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Why can't I just believe my husband when he says that he's not concerned with my looks?

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Question - (14 December 2010) 2 Answers - (Newest, 14 December 2010)
A female United States age 51-59, *izBeth writes:

Please note: Anything that you read that my husband said was in answer to questions that I asked and I told him to be honest.

After a long, and sometimes loud, discussion with my husband last weekend, I am still having trouble believing something he said. He told me that while he would like me to be thinner he just isn't concerned with how I look otherwise. (As long as I'm clean! And neatly dressed if we go somewhere. And for the record, the "thinner" comment wasn't hurtful. I wish it too, and he didn't say it hurtfully.) In the process of this, he told me that except for being thinner, there was no way that I could ever be his physically "ideal woman." (Which he also said changes from time to time. What does THAT mean?) His preferences are things that I just can't change. I can understand that. He told me that he is with me because he loves me, that our sex life isn't about feeling a big physical attraction to me but about an emotional connection, that he loves me because of who I am inside and the things that we share. I get that many women would love to have that. What I don't get is why would he be with me if I didn't meet more of his physical wish list? He has said that I'm nice looking, but only when I've pushed the issue in a hyper-emotional conversation. Which I try to not do to him.

And that's the thing that's really hard, and what started the whole discussion in the first place. He can't seem to give me a compliment about how I look. He says it's because he doesn't really notice, and on the odd occasion when he does, it's just not in his nature to comment. Yet, we can watch TV or a movie and he can make a random positive remark about an actress. Again, not in a hurtful way towards me, but just at random. So, if he can say something like that, why can't he say that about me? He says that he really doesn't remember making those comments, and knowing him that could be true. My point is that he can, he just chooses not to because he says it's not a big deal to him. Yet, he'll go online and look at all kinds of pictures of beautiful women. (Very rarely porn, but on occasion.) He also said that while physical attractiveness is nice, for him it wears off after a couple of weeks. Again, something else I have a tough time believing. I asked him if I got down to a good weight/size for me, would he be able to compliment me? He very honestly said, "I don't know."

A bit of a back story: I've NEVER been the pretty girl. I've always been the person who hears, "Hey, would you introduce me to your friend?" and, "You're such a great person..." My ex once told me, "I didn't fantasize about other women until you put on weight." I'm very plain and my nose is too big for my face, just for starters. After everything I've been through in my life, I have a very hard time believing that my looks don't matter to him.

He has said that if I can't fix my attitude about this, it's going to drive a wedge between us. I think that may be true even though it is NOT what I want.

I realize this is a LOT of stuff, but just a couple of things:

1. I know my self-esteem sucks. You needn't tell me to work on that in your answer. I know, I know!

2. Yes, I have a therapist and yes we're working on it. And he has said to me that A) my husband is a very honest person and has not lied about any of these things and that B) I will definitely feel better about myself if I get back to exercising. (Endorphins, looking better, etc. will help me feel better.)

Problem is, I feel paralyzed by the fear of the pain that will come if he STILL can't tell me that I look good without having to prompt him.

Thoughts? Opinions? Ideas? Thanks.

View related questions: my ex, porn, sex life

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A male reader, smile(: United States +, writes (14 December 2010):

Have you ever heard the saying, beauty is only skin deep?

It says your age is 41-50, that is typically when most people have passed their prime for physical beauty.

Is it really worth pursuing something you can't change?

Personally, I think physical attractiveness is less important than other types of beauty. It is more difficult to see, to quantify, but in the long run, it is what people will remember. If a person is a grouch, would you want to hang around with them? If they were extremely physically attractive it wouldn't make any difference.

I am more attracted to people who are emotionally mature, people who are interesting, people who are fun. You could even say I am more attracted to such people physically than to someone who is just physically attractive. You say, you have never been a pretty girl, I think you are wrong, you always have, but you are looking at the wrong type of pretty, at the less important kind of pretty.

I don't think you should have self esteem issues with your physical looks. Have you ever seen someone with a bright smile, "big nose" or no, it is the smile you remember. A smile draws people in. This is what your husband sees, this is why he doesn't really notice how you look. With familiarity, I don't really look at exactly how a person looks. Have you ever been friends with someone who was deformed? After being around them for a while you forget they are any different than any other person. Being around people with a sour personality, it seems I always notice it. If you lost out physical and have a personality, I would say you scored it big.

I would say you should look into this yourself:

"He told me that he is with me because he loves me, that our sex life isn't about feeling a big physical attraction to me but about an emotional connection, that he loves me because of who I am inside and the things that we share."

That you should examine your emotional feelings for him, and the things you share with him; it sounds like your relationship is special to him, is it special to you?

Do you always notice exactly how your husband looks? Does a receding hairline, or white hair, or whatever else bother you?

How long does it take to have a physical relationship with someone? 10 minutes? But a deep relationship, someone you trust, someone you love? sometimes it takes a lifetime to develop. You should definitely not feel threatened by your feeling like you are not the prettiest person around. Your husband loves you for deeper reasons. Even when you turn 70, and are not much to look at, he will still love you.

Your husband thinks you look fine, what else really matters? You say the thinner comment didn't bother you, you complain about him not noticing you, a longer rant. Perhaps what you want is attention, instead of physical beauty. Physical beauty does typically get more attention, but it also typically is not the type of attention one would want.

Perhaps ask your husband, if physical beauty isn't important, to compliment you on the things he does notice more. Ask him what contributes to his "emotional connection" to you, what you are inside that contributes to his love for you, ask him what things you share that he thinks are special.

Best wishes,


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A female reader, loveistheanswer United States +, writes (14 December 2010):

loveistheanswer agony auntLooks do matter to him, but not in the big deal you're making it out to be... just lose a little weight and you'll be less self-conscious around him... btw, don't hold your breath for him to give you compliments afterward though, some men just aren't wired like that, I'm perfectly normal weight but my husband never pays me compliments out of the blue, it's only if we're having a conversation that involves discussing our looks that he says to me I'm attractive. So don't worry about it, it's really not a big deal, I would believe most of what he says except the part where he says looks don't matter (at all). They do matter, just probably not as much as his love for you in the context of your relationship (and you should thank your lucky stars that this is the case), I'm sure every guy appreciates a good looking woman he just means he doesn't hold it against you that you're not some sort of physical goddess, because his love for you makes it not matter quite so much, but don't get him wrong if you lost some weight it would probably make him look at you a little differently for sure, no matter how little he lets on. I think sometimes men are always walking on tenterhooks around us so they tell little white lies to keep the peace, but that's nothing to worry about.

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