in any capacity) to men who are attractive or younger than me in case they think I fancy them.

Oh no! I used to do this with women. I guess I have discovered that conventionally attractive women are not ideals but people and capable of accepting me as a friend if that is what they want to do.

dadwood Sun 02-Nov-14 13:51:02

cont.. Or indeed as a partner!

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 13:55:15

Benchmark That's exactly how I feel! sad I would never tell someone though. And I did watch films with my exbf and just felt shit all the way through. I would never have tried to stop him going out and, in fact, encouraged him to do so. It's almost like I was punishing myself for not being good enough by making myself feel even more disgusting.

Just to clarify. I think Rachel Riley looks stunning and I can see just how attractive her figure is when I look at her. I just wish I'd been able to see it in myself. But now, I'm not attractive because I'm fat with it. And that's not a good look.

But she has a much prettier face than me. And I'm now definitely 'curvy' and a bit wobbly and I know that the only man who'd find me attractive now would just think they couldn't do any better. And that's what I'm struggling with.

FolkGirl Sun 02-Nov-14 13:58:18

dadwood it's good to know I'm not alone, at least... wink <hollow laugh>

Just as a quick aside, this isn't helped by all the men evaluating women on their appearances and stuff in public, either...

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