Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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I'm an insecure fool and am bothered by the most innocent of stimuli.

Right now I'm trying to accept and love my boyfriend's attraction to other women. I know it has nothing to do with me and that this is my ego talking, making everything about me. I am losing my mind because I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND that this whole issue is mine and yet I can't help it when my heart feels a dart. It's so stupid: I logically understand that I'm being a sissy asshat and yet...goddamnit, it hurts! And it hurts because I have body issues - it's all MY crazy.

Tell me anything. Please.

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    Anything.

    Man, I *hate* this. I have no advice. Only sympathy. This is one of those mindloops that I get where the freakin' frackin' hamster (in my brain) just won't get off the wheel!

    reply to Maggie
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    Hmmm ... what exactly do you mean by "his attraction to other women"? Are there a couple of actresses that he finds particularly engaging, in an I-also-admire-their-looks sort of way? Or is that every time you and he pass an attractive woman in the supermarket, his eyes pop out of his head, and he drools uncontrollably while spraining his neck trying to get a better look?

    I guess what I'm saying is that once we have a sense of what you're reacting *to*, it'll be easier to determine if you're over-reacting.

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    First, I agree with Kal that it's hard to give advice without really understanding the situation.

    But, I'm going to anyway.

    Stop fighting your feelings. Someone much smarter than me once said "Suffering is resistance to what is."

    Rather than beating yourself up for being insecure or having body issues, just accept those things about yourself. Acknowledge how you feel; talk to yourself about it the way you'd talk to a friend who was feeling the same way.

    Y'know, we all have our crazies. We just do. The key to taming them is to call them out into the light. You get crazy when he appreciates other women, and ...

    You have to take that next step, because *that's* where the pain comes from. You don't care that he appreciates other women. You're afraid he compares you to them unfavorably. You're afraid that he'll cheat with one of them, or leave you for one of them.

    We trust in direct proportion to how much we can stand to lose, and you have forgotten that you can handle whatever happens next.

    Right?

    Don't beat yourself up for the insecurity, love. Reassure yourself as far as the fears because the truth is that even if the worst happens and he does leave you -- which is both unlikely and not within your control -- you will survive. So, there's really nothing to be afraid of. <3


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    Maggie wrote: Anything. Man, I *hate* this. I have no advice. Only sympathy. This is one of those mindloops that I get where the freakin' frackin' hamster (in my brain) just won't get off the wheel!

    Right? I liken it to worrying a tooth to death (which I also used to do). I can't ever just let it be.

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    Kal wrote: Hmmm ... what exactly do you mean by "his attraction to other women"? Are there a couple of actresses that he finds particularly engaging, in an I-also-admire-their-looks sort of way? Or is that every time you and he pass an attractive woman in the supermarket, his eyes pop out of his head, and he drools uncontrollably while spraining his neck trying to get a better look? I guess what I'm saying is that once we have a sense of what you're reacting *to*, it'll be easier to determine if you're over-reacting.

    I mean just that "his natural attraction to other women." He hasn't done anything wrong, at least not that I can see logically.

    I notice his attraction (it's basically just a turn of the head) to other girls at work -- and there are many pretty ladies at work. I wear a hideous uniform and the office girls get to wear pretty clothes so it makes sense. Sometimes I'll catch him staring VERY intently at the television when a woman he's attracted to comes on, or there are tits on the screen, and again, I understand that this is natural and that it has nothing to do with me whatsoever, but there's this stupid voice in my head that says, "when did he ever look at you that way?"

