October 9, 2019 at 2:07 am #316865
I’m a man in a long term relationship (20 yrs) with a woman. On several occasions she’s said things about my appearance that were hurtful. I don’t feel great about how I look and so it can be a sore spot. The comments weren’t teasing and they weren’t made in anger, but seemed like genuine opinions. For example, I think I look a like a celebrity, and she agrees, and one day when he was performing on TV she sort of mused about how much he’s lost his looks. Another time a couple of her friends said they thought she’d be with someone different from me, having only seen a photo of me. I asked for clarification and she said they thought she’d be with someone better looking. I’m not sure why she started that conversation.
There have been 4 or 5 other comments that she’s made I believe absent mindedly that expressed some dissatisfaction with my looks. Some have passed without comment from me, but I called her out on the two I mentioned above and a few others, and she didn’t address her intent. She seemed to feel that I was upset and she said she would become more careful about filtering her thoughts, which she has done and which I appreciate. As we talked though she avoided or deflected my real concern that she found me unattractive.
We had one more general conversation about this where I really looked for either an explanation or some solid reassurance, but I got neither. I guess I stopped short of asking her to tell me she finds me attractive, although she had to know that would have helped. She saw these comments as unkind but somehow not meaningful. More like using a harsh tone or harsher words than you might when trying to make a point. She missed or purposely avoided addressing my real concern.
I don’t know what to do now. I hate bringing this up again at least in part because I’ve always felt unattractive and who needs to talk about that. And having addressed several of the comments and had the one general discussion, I don’t know what good talking more will do, other than make me feel and look even less lovely.
I’d love some thoughts I haven’t yet considered.October 9, 2019 at 6:09 am #316885
If I may ask you another question before I give my thoughts…. if you don’t feel she is attracted to you physically, do you know what attracts her to you emotionally? Given that she’s with you and has stayed with you for 20 years and shows really no signs of wanting to leave (based on what you’ve said), she must really love you and many of your qualities.October 9, 2019 at 7:20 am #316895
The two of you agreed that you look like a certain celebrity, and “when he was performing on TV she sort of mused about how much he’s lost his looks”.
If she liked the way the celebrity looked before he lost his looks, and if he lost his looks by gaining significant weight, no longer exercising and losing muscle tone, not wearing clothes as nice as before, not keeping his hair neat and so forth-
– and same is true for you, gaining significant weight and/ or losing muscle tone and so forth- then you may consider losing weight, exercising daily, getting new clothes and so forth.
anitaOctober 9, 2019 at 7:45 am #316905
Thanks for responding Valora. Regarding your question, she’s not much for giving feedback. She has said, a few times long ago, that she admires my thoughtfulness and my passion for things I believe in. I believe that she believes I’m good for her emotionally, supporting her honestly and challenging her when that’s needed. That’s something I’ve mostly inferred from our interactions, and not something she says directly.
Another piece to this puzzle is that our physical relationship is nowhere as intense as it once was. We’re both 60 now, so I should expect some changes, and 20 years bring changes for people who start out at 25. But I doubt that we’d have sex at all if it was left to her. She’s responsive once we start, but she frequently has other priorities and having to negotiate some time for sex that she’s not much interested in until 15 minutes after we start, with a woman who doesn’t seem much attracted to me is kind of a downer.
And I know there are lots of explanations for her lessened interest in sex, plausible ones, that have little or nothing to do with me. Her age and the direct impact that has on her physiology, her age related aches and pains, her thoughts about her aging body, our time together. I get all of that. But we started out quite hot. Whatever drew her to me, I had no doubt that she wanted me. Most of the comments I’m talking about started about 10 years in. Her interest in sex waned about the same time.
We’ve talked about sex at length. It’s exhausting, and thoroughly unsexy for both of us, but whatever the reasons, wanting someone to want you when they don’t, or when they can’t spontaneously show you they do, is a real boner killer for me and I’m sure not a great way to seduce her.
