I want to be a brain in a jar
August 10, 2010 6:14 PM   Subscribe

I’m feeling really devastated right now, and could use some solid, grounded advice. The big picture: last night I finally talked to my husband about why we weren’t having sex. Like, at all. Turns out it’s because I’m fat. How do I get over the pain of this revelation and what should I do about this mess I find myself in, emotionally?

The nitty gritty:
I’m 33 years old. I’m short, I have a very curvy body - with most of the curves in the right places, actually. I’ve never been skinny. Never. I can remember being called fat in elementary school (I wasn’t - but I wasn’t thin, either) and once I started developing breasts (fourth grade) my days of being oblivious about my body and not self conscious were completely over. I’ve been married for 9 years now, and we’ve been together for 12. He’s 31. I love my guy intensely. I honestly believe that we have something amazing and special between us, we care for each other, and we really fit with each other. We have loads in common, do lots of things together, get along, see eye to eye and can talk about *almost* anything. But sex has repeatedly been an issue in our relationship, and as of last night, I’m seriously wondering if I wouldn’t be better off as a brain in a jar. My body seems to be nothing but trouble. I wish there were a way to get rid of it and keep the good bits around, since that’s what matters, evidently.

Some background stuff: When we first got together I went on depo provera. It seemed an ideal birth control solution - nothing for forgetful me to remember, no muss, no fuss. However, it just about killed my sex drive and helped me put on some weight that was very hard to lose (beginning of a long trend). Because we were young and just figuring things out - I was his first serious relationship - the conversations we had then about sex really, really hurt me. I have clear and distinct memories of lying in bed, tears streaming down my face, as he laid out a litany of what was wrong with me. Too frigid, not affectionate enough, too passive, too quiet in bed, too fast, too ticklish… too too too. That hurt, and the fact that I couldn’t really get my body to do what I wanted it to do - even when my mind was really into it, I just couldn’t get wet - made him feel rejected. Eventually I also heard (and saw) that basically it was too much work and too much trouble to get me turned on. And so things started tapering off between us.

That was then. Fast forward a bit. The guy and I are polyamorous - it’s one of a million things that we agree on and see eye to eye. We were poly in principle but not in action for a long time, just because we’re both picky and I’m shy. I’ve always been *very* happy that he can find other people to relate to, who enrich his life. I worry sometimes that he’s kind of a misanthrope, and seeing him gain faith in humanity is a sweet and good thing. He hasn’t dated a whole lot, but it’s been enough for him to get some experience. The both of us dated one girl together - and that was an utter disaster. I was coming off the birth control (he got a vasectomy) and I felt weird. She was far more into him than she was into me, and later admitted that she started dating me as a way to get to him, and was never actually interested in me or a joint relationship with us at all. It was a nightmare situation, really, and hurt me badly. And our sex life tapered off a little more, and a little more.

Fast forward a bit more. We dumped the girlfriend. Things improved slightly in the bedroom. He got a new girlfriend, a long distance thing with a girl in California. Their relationship was (is) amazingly rocky and dramatic, pretty much the opposite of ours. The first time they met, she told him she didn’t find him physically attractive (she knew what he looked like) and she was expecting angels since she thought she was in love. He was devastated. He thought she ought to be attracted to him for who he was. They had pity sex. It got weirder from there. It really damaged his confidence. I did the best I could to convince him he was still attractive - I have ALWAYS been attracted to him, and thought the ideal she wanted was ridiculous. They made up. I kept my distance, tried to be supportive as best I could, but wanted him to come to his own conclusions about the relationship.

Now she’s living with us. I thought it would be a temporary thing, but, well, it isn’t. I had honestly never experienced intense jealousy before - now I have. They have sex four or five times a week. He complains that it isn’t very good. And we just… don’t. I started keeping track - we have sex maybe once every three months. I didn’t know what to do. I tried setting up specific ‘sexy times’ for the two of us. He felt pressured, just wanted to relax when he was with me, was so relieved we had ‘more than just sex’ to do with one another. I tried writing him erotica. I tried roleplaying. I tried being less passive - which is really hard for me, but I did try. And… nothing. And I realized that I wasn’t wanting the sex she got - that I was just wanting intimacy too, and I felt that he had done the ‘relationship’s broke: add more people’ thing. And that helped me deal with the jealousy quite a bit, realizing that I didn’t want bad things for her at all. I just wanted some good things for me. But I was still pretty frustrated with things.

And now here I am. I’m lonely. I’m spending a lot of time with my toys. I’m desperate for the man I love and the man I want to *want* me. And last night I finally said something about it. I didn’t know how not to anymore. I tried just dealing with it myself - it’s my problem. But I wanted to know that he wanted me. And what he said was “well maybe if you lost some weight…”. And I’m just crushed. He then tried to have sex with me twice, and failed. He was under too much pressure. It’s not like I was turned on at that point anyway. Nor did he try to turn me on - he was just focusing on himself, not even realizing that he wasn’t *touching* me, and that this wasn’t the way to convince me that I was still wanted.
He said a lot of things that were good to hear. That he loved me. That he cares deeply. That he’s afraid of me dying. That he wants to be with me forever and ever. He apologized for not being more aware of and attending to my needs and desires. He said he’d love me and stay with me even if we never had sex again. Which is… sort of good to hear. But I’m hearing and feeling only the bad notes right now in this symphony.

And now I feel lost, and I feel more lonely than ever. Can I do this? Can I keep on the way we have been? Can I just be his supportive great best friend who cooks the meals and buys the groceries and pays the bills and is his best buddy and helps him with relationship problems and talks to him and cheers him up and cleans the house and is too fat to fuck? Can I do that? Do I want to do that? Will it really be fixed (“maybe” he said… MAYBE) if I lost the extra weight I’m carrying? I want to do that. I never wanted to be too fat to be attractive. It's not like 'fat' is something I consciously chose. My metabolism is slow, and every single activity I like and enjoy and am good at is sedentary. I wonder at what pound mark the line was crossed. But would he want me then? I don’t know. I don’t know if I believe it. I don’t know how to believe it right now. And can I keep motivated to do it? Is the thought “gee, my husband, who gets plenty of sex, will want to fuck me again if I’m skinny” be enough to keep me doing… whatever it is that I need to do to be skinny? I’m resentful. I’m hurt. A small, mean, nasty part of me is even thinking “well, HE has outlets, HE has a girlfriend…” and considers really trying to find it in myself to do the dating thing. I won’t. That’s wrong. I don’t want to bring someone into my life (our lives, really) on those kind of terms. It wouldn’t be fair or right. But oh, I’m feeling spiteful. And I’m feeling tired. And I can’t help but remember how hurt he was when she did something so shallow to him, and how it broke his heart, and I’m bitter about that. And I’m feeling so, so, so sad. He tried to be supportive, when he said these things. He’s grown a lot, in 12 years. I guess I have too, just in all the wrong dimensions.

I don’t know HOW to take this well. Do I transform it into a driving need to be… well, from my perspective, more shallow? I care about this though. I want him to want me. And he doesn’t. He doesn’t. Should I get a personal trainer? Join a gym? I’m already changing my eating habits - I have slightly high cholesterol and have been trying to fix that for a couple of months now. I’ve lost five pounds. He didn’t notice. I didn’t point it out. Should I do something more extreme? His girlfriend is on the atkins diet (which makes meal time challenging, since I’m the household cook). I’ve never been on a diet. I’ve been trying to approach the cholesterol issue not as a diet but as a lifestyle change, looking for small things I can do that won’t be too inconvenient for myself or anyone else who eats my food. Right now I feel a heart-crushing despair when I think about joining a gym. I never wanted to be the fat girl who’s trying to win back her man. I can’t believe I am even considering this. How can I be positive, in this situation? How can I stop crying when I think about it? How can I get back my self esteem and hear the good things and find a way to be all right with this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (111 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Honey, to be brief...DTMFA, and get *yourself* right.
posted by iamabot at 6:22 PM on August 10, 2010 [48 favorites]

Let's see - you're having to cook for your husband and the girl he's sleeping with, who isn't you?

This isn't polyamory, it's emotional sadism. DTMFA.
posted by zadcat at 6:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [96 favorites]

Honey, all I can say to you is this: I am five feet tall and NOT skinny (pm me and I'll friend you on facebook so you can see for yourself) and my husband is VERY sexually attracted to me.

Yes, it's good to be healthy. Yes, it's better to be at a healthy weight. But you are more than your weight and it is not wrong for you to want your man to want you the way you are.

This guy has a great deal, wherein you meet his emotional and practical needs and then gets his sexual needs elsewhere. There is really no guarantee that he would "eat at home" so to speak even if you became a toothpick.