    So my feller isn't on trial here. I am. This is all my problem, because it is perfectly natural to be attracted to beautiful women, no matter how you encounter them.

    reply to Luciferia
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    Robynne wrote: First, I agree with Kal that it's hard to give advice without really understanding the situation. But, I'm going to anyway. Stop fighting your feelings. Someone much smarter than me once said "Suffering is resistance to what is." Rather than beating yourself up for being insecure or having body issues, just accept those things about yourself. Acknowledge how you feel; talk to yourself about it the way you'd talk to a friend who was feeling the same way. Y'know, we all have our crazies. We just do. The key to taming them is to call them out into the light. You get crazy when he appreciates other women, and ... You have to take that next step, because *that's* where the pain comes from. You don't care that he appreciates other women. You're afraid he compares you to them unfavorably. You're afraid that he'll cheat with one of them, or leave you for one of them. We trust in direct proportion to how much we can stand to lose, and you have forgotten that you can handle whatever happens next. Right? Don't beat yourself up for the insecurity, love. Reassure yourself as far as the fears because the truth is that even if the worst happens and he does leave you -- which is both unlikely and not within your control -- you will survive. So, there's really nothing to be afraid of. <3

    Or worse...I'm afraid that he doesn't really like me at all and I'm just something convenient that came along, not anything that he'd work to keep.

    Boom. :(

    reply to Luciferia
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    I totally understand this. Every woman gets annoyed by this and thinks about it. Just keep reminding yourself that he is SO lucky to be with you, and is going out with you over all the other ladies out there!

    reply to Barbara
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    Luciferia wrote: I mean just that "his natural attraction to other women." He hasn't done anything wrong, at least not that I can see logically. I notice his attraction (it's basically just a turn of the head) to other girls at work -- and there are many pretty ladies at work. I wear a hideous uniform and the office girls get to wear pretty clothes so it makes sense. Sometimes I'll catch him staring VERY intently at the television when a woman he's attracted to comes on, or there are tits on the screen, and again, I understand that this is natural and that it has nothing to do with me whatsoever, but there's this stupid voice in my head that says, "when did he ever look at you that way?" So my feller isn't on trial here. I am. This is all my problem, because it is perfectly natural to be attracted to beautiful women, no matter how you encounter them.

    Okay, now I'm seeing the situation. I was just wanting to make sure that he wasn't constantly ogling other women, or making comments that compared you to Lara Croft, or some such.

    And he isn't. Good.

    Right then. Now, onto the meat of your question...

    Some of your insecurity comes from being an aggressive, forthright instigator-type. (And from everything I know about you, that's exactly who you are!) If that seems contradictory, let me explain.

    If you're charging ahead in a relationship, instigating dates, defining the relationship and otherwise setting the pace, that's terrific on one hand. But on the other hand, when you stop for a moment of reflection, sometimes you can find yourself wondering if your partner is as fully committed to things as you are. After all, YOU'RE the one who's instigating dates, defining the relationship and otherwise setting the pace...

    To be clear, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being an instigator. After all, it's who you are, and it's unquestionably a huge strength of yours. But as is true of any character trait, being an instigator has a downside. The downside in this case is that you WILL sometimes wonder if other people are as into your passions as you are.

    So occasionally you ease up a little and let someone else take the lead. (Because sometimes it's healthy to get out of your comfort zone a bit.) But -- you also try to work on recognizing that some people aren't instigator-types, and they will express their passion in different ways from you. It doesn't mean they aren't passionate ... it just means they don't necessarily express it in a dramatic way.

    So ... is this guy willing to work to keep you? If he's got a brain, yes. Just be sure you're looking for the right signs -- the "work" he puts in to keep you will be represented by actions, not words, and by quiet, rock-solid reliability, not drama. If you're not getting *those* things ... then it's time to worry.

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    R
    It's a natural instinct for a woman to try and fend off the competition, same way it is for a man. The way you go about this is important, bitching at him and appearing insecure is the wrong way to go about it. Doing something cute or sexy to draw his attention back to you is hot. Recognize that this may be your problem but also see if this is your gut trying to tell you something.

    The other point about your fear of being a girlfriend of convenience is valid, due to the way you started dating and your earlier posts regarding him never taking you on a date. (Don't know if that was ever resolved.) Only you can determine if he really makes an effort or if you are just his most convenient option.

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    Luciferia wrote: Or worse...I'm afraid that he doesn't really like me at all and I'm just something convenient that came along, not anything that he'd work to keep. Boom. :(

    Well, I don't think it's quite that "either/or".