But I don’t want to over emphasize the sex part of this. I’m 62. I’m not as driven as I once was, and I know how to take care of myself. Our sex life is relevant to this discussion more because it leaves me feeling like I’m not enough, as do her comments. Absent the comments, I think I could see our sex life as sort of naturally ebbing. And really, at this point that’s how I think of it. But I’m still feeling like what I thought was true about us, and about her feelings for me, wasn’t. That her feelings changed, or the basis for her attraction to me wasn’t as strong as it might have been, and maybe that hastened this along.
I feel like I’m writing a story and the only way to characterize this couple’s once intense love for each other is that it faded, which is sad enough, but also that it never was quite what one of them believed. I find that a sad story if it ended there, but it doesn’t. And I don’t really know how to write it from here.October 9, 2019 at 8:02 am #316909
Thanks for responding, Anita. I look like the “after” version of the celebrity. I’m 62 and he’s a few years older than me, so in the 20 years we’ve known each other the celebrity has always been that older version of himself. And I was 40 when she met me, so I’ve always been a somewhat older version of myself. Our resemblance really only happened when we were both older, and honestly, past our primes. We, the celebrity and I, are both tall and thin, and bald. I didn’t have much hair when we met and less in the picture a couple of her new friends saw. My being bald was the trait her friends sort of objected to. Being bald and having a similar physique is what makes resemble the celebrity.October 9, 2019 at 8:04 am #316911
I’m quite a bit younger than you guys and haven’t experienced such a long-term relationship, but I kind of feel like the loss of physical attraction is somewhat common as people age, as unfortunate as that is, so it’s possible she might not find you as physically attractive as she once did, especially if you’ve changed a lot in appearance over the last 20 years. She also might be experiencing a drop in libido in general and may have said those things because she doesn’t have much interest in sex, so they were said as a way to repel you from her physically rather than attract you. In that case, it might really not have anything to do with you at all.
My advice in this case might not be very helpful probably because I’m not sure what can be done to change it (unless you have let go of yourself, in which case, doing Anita’s suggestions above of working out, dressing better, etc., would probably work wonders), but it might be helpful at least for your emotional state to fully accept that this is a natural flow for many relationships as people get older and many tend to lose physical attractiveness. It says absolutely nothing about your worth or value as a person or to her as she is still with you and seems as if she wants to be with you, so even though she doesn’t vocalize it, I’m sure she finds a lot of value in having a relationship with you, and it might help you to feel better emotionally if you focus on that instead, at least in the way of self-esteem.
Actually, if your self-esteem has been low, that can reduce attractiveness as well, so it might be helpful to rebuild confidence by shifting your own focus to all of your other wonderful attributes and what you have to offer, which is actually worlds more important to women than physical attractiveness, believe it or not. Her attraction toward you is far more likely to come back (because that is something that can come and go, too) if you are showing real confidence…. unless it’s a low libido thing for her, in which case her lack of attraction is stemming from her own issues.October 9, 2019 at 9:28 am #316931
You’re right about my confidence being shaken, Valora. I’m here talking to people on the internet because I feel like I can’t talk to her about how I really feel, because that may kill any attraction she may still have for me. That is so frustrating.
Strictly talking about feelings now and not claiming those feelings are facts, but I feel like how she regarded me lessened. Maybe it changed along a predictable course, but it felt like it diminished, and I felt like I lost something important. That shook my confidence, in myself and maybe in us, or in the hope I had that we’d be different than most couples. Seems like a pretty childish hope now. And when I felt a loss, or several losses, I talked about it, which turns out to have been bad form. I should have stoically accepted the loss, and maybe she would have seen that as attractive, or at least not as unattractive as me asking for what I needed. Somewhere someone told me that being vulnerable was a good thing. Maybe I don’t do vulnerable right.
So here I am, feeling a loss and feeling helpless to do anything about it, other than accept it with equanimity. Obviously I’m not there yet.October 9, 2019 at 9:30 am #316935
People frequently select their partners through evaluating themselves in terms of attractiveness. Your partner, 20 years ago, probably felt that your attractiveness was on a par with hers. Your insecurities about your attractiveness, which you have always had, are now being projected onto your partner.