Let me metaphorically look you in the eye and say this: You ARE attractive. You ARE worthwhile. And this guy probably does not deserve you. YOU deserve a partner that appreciates you. ALL of you.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:27 PM on August 10, 2010 [21 favorites]

I don't believe that the problem is your weight, but it seems that's all you're seeing. There are many many issues here, your weight is just one tiny one in a bucket of many others. I can't offer any advice on how to fix your relationship, and I'm not going to suggest dumping someone you love. Maybe you guys should consider some outside help?
posted by Sufi at 6:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Should you go on a diet so that your husband, who is in a sexual relationship with another woman, will want to have sex with you? No. What you need to do is figure out why you're still in this relationship, because you sound completely unhappy and unfulfilled. You don't need to change yourself to suit your husband's supposed desires...you need to either change the relationship into something that works for both of you, or leave it. Sorry to hear you're going through all this.
posted by tetralix at 6:29 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]

he's hunting for something he doesn't even know what is. he might have convinced himself that this is about your size, but i'd be really surprised if that was the actual thing. don't join a gym for this man. leave this man and join a gym so you can have something to do while you get over him.

this is the part of your question you need to be reading over and over and over again "Can I do this? Can I keep on the way we have been? Can I just be his supportive great best friend who cooks the meals and buys the groceries and pays the bills and is his best buddy and helps him with relationship problems and talks to him and cheers him up and cleans the house and is too fat to fuck?" - because the answer is no. or rather, you probably could do all those things, but why would you? you shouldn't do all those things.

i've mentioned this sort of thing about married men who step out on their wives before - but it also shows up in some poly relationships - you are his mother figure. you are the one who kisses his boo-boos and lifts responsibility from his shoulders, and is always, always there. he has no interest in fucking his mom and thus, no interest in having sex with you. this girl you guys have living with you is another part of his acting out - i'd wager he keeps her around so he can prove that even if she said she wasn't attractive, she still wants him. he thrives on the drama from her and then gets a respite from you.

you're spending a lot of energy thinking about why he doesn't want you (and who could blame you - this sounds like a terrible situation to find yourself in) - but maybe you should start moving your thoughts to why you'd want him. marriage is work and i am not quick to say DTMFA, especially in such a long relationship - but you don't need to be in a situation that kills your spirit.

from your telling of things he's been killing your self esteem the entire time you've been together. the entire time he's found a problem with you to explain a dysfunction in himself. if you really want to improve your self esteem and stop crying every day, rip off the band aid and leave him. in the words of late 90s r&b song - "i can do bad all by myself". you don't need him around for that.
posted by nadawi at 6:29 PM on August 10, 2010 [56 favorites]

Isn't a polyamorous relationship one where everyone is getting their needs met? ... Respectfully, lovingly? Your relationship sounds like it provides you with neither of these. Actually, it doesn't sound like it provides you with anything. at. all.

Read your question ALOUD to yourself. If this were your friend telling you these things, someone you truly loved and cared for, what would you tell him/her? Do that. Now.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 6:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [13 favorites]

I'm so sorry, your story is heartbreaking and I feel for you. in brief I have to agree with iamabot. your husband tells you he loves you etc but you don't feel emotionally satisfied or fulfilled, loved or cherished. and you absolutely deserve to be, weight not withstanding.

have you thought of trying therapy? not for weight or body image issues but for general self-esteem and sense of yourself. you and your husband have been together for a very long time so the thought of leaving him is probably pretty frightening. therapy can help you regain the sense of yourself (as you, not part of a set) that you need to make some choices. you are still young, think about how you would like to see your life reaching into the future, the things you want for yourself. you can and do deserve to have them (and you can absolutely have them all as a fat girl!!) you are not in a healthy relationship dear, and its harming you.
posted by supermedusa at 6:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

All I can say is, I don't know how anyone loses weight under such pressure as you've described here /for another person. From reading this, I'm not even sure if that's the problem. Maybe take a step back without "doing" anything for a while (a week, a month) and observe what's going on as objectively as possible and decide how you feel about it - without putting any pressure on yourself for the duration.
posted by marimeko at 6:30 PM on August 10, 2010

You and your husband seem more like friends than partners. Don't get me wrong, it's good if you and your partner are friends, too, but it seems from reading this that your husband wants someone he can vent to and let take care of him (you) and someone he can get physical relief from (her), but is intimate with neither of you. Frankly, I really don't know that you losing weight will help with these issues. Some of the things he has said to you have been less honest communication and more hurtful blaming and judgment--no wonder you are feeling bad about yourself!

I want to congratulate you on losing those 5 pounds. Keep up the good work! Exercise will help your self-image and your mood, so I say keep that up for yourself if for no other reason.

And if you have made the decision to be poly, I guess I think you should pursue that. It may seem like you should repair this relationship first, so I could be wrong, but I think that you need to be a little selfish here and give yourself permission to explore your sexuality with someone who appreciates you. I am more concerned with you accepting yourself, loving who you are, and not relyiing so much on this man--because no matter how you try to spin it, he just doesn't sound like he is good for you. I'm sorry.
posted by misha at 6:33 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I guess the first question that comes to mind is... Are you sure "you're too fat to [well, you know]" is the whole story? It seems like a rather simplistic reason for not having ANY sex -- and apparently a rather effective emotional tactic for focusing your attention on something other than just the lack of sexual activity. Has your weight really changed that much over the years that he would go from extremely attracted to not at all attractive?

If you want to save the relationship, I'd definitely pursue these questions and make him really engage in some serious reflection. I'd also recommend that you ask him to see a therapist with you to address the issue (and preferably a therapist who's not the type to play blame games). A more serious, emotionally mature discussion seems necessary here (certainly something more than you're too fat -- how lame). Otherwise, yeah... consider what you life would be like if you heeded the rather straightforward advice of the first couple of posters.
posted by GnomeChompsky at 6:34 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

He's certainly getting everything he wants - sex with the other woman, friends with you...but what are you getting? Not what you deserve or need, that's clear.

I think you should turn this whole thing around and focus on what you want for yourself. You want someone to want you for who you are and you aren't going to find that with him. He's giving you no assurances that even if you do what he asks, that he's going to give you what you need. So go elsewhere to get it. Start dating. Work on that self-esteem. Make new friends who like to do the things you enjoy.

Whatever you do, DON'T lose weight just for him on the off chance it will magically make him want you. That's got heartache and temporary written all over it. Do it for you and you alone if you want to. Do it because you value yourself and your health.

Good luck to you - you clearly deserve so much more than what you're getting!
posted by cecic at 6:34 PM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]

Five pounds of weight loss are difficult to notice for someone who sees you every day, especially if you're overweight. I'd skip the personal trainer and gym membership for now and focus on reducing your caloric intake and watching what you eat. It's sounds like you're approaching it somewhat half-heartedly; maybe you could meet with a nutritionist who can give you stricter guidelines? You're way too young to have high cholesterol – that's certainly not just a matter of "slow metabolism".

Regardless of whether you choose to stay with him or not (and it really sounds like you're not getting much out of this relationship), losing weight will not only make you healthier, but it will boost your confidence. Good luck.
posted by halogen at 6:35 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Aw, honey. This has a WHOLE SHITLOAD less to do with YOU than with HIM... he is a dick. I'm sorry, but he is. He's acting like an asshole despite how it hurts you, and when you confront him with his hurtful behavior, he's pinning it on YOU. My ex-husband did this to me when we were divorcing - "Well, maybe if you weren't so ____ or ____, I wouldn't have to look elsewhere!" This is emotional sadism of a particular hideous variety.

The only things you need to modify are things you would OTHERWISE want to modify yourself, for our own emotional/physical well-being. It is not your job to mold yourself to his ideals in order to desperately vie for some scrap of intimacy/validation. I have lived like that, and it runs your self-worth through a Cuisinart. Love you for you. And if he can't, fuck him... well, not literally, of course, but you get the gist.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:37 PM on August 10, 2010 [10 favorites]

I was too brief, I didn't mean get your weight right, this isn't about weight.

Weight is a cop out, it's a sham, it's bullshit.

Get that part of you inside who knows who you are and what makes you wonderful out there, embrace it and don't let anyone compromise it. Talk to people about it, professionally if you need to, your friends, etc.

(Still DTMFA though.)
posted by iamabot at 6:38 PM on August 10, 2010

You are cooking for the other woman? That boggles my mind.

I do get how things like this happen, but, really, get out of the pot before it boils you alive.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 6:42 PM on August 10, 2010 [10 favorites]

The biggest issue is the polyamory. If their relationship takes away from yours, it really isn't polyamory, is it?

Ignoring that, there seems to be two issues: his rudeness and your self image. I kinda think if your weight/bodyshape wasn't already an issue for you, you wouldn't be writing this. You would have just said "take it or leave it, jerk." SO first and foremost, you have to get right with yourself. Accept your body as it is, or take steps to change it, or both. Totally your choice, and you should make it for YOU and what makes you happy.

He will still probably be a jerk, though.

How can I be positive, in this situation? How can I stop crying when I think about it? How can I get back my self esteem and hear the good things and find a way to be all right with this?

Create an action plan that works for you. And don't depend on others for your baseline well-being.

(PS- It might be helpful to throw in some concrete numbers and or your fitness level. It's hard to give rational advice when we don't know what we are talking about. 5'0" and 300 is a lot different from 6' and 300.)
posted by gjc at 6:46 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

And now I feel lost, and I feel more lonely than ever. Can I do this? Can I keep on the way we have been? Can I just be his supportive great best friend who cooks the meals and buys the groceries and pays the bills and is his best buddy and helps him with relationship problems and talks to him and cheers him up and cleans the house and is too fat to fuck?

In a word, no.

Whether or not you stay in this relationship (I wouldn't, but I am not a polyamory kind of person), you need to find a person to make you feel good and sexy. You need to get your mojo back. You need to reevaluate your relationship.
posted by pickypicky at 6:47 PM on August 10, 2010

It's hard to give rational advice when we don't know what we are talking about.

no it's not. because just like her not getting laid isn't related to her size, our advice should also not be based on her size. she could be four feet tall and five hundred pounds and the advice would still be "hey, your hubby sounds like a jerk who seemingly chooses the most hurtful things to say to direct any problem off his shoulders and on to the closest/easiest target - and, if you don't like your body, here are some tips for changing that in a non-scary way"

this isn't like a legal question where jurisdiction is needed.
posted by nadawi at 6:49 PM on August 10, 2010 [25 favorites]

I'll tell you how to instantly lose 160 pounds or so: DTMFA. You may be carrying some extra weight, but the weight that's doing the most damage to you isn't what's on your hips, it's this jerk.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:51 PM on August 10, 2010 [67 favorites]

From the OP: "I'm 5'3" and 230 pounds"
posted by jessamyn at 6:51 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

it’s my problem.

