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Not 'Letting Ourselves Go'...

I keep seeing this.... Women telling their stories here often feel the need to add in something about "I know I'm (some level of) attractive. I haven't let myself go!" I'm pretty sure I've said it before, too, if not here, then elsewhere. Our attractiveness has nothing to do with our situation! As much as we, mostly, understand that, we still feel this need to justify that, no, really, we aren't ugly or obese or horrifically misshapen. When, really, even if we significantly changed, body-wise, over the course of the marriage, that wouldn't justify our husbands' refusal.

I'm not going to try to say that "love is blind," but I do think that real, true love at least colors your perception a bit rosy. If you really love and admire your spouse, normal aging isn't going to keep you from desiring them. Suggesting that our attractiveness has anything to do with the reason our marriages are sexless belittles our experience.

And so, I, at least, am going to try try try to refrain from making body/attractiveness judgments about myself on here, in real life, or when simply analyzing things to myself. What I look like is beside the point. (And, yes, the urge to say something about how I look, even now, is ... bah... so aggravatingly strong.) What I look like doesn't matter, and letting myself indulge in attempts to prove my attractiveness only, really, makes me feel worse. I would ask other women on here to attempt the same--shift that focus, off your body and on to his actions.
liltree liltree 31-35, F 16 Responses Feb 17, 2013

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In the final analysis it only matters how we feel about ourselves. If I think I am disgusting because I have gained 30 or 130 pounds then I am. If our partner thinks we need to fit a certain imaginary ideal then the problem is theirs. My wife has gained a considerable amount of weight but I do not find it to be a turn-off or a turn-on. The problem of her weight is the negative effect on her self image, health and energy level. It prevents her from participating with me in things I enjoy like hiking, bicycling and other physically strenuous activities. I keep in shape not to increase my sexual appeal but to allow me to function in life at the age of 63. I do agree with the idea that physical appearance should not be a factor in an SM but we are all human. Sometimes our desires make no logical sense and we fixate on something easily measured.

I really like what you have written but at the risk of nitpicking your words, I disagree with part of your post. Does a spouse's attractiveness really have nothing to do with the causes of a sexless marriage? I can only speak about my situation but it surely has some effect. Were I to give it a number, I would say at least 20% of our sexlessness is due to my wife completely letting herself go. She's not huge, maybe 185 lbs, but doesn't hold it well and has lost her womanly figure. She makes no attempt to reverse this process even though I have offered to help and have led by example. This is unsexy to me, plain and simply.

And yes, the rest of my marriage is a mess as well so clearly physical attributes are not all that is in play. But who are these men who have fallen so in love with their wives that ANY physical change that they readily allow is perfectly acceptable? We call them enlightened, "real men" and the like, but I don't buy it. Maybe they just love obese women. Maybe they are so desperate for intimacy that they can't see straight.

Why do we keep trying to change what we are? We are human animals with hundreds of thousands of years of programming. So a woman fantasizes about being ravaged by her mate, yet that male must supress the physical component of his attraction and desire?

In my opinion, attractiveness does matter and especially if it has signifcantly changed in a short period of time. I don't know what to say to the women or men who have gotten back into shape only to find no change in their current situation. I know for a fact that I would sit up and notice my wife. I concede that given our problems, this would most likely not last though. An uptick in sexual frequency would be expected at least in the short term.

Of course it can be a factor, but it isn't the root problem is my point.

Haha, I'm reminded of a post in another forum (one for moms) by a woman who said she just wasn't "into" her husband anymore b/c he had gotten rather large and wasn't attractive like he used to be. She admitted to ************ regularly, and all the ladies told her to STOP ************, and her desire would surely come back since she said she otherwise loved him. She whined and moaned about it, but then did quit with the self-servicing. She was kind enough to report back that it did indeed work. Her fat husband was suddenly f-able once she stopped taking care of herself.

Who knows what the long term result was there, but I do very much believe that if the "love" is still there, attractiveness doesn't matter all that much. I can understand with drastic changes over a short time, to an extent, but if the spouse's body is the only problem, it should be easy enough to tell them and possibly save the marriage.

And if the love isn't there.... Well, yeah, anything will add on to the lack of love. Whether it's weight gain or anything else.