You have taken issue with some of her comments and she has agreed to refrain from making them in the future. The thing that is really bothering you is that she hasn’t actually said that she finds you attractive. This is grossly unfair considering that you don’t even find yourself attractive. Even if she told you how attractive you are, I doubt that you’d believe it because you’ve been giving yourself the opposite messages for so long.
I suggest that what is really going on here is that your sex life has dwindled and your brain has converted this into “she doesn’t fancy me any more – it’s because I’m unattractive”. I think this lack of passion in the bedroom is affecting you far more than you care to admit.
I’ve re-read your posts and only once did you use the word “love” and that was to say how it was faded and how her feelings must have changed or not been there strongly enough in the first place. Strangely enough, love is usually a very high priority for a woman. I wonder if, during all your lengthy, exhausting discussions, you thought to discuss what role love plays in a healthy, loving sex life.
Baldness is said to be a symbol of virility and do you really think you should be taking a comment made about a celebrity so seriously? You are not going to be able to change your looks without expensive surgery so there is nothing you can do but accept yourself as you are.
PeggyOctober 9, 2019 at 10:20 am #316949
Wow, she must think her mate value is way above yours for her to make so many off handed comments. After twenty years she is that secure that you would never leave, eh?
Buy some new expensive clothes and shoes. Read GQ. Read Men’s Health. Wear Aviator sunglasses. Go to the gym. Train for a run a marathon. Eat Keto. Put cologne on every morning. Make that New Years Resolution TODAY.
She will think that you’ve met somebody. Of course, swear up and down that you haven’t, but keep the reason for your sudden upgrade vague. Mention every other month or so that another person at the gym wondered if you were that celebrity (or another!!) from afar or from the back. “Which person?” “Oh some girl in my spin class.”
I PROMISE you that you will suddenly (!!) be deemed attractive.
My favorite love anecdote is when a woman was asked if her partner was attractive she paused, thought about it, and said, “I don’t know!!”
October 9, 2019 at 10:28 am #316955
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by Inky.
Practical advice, for her and for you:
1. Dim lights are an excellent age-reduction technique, especially when not fully dressed.
2. When a person’s physique is not that attractive (for as long as it is not terribly unattractive), focus on what feels good. When a person is stimulated a certain way, and finds pleasure in it, it really doesn’t matter who does the stimulating.
3. No more talking about it with her- both of you clean and smelling good, a glass of wine or favorite drink to start, appropriate music, dim lights… well, that is all I have in mind. You take it from there.
anitaOctober 9, 2019 at 12:13 pm #316967
One thing my partner and I have in common is our doubts about our looks. She verbalizes more insecurity than I do. I’m attracted to her, though, and I tell her and show her often. Maybe I’m sad if she doesn’t reciprocate because she can’t honestly. Maybe I’m angry if she could, but doesn’t see the need.
I do love her, and I believe she loves me. I think, like a lot of men, I make too linear a connection between love and sex. And probably between sex and physical attraction. So then there’s a linear connection, in my mind anyway, between love and physical attraction. Like she doesn’t really love me if she’s not physically attracted to me. And if I doubt her attraction, I doubt her love. I hadn’t really put that together until just now.
And regarding my looks, I’m not repulsive looking. Few people are, and those who are almost always could make immediate changes that would help. I’m in that vast middle area under the bell curve, if such a thing exists for beauty. I’m not noticed. At 62 I don’t hope that random women will notice me, but I went mostly unnoticed at 18 or 25 or 30. I think when I say I’m insecure about my looks, what I mean is that I feel invisible, and I so want to be seen. And maybe if the woman who loves me doesn’t see me anymore, or perhaps never did see me as I hoped to be seen, then I have to let go of the hope that anyone ever will. And I don’t believe that words spring from my mind accidentally. When I write “seen” I suspect I mean the word more broadly than as it pertains to seeing or attractiveness. Being noticed too. Important? Worthy? Real?