No, it's not. You and he agreed to marry, and part of that was agreeing to a lifelong sexual partnership with the understanding that each of you will age and get fat and sag and gray and you will keep loving each other and meeting each other's sexual needs. If he feels he can't continue that, it's not your problem, and there's nothing wrong with you. It's a problem in the relationship. It's a problem he should be eagerly, urgently trying to find solutions to.

Your body is not the issue. Your body is not the problem. The problem seems to be that you and your husband have had a difficult time figuring out your sex life since the beginning of your relationship and it hasn't gotten better. And now, instead of addressing the huge problem that sex and intimacy have become (while you are making such an effort to engage him and are stretching yourself to try to find ways that might interest him), he's invested himself into another relationship.

...and then he says, "Maybe if you lost some weight"? Was he trying to make sure you felt just as awful as he did when his girlfriend said she wasn't attracted to him? Because I can't imagine any other reason to look at a complex, longterm, ongoing issue in my marriage and flippantly telling my spouse, "Well, maybe if you lost some weight."

I know it's the cliche here, but seriously, if this thread isn't enough to convince you that you deserve better than your husband's attitude and behavior, I'd strongly suggest you find a therapist with whom to talk about this. You sound so frustrated and sad, and your assessment seems so final--that your body is the problem. Please consider that you may be stuck in an unhealthy mode of thinking, and talking to a therapist might help you make a better assessment of yourself, your body, and your marriage.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [13 favorites]

Here this phenomenon is again.

I said this in another thread, but everything you wrote makes me think of this too.

It just makes me feel really bad because it seems like there's this new feminine mystique cropping up, where you see these questions (invariably from really young women in their teens and early 20s) saying stuff like "Sorry for this totally irrational and neurotic question but -- I know I'm not supposed to be jealous or clingy, and I'm supposed to be GGG, so I'm fine with the guy I'm dating [sleeping with/getting lap dances from/secretly taking nude pictures, using my camera, of] other women. But why am I so unhappy? Please help me accept this situation."

It's like the idea that their desires/non-desires are just as valid as anyone else's is completely laughable to them, and they couch these questions with all the talk of being irrational like they think it would be laughable to everyone else too.

You are so concerned with his feelings, and her feelings, and supporting them, and worrying about being selfish and worrying about "doing right" by them. Guess what, wanting your basic needs and desires to be met is not selfish. Not going along with something that HURTS you is not selfish. If you are highly jealous in the situation you're in that's not horribly self centered and bitchy, that's NORMAL. If you resent him for having his cake and eating it too while you are starving that's not "small, mean, nasty," that's the reality of the situation.

I think you should make a long, long list of everything you want and need in a primary romantic relationship, forgetting about what anyone else wants and needs. Make it highly detailed. Then, compare it to what your husband wants and needs. If they are incompatible, don't let your husband's needs automatically trump your like it sounds you have been doing starting when he first gave you the litany of all the things that are wrong with you. Work it out fairly, or maybe it really is time to start looking.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [47 favorites]

This sounds like a really unhealthy and unhappy relationship. Please know that you deserve to be loved and respected no matter what you weigh. I'll be sending good thoughts your way.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 6:56 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Oh, sweetheart, what? No. I don't care if you're supposedly so fat that you block out the sun - if he's busy sleeping with other women and the only thing he's learned how to do with his mouth is point out your supposed inadequacies, he's doing it wrong.

Regardless of how he feels or says, he is not acting like a person who loves you. You aren't indifferent about causing people pain if you love them. You are careful about making them feel small because of your hang ups. You don't make them confront you about something that is essentially your issue. Love is kind. He is not. Part of love is committing yourself to learning things sexually together, and showing gratitude that someone cares enough to figure out what you want by learning what they want.

Don't be the fat girl losing weight to keep your man. It won't work. Even when you lose the weight, you'll be on the treadmill of trying to keep the weight off, or there will be something else - you don't look young enough, he doesn't like your style, you are so pushy, or your aren't supportive enough, or something. You'll never be good enough, because you already are good enough. Yes, you can just be the best buddy. But you want more - and deserve more. I hope you'll consider going to find it.

Instead, be the woman taking care of herself and keeping herself healthy, regardless of weight. And find a man who wants to sexually please you.

And why wouldn't your current guy want to be with you forever and ever - you sound like a thoughtful open person who is trying to be accepting of him and is doing everything for him, though he's behaving poorly. But it's about what you want. If you want a partner who wants you, and is compatible, it might not be this man. I know that seems odd because it might seem like you are so close in terms of compatibility, and who wants to risk it to find someone else?

But in the long term, you have to put you first. Would he lose weight for you? Would you even ever ask him such a ridiculous thing? Would he be comfortable with someone you were having sex with staying in the house? If you saw he was feeling lonely, would you let him twist in the wind? Please consider finding a man who loves you -sexually as well - just as you are.
posted by anitanita at 6:56 PM on August 10, 2010 [16 favorites]

It's a good thing I read this thread before I posted, or I would have said exactly what nadawi already did about you being the "mother figure" in this situation. You cook for him and his girlfriend, you satisfy his emotional need to be taken care of, and judging from your question, he's pretty damn confident (as am I, sadly), that you have/had NO intentions of leaving him. That needs to end, for your sake, as others have already said more eloquently than I probably could.

Are you truly, truly sure that you are polyamorous? I ask this for the following reason:

And now here I am. I’m lonely. I’m spending a lot of time with my toys. I’m desperate for the man I love and the man I want to *want* me.

You then, a few paragraphs later, mention that you've considered dating as well, but don't want to bring another man into your life "on these terms." Now, don't get me wrong, I think that attitude displays great strength and an honorable character - toward the potential date. I think you're absolutely right in not wanting to "use" another guy to bolster your own self-esteem while you don't really give a shit about his. That's commendable, and a lot more considerate than a lot of other people would be in your shoes. Hell, that's what this current guy is more or less doing to you. But here's why I asked the question - in the line I quoted above, you said THE man. Not A man, not ONE OF the men - he's "the" one. And I also caught a hint of spite (I'm not ripping on you, I'd be spiteful too toward this current guy) when you discussed dating others.

A small, mean, nasty part of me is even thinking “well, HE has outlets, HE has a girlfriend…” and considers really trying to find it in myself to do the dating thing. I won’t.

If you two have truly discussed this and are on the same page with it, then why is that a "small, mean, nasty" thing to do...to this guy? If this were truly a polyamorous relationship, why is he the only one that gets to indulge guilt-free? If you really did go and date someone else, what would you really be feeling guilty about? Offloading your issues onto a third party? Betraying the current guy? Or just doing something that deep, deep down, you didn't really feel fit into who you were? I cannot possibly know the answer to this, but I suggest you ask yourself and/or a therapist these questions sooner rather than later.

Also, why is it "small, mean and nasty" for you to even consider doing EXACTLY WHAT HE IS DOING RIGHT NOW?? How does that work? You never said he was "small, mean, and nasty" for insulting you and having you act as a kind of servant to him and his girlfriend - so why think of yourself that way? Trust me, you're not. You are not the least bit of any of those things. If you were, you would have set his clothing on fire by now. You are a kindhearted person who wants the best for the people she loves. You are being unreasonably put upon by this guy, and IANAD but I think you have some serious soul-searching to do. It can commence as soon as you get out of this awful situation and begin to think about what YOU want out of life, not what he does. I hope this didn't come across as terribly harsh or judgmental, because I didn't mean it to be. You can memail me if you'd like.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 7:04 PM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]

There were two parts of your post that really stood out to me:

1. I have clear and distinct memories of lying in bed, tears streaming down my face, as he laid out a litany of what was wrong with me. Too frigid, not affectionate enough, too passive, too quiet in bed, too fast, too ticklish… too too too. That hurt, and the fact that I couldn’t really get my body to do what I wanted it to do - even when my mind was really into it, I just couldn’t get wet - made him feel rejected. Eventually I also heard (and saw) that basically it was too much work and too much trouble to get me turned on.

2. Can I just be his supportive great best friend who cooks the meals and buys the groceries and pays the bills and is his best buddy and helps him with relationship problems and talks to him and cheers him up and cleans the house and is too fat to fuck?

As an outsider -- and I know you haven't told us all the good stuff that goes on, but still -- this sounds downright abusive. Please consider finding a therapist. You've taken a pretty long and hard beating, and you could use some help finding your strength again, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone who can listen impartially and help you become a strong and assertive woman again.
posted by Houstonian at 7:06 PM on August 10, 2010 [14 favorites]

Someone once told me, when I was in an abusive relationship, where I paid all the bills, did all the cooking, and he wouldn't have sex with me "You know, it's okay to leave." From my understanding, a functional polyamorous relationship is based on mutual love, trust and respect. It doesn't sound to me like you are getting these from him at all.
posted by Zophi at 7:06 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

What everyone else said. Take care of yourself -- stop taking care of him, because he sure as hell doesn't deserve it.