Absolutely! Physical attractivness has nothing or very little to do with whether ones spouse would like to give you a tumble in the hay. It might, however, make some difference with gaining another partner after the said spouse has been given marching orders... There would also be other benefits like maintaining self confidence etc.. I would recommend, therefore, not "letting oneself go"....

Haha, oh definitely. My point isn't that we SHOULD let ourselves go, but that we should stop blaming our physical appearance for our partners' refusals.

I'm, personally, still holding back the effort slightly, but I've got everything ready to go back into full-swing once I can date. Even got some pre-divorce weight loss going on (yay!). I am now officially down to my early high school weight--something I thought was impossible to see again.

I think we say things like that because we are just telling our selves, same as, I'm a good cook, I'm clean, I love kids or pets, I'm a good **** and so on.
We are just trying to figure out what it is that turned them off, it's a check list that goes on forever.
"I do think that real, true love at least colors your perception a bit rosy" that was beautifully said.

My x wife got to 300 lbs and was the refuser. So ladies its not appearance. I tryed for over 20 years before I weakend and caved in.

When my marriage went intimacy averse, I searched the back catalogues to figure out what was different.

I'd gained a fair amount of weight, and I felt less attractive. Partly because my marriage was intimacy averse, and partly, frankly, because I actually WAS less attractive because I'd gained more weight than was healthy - and it had changed the appearance of my body and face, and affected the way clothes fit me. There were other, more important factors, but this WAS a factor in terms of how I felt about myself.

I don't think that fitness in itself was "the cure" in terms of fixing everything, but it certainly was a huge factor (much more than I anticipated), in recovering my own self-esteem, and in restoring some lost confidence, which made me more apt to take necessary risks to rock the boat in my marriage.

Feeling attractive and confident in one's own skin, independently of someone else's approval, is never the wrong answer. It might not shift the needle in an intimacy averse marriage, but it does remove one possible hurdle, and more importantly, can shift one's own perspective on our options.

I agree as well.

"Confident in one's own skin" - Bullseye. I've always admired people who are comfortable in their own skin. Confident is even better - I might have to co-opt the phrase.

I'll see this glass as half full. I think that when people write something like this, they're snapping out of the hypnosis, it's one of the shakey, early and insecure steps towards building back their self confidence. Something along the lines of "...it isn't me, it isn't, I thought it was, but it isn't, I'm not that undesirable...". It's part of gearing up to leave, realising it's not entirely hopeless, there's a slight glimmer of a chance that someone worthwhile might want us. I know in my darkest moments I didn't think anyone would ever want me. It looks silly and facile, but there's value in making these statements, it's proclaiming to the world that you're worth more than this and you want things to change.

<p>Here's a bit of a different take on the attractiveness comments.</P><br />
<p>Perhaps it is those poor refused just taking inventory of all of their attributes and still confused as to why the refuser is refusing. Like with Santa Claus, they've made their list and checked it twice. But in spite of everything they've done and tried, nothing is opening the door to a sexual relationship. I suspect that they are truly stumped.</P><br />
<p>Also, they may be saying it "out loud" to bolster their own confidence. That, if they leave their sexless relationship, they would still be able to attract a replacement partner - after so many years out of the game.</P><br />
<p>I can sympathise. At least by keeping myself in shape, I much happier with how I look and that has improved my self confidence. I agree that looks should not matter so much in a long-term relationship; it's what's inside that truly counts. At least with people who aren't shallow partners. With refusers, who knows what's going on inside their heads - I certainly don't.</P>

I was thinking the same thing. Saying this out loud or writing might also be an affirmation to themselves to that they feel desireable. I also not the some men do this too - as reflected in their stories whereas they comment that they keep in shape, go to the gym, etc. Now I am curious as to the percentage of females who make comments in their stories about physical attractiveness relative to the males who make similar comments - who does it more?

Well, I'd bet it follows all the stereotypes in our culture. Women are supposed to be all curvy and beautiful, and all in bikinis at the beach, so they get a lot of pressure to have a "perfect" appearance. Guys are supposed to wear loose board shorts to the beach (that cover/hide everything) and handsome or a nice smile seems to sum up all the demands upon guys. No equality there!

I try to keep in good shape because I like the way I look and it is better for my health. I rarely see comments anywhere about what women would like to see in a guy's appearance (except for the smile, being handsome). I've always had the impression that women would love it if guys would start wearing Burkas - LOL!

