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My low self esteem + dh's inability to be complimentary = problem (along with lack of affection and no sex!!)

(23 Posts)
Ineedgok Sat 02-Aug-08 14:23:16

Name changing here (let's hope I don't forget to change back like I normally do!)

Sorry this is LONG!

I have been mulling over something which has been making me feel sad about my relationship with dh for a while and we sat down and finally talked about it last night. It was a constructive conversation but I feel like i need MNers help with a couple of things!

This came to a head because we went away on holiday and basically I literally didn't get a single kiss, cuddle, hand held, compliment etc. and I do give him some (although I've given up as I was sick of it being so one way).

As background we have been together about 14 years and have a pre-school aged dc.

We get on very well - we have lots in common, have a laugh about things and don't argue much. We both adore our dd and have fun together.

He is like a best friend and perhaps herein lies the problem.

- he is not a naturally affectionate or complimentary person and admits this and says although he could try to change, it would only last a week or so and he admits he'd fall back into his natural way. He doesn't need physical affection so much or compliments etc. and has enormous self esteem (incredibly without being arrogant).
- I have always had low self esteem about my body (not generally - happy with my face, job, friendships etc!). This got better after a couple of years of us being together but now, after years of dh rarely if ever complimenting me and seemingly not noticing me as a woman, it has taken a turn for the worse again. (it wasn't his fault it was low to start with - too complicated to go into here).

I can't see that he can fancy me, he never acts as such and we haven't had sex for over a year blush now (he does have a low sex drive naturally - he isn't stressed or suffering a condition, just not that into it - never has been hence despite loads of opportunities having slept with a lot less partners than he could have).

- When we talked last night about this I said that the idea of a marriage which is devoid of general affection and sexual contact (and I know the lines are blurred) makes me feel sad and that although everything else is good, I'm not sure that at some stage in the future I will decide that I can't take it anymore. (And also I guess it does increase the risk of the grass seeming greener with someone else at some stage tbh).

I'm only in my mid-thirties and I know I'm not hideously unnattractive and I don't want to feel invisible.

- he said that one of the reasons he thinks this is the way it is is because I act like I want to be invisible, e.g. hiding my body, making negative comments about myself a lot (which is true to an extent).

So it seems, I need to build my self esteem about my body, and be a bit more sexy in order to break this vicious cycle of me not acting sexy/ him seeing me as less sexy etc.

I still don't think he'll be chomping at the bit or very affectionate as he just isn't like that - even if he were married to a supermodel he just wouldn't be (well not after this many years).

How can I believe in myself more despite my flabby tummy, chunky legs, fat bum etc.?

I want to try and sort this out and dh seems to too because a. we have a good relationship otherwise and b. for our dc.

Ineedgok Sat 02-Aug-08 14:47:57

God that really was long - not surprising no one has read it/ replied!

PussinJimmyChoos Sat 02-Aug-08 14:49:48

I read your thread and I had a similar problem...not so much the lack of sex but DH was always complaining my self confidence was low. His mentality was that it doesn't matter what size you are, confidence is what is sexy - and he's right. I've been doing an exercise DVD recently and have toned up a still overweight and have baby pouch tummy, but because I feel happier and fitter, that comes across as confident and sexy - iyswim?

girlnextdoor Sat 02-Aug-08 14:56:21

Try to focus on YOU not his short comings- you should not need anyone else to make you feel good.

Can you update your image- new hair cut, make up, weight loss, new clothes, nice undies? Join in the August Dieters on the Health forum here!

Go to an exercise class? gym??

Make a list of all your good points- not how yu look, but who you are.

Join a class or something maybe to get out a bit more- do something you really like.

Ineedgok Sat 02-Aug-08 15:02:55

Thanks for your replies.
GND I do already do those things though. I have frequent haircuts, I do go out, I do play sport, (although my body clearly isn't perfect), I bought a load of new clothes a while back and he sorted of vaguely said they were nice and that was it.

Puss - there is something to be said in what you are doing for sure. I need to be able to walk tall and feel sexy and I just don't.

I could lose a few pounds but I'm not exactly massive (maybe a size 10/12 and am 5ft 2). I put on some weight when I had a m/c earlier this year and have found it hard to shift.

Maybe there is more to it than just this. Puss, your dh sounds more supportive and positive. Does he give you compliments and make you feel good about yourself?

I just want my dh to find me sexy and he doesn't seem to notice me sad

I just want to be hugged occasionally. Even when I was having the m/c he struggled to hug me. He is a bit of a cold fish.

PussinJimmyChoos Sat 02-Aug-08 15:07:14

My DH is much more complimentary when I'm confident...he's more into curvy women than stick thin ones (which is just as well as I'm 5ft 2" and 12st 5!! Was 10st pre DS but gained 4st during preg and the anti ds that I was on for PND played hell with my weight!) but he likes confidence with it. The way I see it, is that if you don't love yourself, you can't expect anyone else to.