I don't even know this guy and I want to punch him. Get out.
posted by sdn at 7:08 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

This isn't about you being fat. This is about how he treats you. He's been putting you down for 12 years. The way he dealt with your sexual issues early in the relationship is appalling. (And I mean plural your--yours and his.) What he did way way back then was cruel and selfish and not loving, at all. It's no wonder your self-esteem is in the toilet if you've been treated like this for 12 years.

You don't need to lose weight to please him. You need to see a therapist, work on your self-esteem, and then decide if you want to continue to not only put up with his crap, but cook, clean, and pay his bills. I really don't see what you're getting out of this relationship. He's mean to you. You do all the work.
posted by Mavri at 7:12 PM on August 10, 2010 [12 favorites]

Learn to love your body again -- at any weight. I have little doubt that you are lovable and desirable as you are, whatever your partner's moods and current predilections. Want to work the body? Hiking, gym time, whatever? Fine. Food issues? Worth examining, if you've got 'em. OA can be a real revelation for some folks (hint: it ain't a diet program). Need some new-friend-energy? Go for it, take a lover. But whatever you do, work toward finding delight in yourself. Trying to do it for someone else is a dead end. Get right with your body as it is. Don't fall into the well-baited trap of body-hate and self-loathing while you're doing it. You deserve better, and that's some pretty nasty shit there.

Sounds like you're already working toward an awareness of what you really want, and a willingness to own it, to admit it to yourself without shame. Outstanding. You'll be fine.
posted by Kinbote at 7:15 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

You don't give us any details about how fat you are, but... but if your husband is ignoring you for her (which he is, if he's having sex with her 4-5 times per week but can't do it at all and is making excuses for you) then he's just not that into you. Regardless of whether he tells you that the sex he has with her is any good, it's still happening far more often than it is with you. From what you've written here, he's not poly at all but likes having a helpmeet around the house that he emotionally committed to a long time ago, despite not being physically attracted to, and is getting his rocks off with someone else.

You say that you had issues with lubrication and making the sexy when you first got together - were these issues ever resolved? Cos if this has been carrying on for 12 years I'd be looking elsewhere too, sorry - I wouldn't stay with someone who is these things for 12 years unless they filled another role in my life, and if I was with someone who thought I was frigid, passive and quiet for 12 years I'd be either looking elsewhere, or closely examining my emotional baggage and technique to not be, if it could be helped and if I could get away from the emotionally damaging situation I found myself in (which is how I would categorise your situation).

He has been with you since he was 19 - that's really young, are you the same age? If this is the case I would assume you just got married way too young and you and he have grown on a path away from each other, and you should find someone who respects you for who you are, as long as you're happy and comfortable with yourself.
posted by goo at 7:16 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh god, this is heartbreaking. I knew exactly what you meant when you said you wanted to be a brain in a jar. Without going into a lot of detail here*, I have a very obvious birth defect that no amount of dieting or surgery or whatever would fix, and that apparently makes me unattractive to a wide swath of people. I spent a lot of time and relationships ("relationships") trying to prove my worth to some dude. I spent a lot of nights wishing I'd die in my sleep because I was sure no one would love me.

The insecurity is a black hole that will suck your whole life into it. You can never get enough reassurance from another person that you are wanted. You have to believe it yourself. I've been with my (very loving and faithful) husband for nearly six years, we don't have the additional complication of poly, we have sex on the regular, and I still have minor bouts of insecurity. But trying to keep up with what I imagine another person wants me to be is sheer insanity. You can lose your soul over something like this, even if you keep the guy. Even if you lose the weight, you're only going to get older, and you'll get gray hair and wrinkles and so forth. So he'll have other excuses if he wants them. You have to be strong enough to say "enough, this is the way that I am, take it or leave it."

I can't imagine staying in your situation, but perhaps you can't imagine leaving, so whichever you choose, please, please get counseling for yourself. You do not deserve to be treated that way by him, but more importantly, you don't deserve to treat yourself that way. Please find someone to talk to as quickly as you can, and if you can stay somewhere else for a bit that would be even better. Do not go down this road of insanity; I've already been there and I've come back to tell you that it is hell on earth.

If you want more detail feel free to memail me.
posted by desjardins at 7:16 PM on August 10, 2010 [32 favorites]

Don't lose weight for him. Lose him, and then if you want to, lose weight for yourself.

The others have it right; he sees you as his mommy. You fulfill his emotional needs, you prop him up when he's down, you sacrifice yourself to make him happy. And what do you get in return? He needs you - like a toddler needs his mommy. Honey, you can get that kind of relationship by getting yourself a puppy. You deserve better. You deserve someone with whom you can have an equal partnership; not a relationship where you give and he takes.

Let me repeat the most important part: You deserve better. You deserve someone who admires you for the good, unselfish, caring person that you are. You deserve someone who loves you because of who you are, not because of what you do for them.

This is what I'm seeing in your description: you give him unconditional love. In return, he gives you conditional love. And damned little of that.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]

Oh sweets, take it from another short, curvy person who has never-been-thin. It's not the weight that's the issue. Sometimes people throw out the word "fat" at their female partner because it is such a loaded term and protects them from having to have a honest conversation about what's really going on, or take responsibility for their feelings. When your husband says your fat, (despite that this was your body type when you met), and uses your weight as an excuse for his lack of intimacy-- it's a cop out. He'd prefer you to feel bad about yourself than treat you respectfully or see how you can get your needs met in this marriage, F*&K. THAT.

OTOH I fully support any efforts you undertake to eat right and get exercise in a way that works for you, because those things are good for YOU. It feels good. It boosts your mood and it's a way of showing self-love. You can do and feel all those things--and still be your curvy, wonderful self.

Being fat isn't the problem here. There's no reason to be in a relationship where you martyr yourself or give everything and get nothing in return. I agree with what others have said: you need to really examine your self esteem issues. You can't make someone want or desire you, that's just the way it is. If he isn't that person, there are plenty of people who can be. Trust me, I've been there. Memail me if you want to discuss that further.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 7:20 PM on August 10, 2010 [10 favorites]

Dude is taking the top half of you, the bottom half of her and making a Frankenstein wife. It's no damn fun being leftovers, and as others have said, this sure as hell isn't a loving poly relationship.

You've made it clear to him that you're not getting what you need, and his response to you is "lose some weight and we'll see." Bzzt, wrong answer. That is not what a loving, caring friend says. That is what an asshole says. And it's not some new asshole thing he's just started, it's the same old asshole from 12 years ago, still being dismissive and cruel.

Please leave this unkind, unpleasant, unloving jerk, he is ultimately undeserving of you.

Time to change your life, for the better.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:21 PM on August 10, 2010 [13 favorites]

Hello, former me. (Well, almost.)

My polyamorous husband went A YEAR without having sex with me. His half-his-age girlfriend didn't move in with us but was always around - because I was oh so evolved and wanted him to be happy so of course she was welcome and of course I would spend my money on takeout and movies and co-pays for Viagra (husband had no income at this time) so that at least 2/3 of us were having a good time. And then one day I just couldn't do it any more and threw his ass out. It took the girlfriend another three years to do the same.

Look, polyamoury is a great theory. I wanted so much for it to be true for me, that there was enough love for everyone and we could all be happy. But wanting it just wasn't enough when I was the only one paying attention to everyone else's needs.

I'm sorry; it sucks. MeMail me any time.
posted by shiny blue object at 7:26 PM on August 10, 2010 [10 favorites]

List of things for you to do:

1. Dump him and move out

2. Therapy to figure why you'd put up with such crap from him. You deserve better than this.
posted by nomadicink at 7:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

“well maybe if you lost some weight…” Those are the words of someone who's yanking your chain. He's framing his love as a little treat he holds up in the air like a Snausage to make you beg for it.

It's not about the weight. It's about your self-esteem. Which he has correctly judged to have a vulnerability in this area. He doesn't care about the weight; he's just digging his finger into that pre-existing bruise.

Breathtaking in its cruelty. You deserve so much better.
posted by ErikaB at 7:31 PM on August 10, 2010 [7 favorites]

It's not you...it's him. And it always HAS been him. Look at everything you wrote. I hear that you love him. And I hear that you really are doing fine with the polyamory thing --and for a change, I actually believe it. But LOOK at what you wrote. This man has been telling you it's you since you started. And you're STILL buying his line of crap that the problem is you!

>>I have clear and distinct memories of lying in bed, tears streaming down my face, as he laid out a litany of what was wrong with me. Too frigid, not affectionate enough, too passive, too quiet in bed, too fast, too ticklish… too too too.

Look at that background stuff. That man you fell in love with, by your own words--and I'll grant there's probably important bits that aren't in those cliff notes-- looked you in the eye and told you you weren't 'good' enough for him right at the very start. Put it all on you, from what you're saying, instead of making it an "us" problem and trying to help or adapt. Instead, he went out and found himself a series of honeys to entertain himself with.

This man as you've painted him, is selfish as Hell. And you can't believe selfish people when they say things are your fault: It's just something they do because they're selfish people.

>>He got a new girlfriend, a long distance thing with a girl in California. Their relationship was (is) amazingly rocky and dramatic, pretty much the opposite of ours.

THIS is the real problem. This right here. Not your curves, not being "frigid," not the current 4-times-a-day live-in dish that's highlighting your rejected status. You got a guy who likes "excitement". The excitement of new moves, the excitement of new bodies & new conquests, the excitement of having his girlfriend dating the same woman as him, the excitement of a dramatically bad relationship... He takes the cheap way out by throwing a dozen things at you to fix, but it's never going to fix it, because IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S HIM.