Not to mention that the spouse is also a victim of the aging process, and may not be the feast for the eyes they once were either. But not to make light of your point, I totally agree. While there may be small minority who find their partners less than desirable physically, to the point of not wanting intimacy, the vast majority have issues that transcend the mere physical.

Most of can find some flaws with our appearance, be we male or female, and that says more about our own sense of self than what others project upon us.

I would also add that IF I am in a loving, functioning marriage and have let myself go to the point that my spouse no longer finds me attractive, I would expect that spouse to be able to speak to me kindly about what has happened and encourage me to make changes for my health and the health of the marriage. I would not expect my spouse to simply ignore the situation and ignore me.

And yes, weight and body changes over a lifetime are a health issue. I have no problem with that. But I do have a problem with it being used as an EXCUSE for deep marital issues.

So true, laureltree.

And you know what? When I read that "I am .... attractive" comment my immediate knee jerk emotional reaction is always ".... shallow".

What makes a woman sexy is her mind, her attitude to life, her personality and how warmly and directly she connects to other people; not how many different colours she paints her toenails, or how many bench-presses she does every Thursday afternoon.

I consider myself as beaten with an ugly stick, yet that never seems to have stopped anyone I value from wanting to make a connection ...

Hi Petrushka, please don't think women who refer to their level of attractiveness as shallow. It is the basis on which we women are trained from the cradle to judge ourselves, our "market value", the basis on which we *think* men want us, and immense social pressure to define our self-worth according to our appearance. I haven't met a woman yet who doesn't fret about her appearance because she knows that is how she is judged by others but especially by herself.

I was a weight loss consultant for 11 years.
Many people that gained weight for the First time after they have been in a long term relationship, "let themselves go " when they felt that there was no point looking good anymore ...because no one was noticing !
When their relationship has lost all it's gloss , what was the point.They were miserable when they were thin , so what did it matter.

The letting yourself go, sometimes results from the fact that the relationship is an unhappy one already.
Those that were there to lose the weight for themselves were more successful, than those who were losing it to keep their spouse happy.
Just my thoughts.

Well said. I agree.

Huge generalisation there. Fat people **** as much as skinny people. The life expectancy part is however, pretty well proven.

I absolutely agree that it doesn't have anything to do with the Refusers choice not to engage in affection/sex. However, I thought long and hard before putting similar lines in my first story and decided it was a feeling I had had for years durings the ups and downs - and I wanted to fit all those thoughts in. The truth is, valid or not, it's something a lot of us have wondered about ourselves and if people need to get it out..that's okay, too. And YES I hope they come to the realization that it is not about that.

I think these "hey I go to the gym and look pretty good" posts, usually go hand in glove with the "everything is great bar the sex" viewpoint.

FWIW, I went from fit and toned to lardo and back again in my dysfunctional deal, and truly, it made not a skerrick of difference to the sex level. If it was "on" then it was "on" irrespective of how I looked (or how she looked) at the time. Same when it was "off".

Personally, I don't believe there is a link.

Tread your own path.

there isn't or ought not to be a link....but all too often it's the first excuse or reason offered by husbands who refuse, in fact my own h trotted it out to me many times in the first 2 years of our sexless state.

Yeah, my husband has implied it from time to time, too. Though, a rational reflection on how I look tells me that I look exactly like a 30 year old version of my 20 year old self, just as he looks like a 40 year old version of his 30 year old self. It is only an excuse, not a reason.

I am going to be provocative by suggesting that there is a tightrope to be walked here. Of course, on the one hand, normal ageing should not be an obstacle because we all age and we should not be hypocritical about it. However, on the other hand, if we have become the human equivalent of a beached walrus through our own recklessness and indifference, we are in a poor position to complain. As in all things and as always, there is a typical balance to be struck. That is just natural. That is life. Que sera, sera.

Part of my point is that most of us have not become a "beached walrus." Or, if we have, our partner is eating/living the same way we are and is also our walrus spouse.

agree, laurel. too often the assumption is that the woman's appearance is the reason there's no sex, and disregards completely that some men (LOTS, actually) become very lazy, complacent, &amp; settled---yet still see the same younger, thinner, hotter reflection when they look at themselves. whereas most women i know are their own worst critics and have a very realistic if not overly harsh view of their own appearance.