So, the first step is for you to get confident with how you feel - don't look to your DH for affirmation just yet as he obv is not the type to provide it. You can chat on here and we will cheer you on with it all. Then, when you are feeling more confident, you can start to work with your DH to address why he can't pay you compliments etc. He's obviously got a problem with affection if he couldn't be affectionate after m/c. What's his relationship like with his family? That plays a big part I often find!

As for the exercise - try Billy Blanks Tae Bo a treat and his muscles are easy on the eye too... wink

Ineedgok Sat 02-Aug-08 15:14:47

Thanks Puss- will look up the DVD - it's hard finding the time with dc and the exercise I already do (which isn't the best for body shaping but I love it and can't give it up!)

You are right, I have to learn to like my body more. It's sad I feel like this.

And yes, there are issues with dh's ability to be affectionate and he kind of recognises this although he says he can't really change.

He is just very, very rational.

His family never hug or say anything affectionate. His dad isn't alive so I don't know what his parents were like but I suspect they never showed affection in front of the kids at all.

That said his two siblings are pretty affectionate with their partners so it can't be all to do with that, unless they somehow went the other way for whatever reason and became quite affectionate.

Ineedgok Sat 02-Aug-08 15:15:48

It does make me sad as at the time of the m/c and before that when we were having IVF I really just needed a hug. A spontaneous hug without me having to ask for one. And one that, when it came was not wooden and forced. sad.

PussinJimmyChoos Sat 02-Aug-08 15:19:48

Gok - I do it when DS (two) is having his nap. Sometimes I do it when he is in the high chair so I can keep an eye on him or sometimes he wants to join in and prances around the living room doing little punches and kicks - its very cute! Don't give them pasta in tomato sauce if you decide to put him in the high chair to exercise though...<shudders at memory of pasta all over the sofa, the rug and in DS's hair>

As for your DH - it sounds very much like his issue that stems from his family. Would he go to counselling or is he happy being Mr Rational? My DH can be like that sometimes and its hard to take so I do sympathise. The family background seems to have more to do with it than you though so thats a positive thing?

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Sat 02-Aug-08 15:26:23

i have the exact same problem as you wrt compliments. dh never compliments me the nearest i get is "meh, you look alright" and thats only when i ask, i do get a lot of "what the hell is that?" "your not seriously going to leave the house in that are you?" "she always straightens her hair and she has kids, why cant you make more of an effort?" erm she has one child who is five not one pre schooler and a baby and i know for fine fact that she does not do her hair every day its just that he happens to see her when she has.

and he wonders why i dont want sex with him? hmm

i agree with what every one else has said. you need to focus on yourself and make yourself feel better. does he want sex if you initiate it?

girlnextdoor Sat 02-Aug-08 16:45:20

You have to get to the point where you think "I look great" and if you have a man who doesn't appreciate that- and not all men are good at giving compliments- then you have to ask if you want to look for a man who will, or if your bloke is really a decent guy who just doesn't say much.

If you feel good about yourself it doesn't really matter whether other people say soor not does it- unless you feel that he isn't giving you any attention,- irrespective of how you look.

It comes back to your own self-esteem.

Ineedgok Sat 02-Aug-08 18:10:58

You are right GND. I have decided I'm going to work on this feeling good/ sexiness thing and then if I get to that point and DH is STILL not a bit more attentive/ interested I'll have to work out what to do.

Thanks everyone.

Right, now I think I need a 5 step plan to get sexy....what would Gok say??!

PussinJimmyChoos Sat 02-Aug-08 19:58:34

You need to nip to the local Debenhams and get nekkid in the window a la Gok. We will arrange a mnet meet up so we can all boost your self esteem by cooing at your arse while slagging any passers by that feed their kids Greggs and fruit shoots!!


Kally Sat 02-Aug-08 21:57:24

Do you try and make your DH feel as if he is sexy? Do you ever say to him anything to him to compliment and build his confidence with regard to approaching you?

Sometimes you can become like brother and sister, you know, a really good relationship on all fronts, but too close for comfort with regard to sex, you've gone into the grey area of friends but not lovers.

I think this happens to a lot of couples where they don't know where to keep a bit of themselves secretive and mysterious (no separation between freindliness and intimacy)
Generally being affectionate is another thing, it should be there spontaneously really, a need.. but to be able to differentiate between a supporting 'I care about you' hug to a 'lets get it on' hug can often get muddled. especially if you misread each other needs/intentions.

But one is a pre-requisite to the other really, so on and so forth, so perhaps you should force yourself to take little steps at a time.

Confidence about your body is first and foremost. Flabby bellies are not the end of the world.. most real child bearing women have them. Fat booties are feminine and most men like the feel of a soft curvy woman. They don't go looking into things like women do when they inspect themselves. What do you think gives you this low opinion of your appearance, what makes you think a flabby belly is a minus point? Of course you have to work on a positive attitude about yourself. I think it will make all the difference to both of you.