You've got to take out the mental eraser. You've got to blot out these horrible lies he's left in your head. Not being super-innovative or loud in bed does NOT equal boring: It equals normal. Not being red hot in lust does NOT equal frigid: It equals normal. Not being thin does NOT equal fat: It equals normal.

But that's where it still falls apart and you're still left crying and in pain: Because even though there's nothing 'wrong' with you...he doesn't want normal.

Salvage your soul by rejecting these lies. Pull them out by their twisted roots and hold on to who you are. You can get seriously screwed in the head trying to keep up with people who don't live by the standard of normal when that just isn't who you are at heart.

I don't know what you can do for the relationship.
posted by Ys at 7:34 PM on August 10, 2010 [7 favorites]

I’m 33 years old....we’ve been together for 12....lying in bed, tears streaming down my face, as he laid out a litany of what was wrong with me....The guy and I are polyamorous....He got a new girlfriend....Now she’s living with us....They have sex four or five times a week....I was just wanting intimacy too....And what he said was “well maybe if you lost some weight…”

This is one of the most HORRIFYING and painful questions I've ever seen on this site. I can't even think of one off the top of my head that has made me more angry and disgusted and HORRIFIED on behalf of the asker. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is HORRIBLE.

You don't deserve this. Good grief. You are not "too fat to fuck," you are TOO GOOD FOR THESE CREEPS. Nobody deserves this, no matter what your freaking BMI is. Good grief.

Argh. Okay, to try and scrounge up something resembling an answer to your problem, it sounds like you two have been together for pretty much your entire adult lives, and have no real idea of what constitutes a healthy adult relationship. In small words, this isn't it. This guy belittles you and makes you feel miserable. Sure, you "have loads in common, get along great," etc. but...in what sense are you this guy's WIFE, as opposed to "great roommate"?

Do you have other friends, outside of this HORRIFYING "relationship"? Have any of them offered any kind of perspective? Maybe a furrowed brow and an "Are you really okay with this?"

I'm rambling. Because I'm HORRIFIED. I'm sorry. I just, argh. You're being treated badly. The solution is not for you to "fix" yourself by losing weight or otherwise becoming what he tells you to become. The solution, I think, lies in extracting yourself from this mess and taking care of yourself.

So, stock AskMe answer of "try therapy, if not together then at least by yourself," but what I really want to tell you is GET OUT of this house. Good grief. You don't deserve this. No, really, you don't. NO YOU DON'T.
posted by Gator at 7:35 PM on August 10, 2010 [43 favorites]

Oh how awful. Your story makes me so sad. You have to protect yourself from this guy and the horrible things he says about you!
posted by salvia at 7:36 PM on August 10, 2010

I was in a long term relationship with a man wherein I became the mother figure. And yes, our sex life dried up into nothing.

I loved him. I still think he is a good person, with a beautiful soul.

Our breakup was hard. It sucked.

After about three weeks, I felt so good I could not even believe it. I was so glad to be shot of him.

I was surprised at myself, at the fact that I was SO MUCH HAPPIER without him. When I expressed this to a mutual friend, the friend replied, "Leta, you know that kid was just weighing you down."

So, yeah, OP, you need to lose weight. A whole dude's worth of weight.

posted by Leta at 7:39 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]

Nthing the idea that this is not a healthy polyamorous relationship. This is a fucked up emotionally toxic parody of polyamory. Count me on the DTMFA wagon.

Life is too short to be with people who treat you badly.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:44 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

I am also just wondering --- do you derive a large part of your self esteem from helping, giving, supporting, and sacrificing? Like when you think about why people might like you or want to be in your life, is that one of the big things or THE thing?

If you do go see that therapist, and this resonates with you, that might be something to bring up. And it has been my experience that people like that, who are "givers," attract "takers" like bees to a flower. (Or actually, not that they attract them more, but wind up in relationships with them more. Other people just don't sustain giving like that as much or as long, so the taker moves on early.)
posted by Ashley801 at 7:45 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

This is so awful. This isn't you, and it never has been. And this isn't polyamory. It's emotional abuse.

You love this man so much, and you can try and try and try, but there will never be anything you can do to make him love you back this way. You need to take care of yourself and not him. You need your own attention right now.

Please move out (but don't keep paying for the house--or else kick these two out) and get into therapy right away so you can start to figure out how friggin awesome you are except for this tiny problem where you are letting your husband treat you like shit.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:45 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous: "Feel free to let the OP know that she's got an inch of height on me and I've got an extra 100lbs on her and I'm not too fat to fuck."
posted by jessamyn at 7:49 PM on August 10, 2010 [36 favorites]

I honestly believe that we have something amazing and special between us, we care for each other, and we really fit with each other. We have loads in common, do lots of things together, get along, see eye to eye and can talk about *almost* anything.

You know these aren't bring-the-house-down relationship qualities, right? Because I can think of several coworkers over my adult professional life that I could say those things about. Those things are fun, but they're not like finding a unicorn in your bathtub.

Just my opinion, but to me there has to be a safe space for open self disclosure and true intimacy, and true emphathy and compassion for where the other persons is at, and best case scenario it can get done with a lot of laughs. What you are describing sounds me without value.

I don't see any of that here. When you get home, are you happy his car is in the driveway? Not being happy about that was my first clear sign hat I would leave my husband.

Those of us who've held on to crappy relationships longer than we should have are a memail away.You sound like a pretty cool person at a pretty good life point to make some changes. Best of luck to you.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:53 PM on August 10, 2010 [23 favorites]

I have to say something else too, sorry.

I think you should say fuck it to the whole thing and go out and find a guy who wants to tear your clothes off rabidly. I have no idea what you look like or how much you weigh, but I would stake my life on quite a few such guys being out there, and I think if this were to happen, suddenly you would see the past 12 years in a slightly different light.

Normally I cringe when I see people who are broken up about relationship problems being told that a lot of hot sex would make them feel better and could never have imagined doing it myself in a million years, but I guess there's a first time for everything.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:01 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

When my marriage fell apart (I was fat but even if I were a supermodel I couldn't compete with Smirnoff, Popov, Absolut, & Skyy)I outweighed you by nearly 50 pounds and I'm not much taller. And there were guys who wanted me then (!!). Don't lose weight for this ass. It's a smokescreen anyway. However, in my experience,taking time to figure out what you want, who you are, and where you're going THEN making an effort to be healthier & fitter will make you feel like a zillionaire and leave him looking like he got hit upside the head with the What The Fuck Stick. It's awesome. I recommend it.

However, you're beautiful now and talented and giving and creative and loving and YOU DESERVE FAR BETTER. Go find someone that appreciates the treasure you are even if that someone is in the mirror.
posted by pointystick at 8:04 PM on August 10, 2010

Argh I keep coming back to this thread. My next pony request will be for a "reach through intertubes and give asker a hug" button.

pickypicky said: you need to find a person to make you feel good and sexy.

No, no you don't, and you understand that on some level, because you don't want to run out and bang some random guy. No one makes you feel good and sexy. You can feel those things all by yourself. (No one makes you feel unsexy, either; you've allowed your husband to do that because you already believe it.) Going out and finding a guy to date/have sex with is just going to be throwing another rock into the endless abyss of insecurity and hoping it magically gets filled up. Even if he does and says all the right things, there will still be that tiny voice in your head wondering if your husband was right, if this new guy is just placating you, if maybe he's desperate or too nice to tell you what he really thinks. You'll be waiting for the other shoe to drop. What happens when new guy doesn't want to have sex one night, for whatever reason? That little voice is going to get a hell of a lot louder.

You need to LEARN how to tell that voice to STFU. You don't have this knowledge right now, or you would have used it already. You can get this in therapy... you cannot get it in someone else's bed. Again: been down that road.
posted by desjardins at 8:19 PM on August 10, 2010 [8 favorites]

This man sounds to me like he has significant mental health issues that are rubbing off on to you. If you share his sentiments about being together for ever and truly love the guy, I can't join the DTFMA crowd. Instead, I'd suggest you still "get away" from him in the form of a trial separation and, ideally, both go to counseling independently before attempting to restart the relationship at all. IMHO, you both have personal demons to exorcize before marriage counseling could work. He needs a chance to repent when the outcome is deadly serious (losing you permanently), rather than being able to jump into bed with someone else with your permission to cover up his worries.
posted by wackybrit at 8:20 PM on August 10, 2010

You can have so much better. Just loving yourself more would be better, but you really can have so much better. And you will. If you end this...thing - I can't call it marriage or relationship, I'm sorry, I can't, what you have here is like a torture chamber that reminds of me of so many bad things and all in one place, my gods you have to quit telling yourself you should be putting up with this horrific nightmare - if you end this thing, you can have so much more than you are allowing yourself to have right now.

For your sanity, for the sake of the person trapped in this cage who deserves to be loved and honoured, please consider making this stop by walking away.

At very minimum, at the least, you really need a reality check, and I don't mean that in a shitty, judgmental way. This is never going to ever make sense or be good for you or become pleasurable. He's not ever going to appreciate you for who you are and what you have given him. It doesn't matter what you see in him. It doesn't matter what the two of you have grown through. You are holding yourself hostage in a state of misery, willingly allowing yourself to be neglected and mistreated (I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound sensationalist, and I'm sure it might be a surprise to you, but most people find this type of treatment of another human being shocking and frightening, and it shouldn't seem normal or acceptable to you, either), and it's so important that you begin to see this. You have to save yourself while there's still YOU to save. Read back through this and see how much of your personal self, your drive, your spark has been sublimated in this dance for this...man's (I don't know...I just don't know...) attention and respect. Which you're never going to get. Which he holds above your head like some kind of sick pet treat then jerks away after you've gone so far as to become his servant and confidante after being fired as his lover and beloved.