This is cathartic, in a really miserable fucking way.October 9, 2019 at 12:45 pm #316973
If I understand correctly, you don’t want to be noticed (any more) for being a nice guy or a good guy, for your character. You want to be noticed for your body, for looking hot, or sexy. You want to be desired for your body- to be appreciated and desired for your flesh, so to speak.
Very different from what it is for a lot of women- having been desired for their flesh so often, throughout youth, being wanted for sexual purposes alone, so often and wanting desperately to be seen for their minds and hearts.
A woman with that kind of experience may not understand and even reject the idea of wanting a man for his body, it is like doing to another what she hated being done to herself.
anitaOctober 9, 2019 at 1:08 pm #316977
What I was talking about in my post was not to not talk about your feelings, because being able to talk about those things without judgment is important… what I was saying was for you to do what you need to do to GENUINELY feel more confident, to not depend on her views for you to feel confidence. If you felt genuinely confident, you wouldn’t really have so much of a need to talk to her about it because you’d feel confident without her validation, and then that would give off a confident energy, which is attractive by nature. That’s an energy you can’t fake, though. You truly have to feel confident/attractive for yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. And attractiveness, especially for women, is not all about physical characteristics… it’s everything else, too. The whole package. So improve what things you can (that bother you specifically, not anyone else) and accept what you can’t improve and build your confidence from there.
I still say it’s possible either she has a low libido or maybe was feeling unattractive herself, so she was trying to bring you down with her. That’s what is generally going on, I think, when people nitpick others.October 9, 2019 at 1:21 pm #316981
I think when I say I’m insecure about my looks, what I mean is that I feel invisible, and I so want to be seen. And maybe if the woman who loves me doesn’t see me anymore, or perhaps never did see me as I hoped to be seen, then I have to let go of the hope that anyone ever will. And I don’t believe that words spring from my mind accidentally. When I write “seen” I suspect I mean the word more broadly than as it pertains to seeing or attractiveness. Being noticed too. Important? Worthy? Real?
Have you ever heard of love languages? It seems, from what you’ve been saying in your posts, that yours is words. You tell your partner that she is attractive and you so wish that she would tell you that she finds you attractive, because that’s how you would know and feel it.
The thing is with attractiveness from strangers or even friends, you wouldn’t know whether they noticed you unless they came up and told you that they did, right? There could have been plenty of people who noticed you throughout your life and thought you were handsome, but if your mind was focused on feeling invisible, you wouldn’t notice them noticing you unless they told you directly, which people don’t often do (unless you’re a woman in a bar filled with drunk men. haha). But I think women as a whole often don’t go up to male strangers or even male friends and say they find them attractive. So you probably don’t even realize how many people have “seen” you over the years because people haven’t came up to you and told you, so as far as your mind was concerned, it just didn’t happen because it didn’t have solid proof in words. Does that make sense?
Check out the love languages when you get a minute and see if the words one resonates with you. It might also be a way for you to tell your partner what you need from her. Even if she works on verbalizing any of the wonderful qualities that makes her want to be in a relationship with you, I think that would surely help you to feel better.October 10, 2019 at 4:37 am #317075
So, you want to be noticed. You want to be valued. You want to be acknowledged in your true human form.
I’ve counted five people who have replied to you several times as a fellow human being reaching out for help and who wants a sip of the milk of human kindness. You can safely say that you have been acknowledged, that the issue you have is being treated seriously (you’ve been given worth) and there are lots of ways to get yourself noticed.
Friends They might not need me, but they might, I’ll let my head be just in sight, A smile as small as mine might be, Precisely their necessity.
The problem with long term relationships is that people become familiar with each other, they stop ‘looking’ at each other in the same way, they take each other for granted. It’s never the other person that has to change, it’s always ourselves.
If you really want the relationship with your wife to be more dynamic, then you need to be the dynamo.