I am 5ft 2 and weigh 72 kilos... A few years ago I went down to 58 kilos due to stress, and believe me although it was nice buying all these little skimpy clothes and things, an honest friend (male) said he much preferred the former me. He laughed and said 'you've got too many corners now'..(I am back up to MY normal weight - what is normal for me.. I have always been 'chunky') SO WHAT!!! I love my body! Love yours and you'll see the difference it makes to everything. Learn to love your femininity and curves, the fact that you have had a baby, it's yours, its sexual, just let it loose and enjoy it for what it is, you'll see.. Good luck

citylover Sat 02-Aug-08 23:16:34

Yes I agree with you Kally.

I am also short and very curvy and I like my body now for the first time in my life and feel confident about it.

Unfortunately it took a DH like the OPs and separating from him to do it. Sorry OP!!

I know that feeling of wanting hugs and affection and being starved of sex. It eats away at you.

LIke you say best to work on yourself, see if it has an effect and then if not work out what to do.

Ineedgok Sat 02-Aug-08 23:33:41

Puss - ROFL at your post - fab idea!!

It does make me laugh though in the programme as no one in that situation, looking through the window with the mike in their hand, is going to say to Gok 'oh well actually she does still have a fat arse' are they!

Ineedgok Sat 02-Aug-08 23:45:40

City and Kally - thank you for excellent posts. This is really lovely to be able to talk about it and get really honest no holds barred views.

Kally- no idea why I feel so badly about myself body wise but lots of reasons why my self esteem took a battering early on in life so maybe it's all mixed up in that.

But girls I bet you are curvy in an hour glass way - I have a big bum, manly legs and not much in the way of boobs! It's not a good mix! I don't feel very feminine and I think for much of my life I surpressed my femininity (e.g. working in a very male environment).

But I am really going to try and make the most of myself and change the way I feel. I will.

This relationship IS worth investing in. And even if for some reason it doesn't work I need to sort this out anyway don't I.

Lovesdogsandcats Sun 03-Aug-08 08:47:14

SheSellsSeashells your dh is an arse.

Come back with some put downs, 'I can go get changed into other clothes, you're stuck with that face'..

Papillon Sun 03-Aug-08 09:08:50

sign him up for "David Shade" newsletters

you work on "acting" like a high self esteem babe

make it your focus, wanting and having great sex and intimacy - manifest it into your life

worked for me!!!

mocca Sun 03-Aug-08 09:18:25

It's a tough one this, my ex was naturally not tactile and it wasn't in his nature to show affection to anyone (let alone me) and I love touching etc. Eventually it was one of the things that drove us apart but we had all sorts of other bigger problems too which you don't seem to have.

I think maybe you have to accept that this is just part of his nature (you said this quite clearly) and that he can't change it and that it really hasn't got anything to do with you! If you get on well in other ways (and you seem to), try to focus on those. Good luck, I know it's hard having been there myself.

Ineedgok Mon 04-Aug-08 12:10:47

An update - we decided to set some time aside on Sunday evenings from now on to be more sensual (!) and ensure we couldn't just let that side of things drop. I was a bit worried about it and we said that we'd just give each other a bit of a massage this first time so there was no pressure.....let's just say we got a bit carried away wink and I have a smile on my face of the naughty sort for the first time in a very long time!!

Papillon Tue 05-Aug-08 07:21:54

Nice one

I bought a book on sensual massage last year ... sure there is loads of info online too on good moves it up during the day on sunday with afew affectionate fleeting touches, meaningful looks and coy smiles... Makes him know without saying that you are looking forwards to "later"

Kally Tue 05-Aug-08 10:37:47

SO glad for you Ineedgok. Its like riding a bike, you never forget. Its just about the best remedy for everything (even my Mum, bless her, used to say that).
By the way, you said about being proportionally curvy, I have huge boobs which with age have - well... dropped I guess! But there again, breast fed 3 kids and they look ok in a push up etc.. but I always used to feel very matronly (so theres a down side to having bigguns)(plus frumpy bras for most of the time). I used to have my hangups.
Funny thing is, something that really made me assess myself differently: I posed for an art class, nude. They wanted a model that wasn't perfect 'a woman type womans body'.. so I went for it. I don't know why I forced myself to do this, it was to 'see if I could' I think. The minute I dropped that wrap and walked across the floor to pose I felt these demons FLY out of me. The feeling is indescribable. I must admit I nearly pooped myself beforehand, but the release after you accomplish it is amazing. Plus the students were all buzzing and chatting freely about 'that thigh line is beautiful' and 'the curve of her back' and that shadow under her breast is amazing'... ha ha ha (big shadow)..I also had to move about and change poses, so they saw it ALL. But bodies, all shapes and sizes have their charisma and magic. That is true of us all and those that love us, think just that about us. Keep working on yourself.

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