The words provided by all of the people in this thread who want to see you in a healthier place, loving yourself and being loved properly by someone who sees the worth - the inherent, gleaming worth - of having your heart open to them may not be enough. Neither the tough love nor the gentle encouragement. But let it in. Please let yourself see how you're allowing yourself to be abused (yes, abused) and taken advantage of and, at minimum, find a counselor who can hear you out on this topic and help you to see the bars of this cage more clearly.

I've been through what you've been through, albeit spread across several relationships as it took me a while to unlearn the pattern I kept repeating. I know the heartbreak, the wasted conviction, the useless devotion, the plaintive and keening tone of the constantly breaking heart. I believe I know some of what you've felt and are feeling. And I'm telling you, you sweet and beautiful human being, you deserve better and should not stay in this situation.

Save yourself. You're worth it.

And here's the other part (I know, long already): there are manymanymany non-creepy, gorgeous, tender, creative, loving, successful men (and women, since it seems that might be a possibility) out there who would adore the opportunity to be close to you. I'm not saying they're going to turn up your doorstep immediately (and shouldn't be anywhere near your door until you've got your head more clear and heart more healed, really), but they're out there and they will desire you, with the curves being a big, sexy plus in addition to all your other gifts. Really.

Re-learn to love and cherish yourself first, though, okay? Because there isn't anyone else out there who can fix that part, and until it's fixed, those patterns are always going to repeat themselves at some point.

I hope you'll forgive any projection or over-familiarity. It just kills me to see another person feel this way. I would never wish this self-humiliation and suffering on any other person.

Strength & clarity to you.
posted by batmonkey at 8:20 PM on August 10, 2010 [14 favorites]

I don’t know HOW to take this well. Do I transform it into a driving need to be… well, from my perspective, more shallow?

You don't have to take it well. Okay, more strongly: Do not take it well. There are little hints of bitterness mixed in there with your efforts to be fair to him. Listen to that anger, because it is right and just. Pay attention to how unhappy you are at even thinking of doing something like losing weight for him. Don't lose weight for him; you've given up enough of your own happiness as it is. You seem like a really nice person, so you probably don't want to be openly mad at him or be the source of any unpleasantness. Given what you've told him about us, though--he deserves your anger. You have done more than your part here, taking care of him, giving him the benefit of the doubt, trying to fix the mess he's made of your life together on your own. He brought these women into your life, and you were more than happy to try to make things work even though it was hard on you. And what does he do in return? Not much at all, and when that fails--he gives you this half-hearted maybe if you were skinnier crap instead of making a genuine effort to make the relationship work and help you get what you need. Seriously, he didn't even touch you when he tried to have sex with you? That is not even close to trying, especially when what you want is intimacy (lots of touching and affection). You are allowed to be upset, and to be vocal about your needs. You don't have to smooth this over. Show him that his actions have consequences and remind him that you require consideration. He is selfish--he won't make an effort to change unless there's something in it for him. If you don't want to do this (and I don't blame you, nobody should have to teach their partner how to be loving), it is okay to leave.

I'm really sorry that you're in this situation. You obviously love him very much. I wish he deserved it.
posted by millions of peaches at 8:21 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of the most earthshaking things I ever learned in therapy: think of someone you love and want to protect: a sibling, a best friend, a lover. Consider the hurtful things that were said to you; think of them being said to the person about whom you feel protective. Would you let anyone say these things to someone you love? No way, they're awful! They're designed to be hurtful, not to be constructive.

(And the corollary, too: the things *I* said to me/thought about myself, even I wouldn't let anyone else say to me. I spent about a week in shock when I realized that one.)

Are you letting him say things to you that you would never let anyone say to someone that you love? Are you in turn convincing yourself of horribly hurtful things, saying to yourself things that you'd never let anyone say to someone that you love?

Don't you deserve that love too?

(Of course you do.)
posted by galadriel at 8:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [20 favorites]

“well maybe if you lost some weight…” Those are the words of someone who's yanking your chain. He's framing his love as a little treat he holds up in the air like a Snausage to make you beg for it.

If this is true, send him packing. But make sure it is true first, we are just guessing.

From the OP: "I'm 5'3" and 230 pounds"

Sounds pretty normal to me, not that my opinion is at all relevant. I hated to ask; but I had to make sure we were dealing with a rational person.

Your answer just proves your husband is probably being more hurtful than honest. That's not to say that makes him an instant loser- he might be having some kind of existential crisis and it couldn't hurt to sort of poke him a little and see if he changes his tune. Can't hurt to try to open the lines of communication a little and maybe do some relationship repairs.
posted by gjc at 8:40 PM on August 10, 2010

I know everyone else has said the same thing, and at this point, I'm just another voice in the chorus, but this question has me near tears.

This guy? Not for you. You should take some time to get to know and love yourself, away from this COMPLETE AND UTTER JERK!! (sorry I had to)

You absolutely deserve much, much better. Your weight has nothing to do with it. If it wasn't that, it would be something else. He knows your insecurities and uses them against you. That is about as far from love as I can imagine.

I've never said it in here before but DTMFA!!!! It'll suck to be alone at first, but honestly, it'll probably suck a lot less than the hell you're living through right now.

It can't be said enough: You are worth SO MUCH MORE than this.
posted by inmediasres at 8:45 PM on August 10, 2010

You are being severely taken advantage of. You're a beautiful person and you deserve to be loved and appreciated in a mutually satisfying relationship. Do you want to spend the next 30 or 40 years feeling this way? No. Stop setting yourself for this torture. You know what you need to do. Stop taking care of people who don't want to take care of you and start taking care of yourself. Then you can find someone who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. You are a caring, giving, wonderful woman who is a prize waiting to be found by someone who knows what is important in this world. I wish you the best, you certainly deserve it.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:59 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

last night I finally talked to my husband about why we weren’t having sex. Like, at all. Turns out it’s because I’m fat. How do I get over the pain of this revelation and what should I do about this mess I find myself in, emotionally?

See, I really don't think it's because of your size. I just don't. I think nadawi hit the nail on the head. It sounds like your husband doesn't accept any responsibility for anything unsatisfactory that happens to him. And it sounds like you've internalized the criticism and come to believe it is the cause and the explanation for your current unhappy situation. It doesn't matter, really, what size you are. It does matter what is going on in your head, and the first step I think is spending sometime just loving yourself.

At this point, he's shown you what his pattern is. You have to decide if you can live with it or not. (I am not suggesting that you should.) 33 is young. You have many years ahead of you, and trust us, feeling lonely in a marriage is not the way it's supposed to be, and you deserve better. But it's not enough for the AskMe chorus to tell you that; you have to come to believe that you deserve better for yourself, and therapy can help you get there.
posted by ambrosia at 9:04 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

If one more voice in the chorus will make a difference, here it is. Your weight is not the problem. My husband doesn't love his belly, but I do. Because it's part of him.

This man may think he loves you, but you are not receiving love. You are receiving degradation. When you are out of this hell, and you experience what love feels like, a whole new world will open up.

It may be possible for this man to love you. I doubt it. But in any case, girlfriend needs to be out of your home. Husband may need to go as well. Even if you're not ready to do that, you need to reconnect with your strength. Call your mom. Get to therapy. Get out of this. You are worth so much more.
posted by freshwater at 9:07 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

instead of making it an "us" problem and trying to help or adapt....

I want to focus on this. Lack of sex is an "us" problem -- it's something that the two of you, together, have to confront. But, instead, he's framed it as a "you" problem -- you're the one with the weight, and so he's put all responsibility on you to fix it.

By changing the "us" problem to a "you" problem, not only has he made you feel bad, he's also completely changed the topic away from him. Did you continue to prod him about your sex life after he said that? No. You got horrifically sad, and he had to work to make you feel better, but he no longer had to confront the sex problem. That's a total win for him: not only did he get to avoid responsibility, he also got to avoid guilt for the lack of sex, and he got to stop talking about his lack of libido in general.

It's a tactic, and it's a pretty gross one. It's one that people use all the time: "We're really tight on money this month, so we have to make a budget, "Well, YOU have too much debt!" Suddenly, the conversation is off the budget and is instead focused on Person 2's debt. Bait and switch.

Is your husband a bad person for responding this way? Naw (I don't know him, so I won't say anything about his apparent qualities as a person). It's a defense mechanism -- I've used it, my SO's used it, most people do at some point or another. However, it's not a useful means of communication. It's immature. It's hurtful. It turns an issue that needs teamwork to be resolved into a blame-game.

My point is, from everything you say, it appears as though your weight matters for your sex life in this one (and ONLY) way: he used it as an excuse to avoid having to deal with his lack of interest in you. He threw your weight in your face specifically to keep from having to admit he has a problem.

If you want to make things work with this guy, you're going to have to find a better way to communicate with him. But he's going to have to want to communicate, too. Again, both communication and sex are "us" problems, and the both of you need to be willing to treat them as such.