    You may have been convenient in the sense that you instigated things. But, that doesn't mean he doesn't also like you.

    What worries me is this, though :"when did he ever look at you that way?"

    Does he actually look at you that way? Does he seek you out for companionship as well as sex? Or does he go about his life and leave all of the approaching up to you?

    In other words, does he treat you like a girlfriend or like a roommate who shows up in his bed with no effort on his part?

    If he treats you like a girlfriend, you've got to ignore that voice in your head. If he doesn't, you've got some serious thinking to do.


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    Kal wrote: Okay, now I'm seeing the situation. I was just wanting to make sure that he wasn't constantly ogling other women, or making comments that compared you to Lara Croft, or some such. And he isn't. Good. Right then. Now, onto the meat of your question... Some of your insecurity comes from being an aggressive, forthright instigator-type. (And from everything I know about you, that's exactly who you are!) If that seems contradictory, let me explain. If you're charging ahead in a relationship, instigating dates, defining the relationship and otherwise setting the pace, that's terrific on one hand. But on the other hand, when you stop for a moment of reflection, sometimes you can find yourself wondering if your partner is as fully committed to things as you are. After all, YOU'RE the one who's instigating dates, defining the relationship and otherwise setting the pace... To be clear, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being an instigator. After all, it's who you are, and it's unquestionably a huge strength of yours. But as is true of any character trait, being an instigator has a downside. The downside in this case is that you WILL sometimes wonder if other people are as into your passions as you are. So occasionally you ease up a little and let someone else take the lead. (Because sometimes it's healthy to get out of your comfort zone a bit.) But -- you also try to work on recognizing that some people aren't instigator-types, and they will express their passion in different ways from you. It doesn't mean they aren't passionate ... it just means they don't necessarily express it in a dramatic way. So ... is this guy willing to work to keep you? If he's got a brain, yes. Just be sure you're looking for the right signs -- the "work" he puts in to keep you will be represented by actions, not words, and by quiet, rock-solid reliability, not drama. If you're not getting *those* things ... then it's time to worry.

    Thank you for reminding me that just because I wear my passions on my sleeve doesn't mean that such is the DEFINITION of passion. I know in my heart that he's not going to leave me for another woman, and our relationship is going really well and makes me very happy. This is actually what's driving me crazy the most is that, even though I love him out of passion and choice and know that's he's the best boyfriend I've ever had, I can't shut up that stupid voice in my head.

    reply to Luciferia
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    Robynne wrote: Well, I don't think it's quite that "either/or". You may have been convenient in the sense that you instigated things. But, that doesn't mean he doesn't also like you. What worries me is this, though :"when did he ever look at you that way?" Does he actually look at you that way? Does he seek you out for companionship as well as sex? Or does he go about his life and leave all of the approaching up to you? In other words, does he treat you like a girlfriend or like a roommate who shows up in his bed with no effort on his part? If he treats you like a girlfriend, you've got to ignore that voice in your head. If he doesn't, you've got some serious thinking to do.

    Haha, obviously that was the most exaggerated, but it's probably still a very real fear I just don't spend much time thinking about in the hubub of my normal day. I think he treats me like a girlfriend. He asks me on dates when he remembers (and our busy work schedules allow it). That's just it, I've never been in a healthy, stable relationship before so I just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, so I don't FEEL like he's treating me poorly at all, and yet, when it arises, it still bothers me that I can so easily spot his attraction to other women. I mean hell, I get plenty of looks but I never return them. I don't flirt with anyone in front of him I am respectful because I know that HE gets jealous (though you'd have to really know him to notice).

    Anyway, yeah, I think my fears are rising to the surface now that this is something I can actually put some faith into and I'm afraid that he'll see me. All of me. All of the awful parts that I hide with wit and spunk that probably can't be sanded down all the way. And he'll see it all and be like, "well maybe if she were prettier it'd be worth sticking around for."

    Something like that? Urf. I swear I'm not crazy.