I'm sorry you feel so horrible. I'm sorry you're going through this horrible ordeal. But, given that I'm the exact same weight and almost the exact same height as you, I am perfectly qualified to say: you are definitely not too fat to be sexy.
posted by meese at 9:19 PM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]

I know tons of chicks fatter than you that get laid frequently, all the time. IT CAN BE DONE. Find someone who you do it for, instead of going anorexic and getting buttloads of surgery for this guy.

For whatever reason, weight or not, you just don't turn this guy's crank sexually, and he's being a jerk to you about it. Time to end it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:24 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

If I knew you, I would be over at your house packing your shit for you RIGHT NOW.

You need to immediately get your finances in order and run don't walk out of this fucked up situation. Like someone upstream said, you won't even believe how good you feel after you get over the initial shock. You are better than this. Don't let him tell you this bullshit. You are better BETTER BETTER than this. Believe in yourself and take care of yourself by getting yourself OUT OF THIS RELATIONSHIP.

I don't normally talk in all caps but shit, girl, you need someone to drag you out of there. Where are your friends? I'm pissed at these imaginary people for letting you live like this! Fuck this guy and when I say fuck him I mean fuck up his nose with a frying pan!
posted by Foam Pants at 9:26 PM on August 10, 2010 [8 favorites]

Mod note: From the OP:
I didn't think I would want or need to continue the discussion beyond the question itself, but life seems to be full of surprises today. I made a gmail account: vatted.brain@gmail.com. If you could please update the thread with this contact information so that any who are inclined can get in touch with me in a different environment, I would appreciate it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:32 PM on August 10, 2010

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous:
"One of the most earthshaking things I ever learned in therapy: think of someone you love and want to protect: a sibling, a best friend, a lover. Consider the hurtful things that were said to you; think of them being said to the person about whom you feel protective. Would you let anyone say these things to someone you love? No way, they're awful! They're designed to be hurtful, not to be constructive."

Even more importantly, are you talking to YOURSELF more harshly than you would to other people? If so, DON'T. You are clearly a beautiful, caring, giving person.

"From the OP: 'I'm 5'3" and 230 pounds'"

No judgment here, but you do fall into the "obese" category on the BMI index, and if you've put on a significant amount of weight since you and your husband got together, his desire for you may have taken a hit. It's happened to me. (Both ways, actually: when I got skinnier, one BF was hotter for me; one, later on, loved it when I was packing an extra 20 pounds.) Some people are more attracted -- physically, chemically, whatever -- to people of certain body types or physical characteristics. Personally, I don't think that those things should be the most important -- but they are important, for whatever reason, to a percentage of the human beings on this planet.

I'm also not saying lose weight for this guy -- because I ABSOLUTELY believe that there is a man out there who will love and appreciate you for who you are, at your essence, and, moreover, ADORE those curves -- but I think it's important to consider the possibility that your weight gain has had an effect on your husband's desire for you when trying to get a rounded view the big picture. Best of luck to you.
posted by jessamyn at 9:33 PM on August 10, 2010

Oh my god. Please do every woman on the planet a favor and dump this jerk. He is awful and you don't need him.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

I agree with most of what's been said.

You are not "too fat to fuck," you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about, and your anger, hurt feelings, frustration and resentment are all 100% justified. If what you were looking to get from Ask MeFi was the comfort, support and validation you needed to to dumpt the motherfucker already, than I think that's exactly what you should do.

But I think that's just half of the advice you should be getting. I think the people who are telling you that your marriage is unsalvageable and I would have liked to see our fellow mefites be equally supportive and less judgemental should your preference be to try, among other things, losing some weight, and seeing if you and your husband's sex life does indeed improve.

While your husband should certainly been more sensitive and considerate of your feelings in how he put it, the fact is, you asked him what you could do to get more sexual attention from him, and he gave you an answer. Is he shallow for losing his attraction to you when you're overweight? Possibly, sure -- but he's still miles ahead of a lot of guys out there who won't even give a plus-sized girl the time of day.

Now, assuming for the moment that losing weight for your husband is something you're even interested in doing, the trick is finding a way of going about it that doesn't feel demeaning to you. Is there anything he could do to make himself a bit sexier to you? Maybe you want him to do some... "manscaping" as they say. Or maybe, if you'd find him hotter if he were a bit more buff, you guys could hit the gym together, or join a squash club or take yoga classes.

Also, I think it would make sense to talk to him about putting the polyamory on hold while you guys work on your own sex life. Feelings have been hurt enough already. Maybe you'd both feel better if you guys put the focus back exclusively on each other for a while.
posted by patnasty at 10:26 PM on August 10, 2010

The obvious things that jump out: your relationship seems to have a long history of sexual disconnect that has never really been well resolved. Once upon a time he had a laundry list of things that were wrong with you, now he's got a one item "maybe" list that honestly sounds more like (as you describe it) a justification pulled quickly out of thin air rather than a real substantive contribution to your request that he engage with the real problem of your not being sexually satisfied in your relationship. And it never has anything to do with him. Hmm. Whether you need/want/are able to lose weight is a whole other question but it seems really obvious to me that this is not really the central issue.

Second, obviously you haven't given us your whole history but your open relationship seems remarkably one-sided. Maybe you should look for someone on the side who wants you 5 times a week, plenty of us chubby chasers out there.

But bottom line is if it's going to work with him he's going to have to be willing to give a whole lot more than he is and pick up his half of the problems, not just put it all on you.
posted by nanojath at 10:34 PM on August 10, 2010

This relationship is so fucking toxic. DTMFA right now. And find a guy who isn't a dick.
posted by paultopia at 10:50 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

You've been taking care of this guy since he was 19? In my book that probably means he has never taken care of himself. He's a manipulator and a taker. You call this polyamory but you are giving all the amour and getting none. You're 33 and in five years you'll be 38 and he'll still not be an adult. Taking care of him five additional years and swallowing this poison every day is going to make you very sick.

If advice works at all, I add my voice to that of every single person on this thread: It is not you. Please seriously consider getting out while you can still get your head straight and take care of yourself and learn to stop being attracted to the takers of this world.

Believe me there are lovely men out there that really adore curvy women. Learn that you are a complete and lovely person who deserves a lover who tries just as hard to please you as you try to please him.

Give to the givers, sweet girl. Don't invest your whole doggone life in the takers.
posted by Anitanola at 11:35 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]

What's awesome is that you brought up this sex situation to him in the first place. I think that's really great!

It sucks that his response was just to blame it on you (uh, like he did before). Based on other facts, I think that's just an excuse. It seems to me that he has some kind of intimacy issue going. I won't go into my theory, since what causes change is not understanding people's issues but (lovingly) refusing to put up with them. So, I'd do a few things:
1) let him know it's not at all cool to blame you; let him know his words hurt you and that you are not going to let that happen to yourself any more
2) continue to encourage that the two of you address your intimacy issues, in couples counseling if possible
3) protect yourself from further hurtful statements from him
4) work on your self-esteem issues, in therapy if possible

I put #3 before #4 and want to emphasize how important this is. Some people here have pointed out that your self-esteem is key, and it is. But that is going to take some healing, and part of healing is protecting yourself from further injury. It's like putting a cast on a broken arm. And really, it is easier to say "hey, don't talk to me like that" to someone else than to change your own deep-down feelings. Even the people I know who have done extreme amounts of personal work to overcome deep-seated issues like self-image still are the first to admit that it's an issue that recurs sometimes. It's up to the people who love you to help, not hurt, in those areas of sensitivity. In closing, you've already taken a step along the right track. Good luck.
posted by salvia at 11:54 PM on August 10, 2010

P.S. It's kind of a self-help-book truism that when you start taking positive steps to challenge ingrained badness in a relationship, that the other people can react harshly to try to get you to change back. (Harriet Lerner is the author I've read on this.) So, to me, his attack on you is almost a signal that you're on the right track and addressing core issues. (It's also a signal that he'd rather hurt you than face pressure to have more intimacy, but you never know what could happen if you persevere.) You two established a certain pattern way back when, in that first round of crying, and it's amazingly awesome that you've decided to start challenging that and asking for what you need.

P.P.S. I think he has intimacy issues because when he's not dating you (someone he established a non-intimate pattern with early on), he's dating someone from another state, who criticizes and fights with him. It's easy to want her, because she rejects him, no risk of intimacy. So, my theory is that he just talked about your weight to distract from the real core issue.
posted by salvia at 12:18 AM on August 11, 2010

The first Mr. F told me I was unfuckable unless I was bringing in a steady paycheck. The second Mr. F doesn't put income restrictions on the conjugal bed, which is one of a trillion reasons why he has been the man for the last six years.

I was in roughly the same shoes as your husband's GF when I was younger and dumber, too, though-- and it is also a nasty, demeaning thing to go through. She probably doesn't realize that, but she will someday down the road. I am over a decade out of that situation and it's still disturbing to recall. My ex was not a well man, and his marriage was not stable, and he delighted in the hurt the poly experiment inflicted all around. Your husband is, hopefully, not willfully malicious, nor seriously disturbed, but you mustn't suffer his bullshit any longer than it takes you to formulate an exit strategy.

I'm really sorry, OP.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:45 AM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

I wish I wanted to punch him in the face, but all my energy is sapped by my heart just breaking for you.

There's a massive amount of wrong in the history you've given us, but let me just put it this way: imagine the implausible, that life would be perfect if you only lost 5/35/275 pounds.

First off, that's ridiculous, and you really, really don't have to put up with it. Seriously. A person who cares about you will care about you through much worse than that.

Second off, a loving partner would have expressed something way more supportive than that a long time ago, as your sex life became less good.