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    Barbara wrote: I totally understand this. Every woman gets annoyed by this and thinks about it. Just keep reminding yourself that he is SO lucky to be with you, and is going out with you over all the other ladies out there!

    A fine reminder, thanks babe! It's nice to know that other smart, strong, awesome women are also plagued by these stupid thoughts.

    reply to Luciferia
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    I think you're confusing attraction and appreciation. All men appreciate pretty women just like we appreciate seeing a good looking actor or someone. An attraction usually leads to an action and you've made it clear he hasn't done this. And at one point you were and still are) the one he appreciated and was attracted to - so you made him your boyfriend.

    You need to have more confidence in yourself. For the rest of your life there will be women more attractive than you that may turn your man's head. Get used to because men are extremely visual people. You need to accept that you are enough, period, and don't let insecurity ruin this. Good luck.

    reply to DCL
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    Just knowing about and trying to tame your own "crazy" is solace in and of itself. His head turns, you feel a dart, then your mind reacts with, "that's me causing that pain, not him. He's a good man. We have a good thing. I'm not letting my insecurity take it away from me."

    Bonus: Just knowing about and trying to tame your own "crazy" is more than many of those other girls are capable of.

    Other things that might help:

    Faking the confidence you don't have, and with humor. Declare your ass the nicest one in the world, for instance. I have no clue that yours isn't the nicest ass in the world, other than mine's supposed to be, but just this once, there can be two nicest asses in the world. If he looks at a hot girl, remember who has the nicest ass in the world. He might like being in on this declaration, too, if you think you can live with him bragging to everyone about your nice ass. (The ass is an example - it can be your baby fawn eyes or angel mouth or bubble nose or whatever is cute about you, or whatever you wish to declare cute about you).

    Reminding your man if it ever comes up, that you're not the boss of him and you only want him if he's with you because he wants to be. It's powerful to remember that if he wants someone else, he's free to dump you and pursue her. Especially when your phone rings and its him not dumping you. Then he kisses you and it's not him dumping you. Then he gives you a gift and it's not him dumping you. You may have feelings of insecurity and "body image issues," as so many gorgeous women do - but you are no control freak! You never suffer the delusion that you get to control another person's feelings or actions!

    Perhaps that's the dart you feel - the knowledge that he can if he wants to. Follow it with a pleasure dart - he can but he doesn't want to. Of course he doesn't want to. He has the girl with the nicest ass in the world!

    reply to Queenie
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    Queenie wrote: Just knowing about and trying to tame your own "crazy" is solace in and of itself. His head turns, you feel a dart, then your mind reacts with, "that's me causing that pain, not him. He's a good man. We have a good thing. I'm not letting my insecurity take it away from me." Bonus: Just knowing about and trying to tame your own "crazy" is more than many of those other girls are capable of. Other things that might help: Faking the confidence you don't have, and with humor. Declare your ass the nicest one in the world, for instance. I have no clue that yours isn't the nicest ass in the world, other than mine's supposed to be, but just this once, there can be two nicest asses in the world. If he looks at a hot girl, remember who has the nicest ass in the world. He might like being in on this declaration, too, if you think you can live with him bragging to everyone about your nice ass. (The ass is an example - it can be your baby fawn eyes or angel mouth or bubble nose or whatever is cute about you, or whatever you wish to declare cute about you). Reminding your man if it ever comes up, that you're not the boss of him and you only want him if he's with you because he wants to be. It's powerful to remember that if he wants someone else, he's free to dump you and pursue her. Especially when your phone rings and its him not dumping you. Then he kisses you and it's not him dumping you. Then he gives you a gift and it's not him dumping you. You may have feelings of insecurity and "body image issues," as so many gorgeous women do - but you are no control freak! You never suffer the delusion that you get to control another person's feelings or actions! Perhaps that's the dart you feel - the knowledge that he can if he wants to. Follow it with a pleasure dart - he can but he doesn't want to. Of course he doesn't want to. He has the girl with the nicest ass in the world!

    This...is...fucking...awesome.

    reply to Luciferia
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