Third off, if you decide you want to lose weight, lose weight. Hooray, fun times, I've done it too. But not because I was browbeaten into it. Maybe it's a worthwhile goal to you, maybe it's not. I hope you don't allow anyone to manipulate you into something like that, which is only rewarding if it's an individual choice.

Finally, on top of how poorly you've been treated, in word and deed, it's heartbreaking to me that you think that it might all make sense somehow. I hope this thread can help convince you that it really, really doesn't.

Regardless of what you conclude about how to handle this relationship, you really, really do not deserve this. Maybe he hasn't been thinking about you in the right way, and a few very difficult conversations can help bring you back together. Maybe he's just as appealing but appalling a person as many on this thread would guess, who will always attack you, and who you need to walk away from. But man, it really seems to me like the first thing to keep in mind is: you just don't deserve what has been thrown at you in this relationship. This isn't something you need to come to terms with, it's something that you deserve to have fixed-- whether by him changing his words and actions, or you kicking him out. (And all I've addressed is the body image issue! To say nothing of the other woman involved in the mix!).
posted by ibmcginty at 1:00 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

your relationship has many, many more problems than your sex life. you need to get out of this relationship and find someone else. now.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:01 AM on August 11, 2010

He was devastated. He thought she ought to be attracted to him for who he was.

Sauce, goose, gander.

No kids?

posted by flabdablet at 1:29 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

You are experiencing that phenomenon where you "identify with your captor". Get away and into the company of people you lift you up instead of tear you down...(I know you think you love him "intensely"--but face it...he doesn't respect you at all. not at all. zero). You deserve soooooooooo much better.
posted by naplesyellow at 1:51 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Therapy. Then maybe some therapy. After that some THERAPY. Keep doing the tHeRaPy.
posted by watercarrier at 2:02 AM on August 11, 2010

Let me tell you the cold, hard, objective trut: The reason you aren't having sex is NOT because you're fat.

And your husband knows it. He's lying to you; not because he has good intentions, either. This is not a scenario where he himself doesn't know why your sex life is on the rocks, and he is honestly trying to solve the problem by sharing his best guess with you in the hope of finding a constructive solution, even though it may sound harsh.

This is NOT what is going on in his head: "Well, I know it would hurt her to hear the truth, but I have to tell her the truth in the hopes that we can fix our sex life."


There is something very insidious about jerks like this that you're about to find out, and it's not pleasant. They KNOW women are insecure about their looks. They are well aware that we live in a society that promotes unrealistic standards of phsyical beauty and hosits shame onto women. They know it and they USE it.

He's plenty attracted to you. You are plenty doable. He could definitely have sex with you, weight and all, if he wanted to.

He doesn't want you to know this. And you know why? Because he's consciously lying to you in order to tear down your self-esteem so you'll stay with him. And since it sounds like you're at least pretty well aware of what a completely ridiculously nice and self-sacrificing person you are, he's going for the one spot in your psyche that you're unsure about: your looks. And he's winning. He's USING all that crap advertising and judgement in the media against you, knowing full well that's not the real issue, because it keeps you right where he wants you.

Sounds like a real charmer, huh?
posted by Nixy at 2:50 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

The important stuff has been addressed, but in case someone inexperienced is reading,

anonymous the fact that I couldn’t really get my body to do what I wanted it to do - even when my mind was really into it, I just couldn’t get wet - made him feel rejected.

A woman's wetness or lack thereof during sex isn't a reliable indicator of how turned on she is. It's affected by hormonal levels, birth control, other medication, time spent on foreplay, hydration, alcohol/caffeine, condoms, differences between individual women, and can vary by the day, month, or year.

Lube is a great thing. Use joyously and use as often as needed. (But as a fun add-on, not as a substitute for foreplay and stimulation.)
posted by hat at 2:54 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

G'ah, this post and the amazing comments made me get up out of bed early on my day off just to comment.

First, I'm so glad so many people have taken the time to say something. Hopefully the drove of comments all saying pretty much the same thing will help you realize a change is in order, regarding him and not you so much.

I had a relationship that sounds vaguely familiar, and frankly is related to what's been vaguely and not-so-vaguely referenced in other comments, that sort of contemporary "please your man at the expense of your own needs and desires" thing that's still with us and seems to especially plague ladies in their 20s.

As others have said, the weight is a smokescreen, there is a much deeper issue at play here. My toxic relationship spanned 6 years and started at the same age for me as yours did. I was 5'2 and 110 pounds, all leg and lean long arms, size 4. I was more conventionally attractive then than I am now (I'm 28 and have gone up many, many sizes since then) but hated my body and myself viciously (you worded it perfectly, the brain in the jar thing...most days I defaulted to going about like I WAS just a brain in a jar, shoving the idea I lived in a body at all down so I wouldn't think about it, tried not to feel anything physically because it just complicated things). It was partly because of this insistent voice in my head that what my boyfriend thought of me physically was all that mattered. I was deeply in love with him too for reasons you describe--we shared activities and a life together, could talk intimately about so many things, felt twinned intellectually and emotionally. And yet. Not on purpose I'm sure, but he wreaked havoc on my body image because he wasn't that into me physically. And he did the litany, oh man, the litany. All the little ways he'd be more into me, both in appearance changes and my sexual demeanor and behavior. The way he would shut down emotionally (take it as personal criticism, I guess) if I needed any sort of consideration (the lubrication thing--YES! I remember that, ugh) or sensitivity on his part, pretty much if I wasn't just a sex doll ready to go at the drop of a hat with no give and take or communication. Our sex life was never great and dried up pretty immediately once we lived together.

Leaving him was out of the question to me, but at the same time I felt unwanted and disgusting and I loathed myself on some level every day. It became this grueling conditioned feedback behavior where the less he wanted me the more it'd eat away at me and make me nervous and more of a wreck, making me even more undesirable I guess. I would try to have a personality I thought he'd want even though it wasn't me. I wasted all this time obsessing about my figure and my underwear and what I said and ugh. I let him say shitty things to me that were always couched as "well, if you really want our relationship to work, you need to..." and the "need to" always amounted to "not be who you are." I wasn't right for him but I was so preoccupied with that that I didn't have any time leftover to consider he wasn't right for me either.

I want to say I got my head screwed back on straight, but I didn't--eventually he just left me (it was horrendously ugly), but everything people have said upthread about how shockingly good you feel a few weeks, a month, a year later suddenly was so, so true. I thought my world and my life was completely fucking over (I'd moved across the country to be with this guy, my family and my friends were all far away and I was living with my ex's social circle as roommates, and to boot, my exit plan for leaving the state via grad school fellowship had gone kablooey about a month earlier), but then bizarrely everything became awesome so fast it made my head spin. A weight lifted and I started to get to know people who didn't make me feel like shit and it was really weird at first, how quickly I felt so much better.

Soon after I got to know (and eventually married) a man who loves every part of me, and I started to like my body even as, ironically, it started aging and I gained weight and dressed less hot or whatever. I feel sexier than I ever did in my youth. I was always sexually shy too, and that got much better once I started having sex with someone who loved being with me as much as I did them. Turns out I was shy before because duh, if I did say anything it got shot down or taken personally or whatever, so I learned never to say anything or do anything in bed. Now I can, and it's great. I feel comfortable here now, and that feeling is worth so much. I look back and want to cry at how badly I treated my body back then, I want to apologize to it. And I hate the years I wasted treating it like a stone around my neck when it's actually great, once you can live fully present in it and feel everything.

You can get to this point, you just need to get out first, and therapy or a slow realization on your own with good people will help. And desjardins is spot on that it can't really come from just somehow once and for all "winning" on the endless treadmill/hamster wheel of trying to satisfy somebody. Because you will never win, and you will waste your life focusing on how to do that than seeing the bigger picture of living your life well, for the sake of yourself.

I also was friends with a guy from college for a while based strictly on our mutual love of board game playing late into the night, and saw him act a lot like your guy here. Sexually selfish to a flabbergasting level. When I met him, his girlfriend had an eating disorder and he made a point to show a bunch of his friends a nude photo of her for no reason but to point and gawk (I almost dumped him as a friend right then and there; I probably should've). Years later we reconnect on Facebook and I discover he's pulling this exact same faux-polyamory bullshit on a new poor girl who seems built very much like you (very curvy in the femmy way)--she's his emotional support while he has drama-addled torrid affairs with other women, and he makes her cry and is pretty much leveraging the fact her self-esteem is shit and she's in love and emotionally bound to him and can't imagine him leaving to make her agree to this faux-poly arrangement. When he told me about it and I saw the situation I was so fed up I just haven't talked to him since. This thing where self-absorbed folks who can't handle anything ever being an issue THEY need to look at, work on themselves detract attention from that by preying on people whose self-esteem they can destroy makes me sick when I see it. Sometimes they don't know that's what they're doing--but it's still fucked up, and a lot of times it means they never change and grow into adulthood.

And as others too have mentioned--I have more than one good friend who weighs more than you and enjoying a loving, mutually supportive relationship with partners who find them the cat's meow. Once again: the weight is a smokescreen. It's more a matter of there being people who have healthy ways of approaching relationships and people who don't, and not wasting your life with the latter. When you're in it, you assume it's just the way everyone is, that romantic life is that involved and grueling. When you get out, you can't believe how much energy and time it wastes when you should be getting on with enjoying and living a full life.
posted by ifjuly at 6:42 AM on August 11, 2010 [18 favorites]

I am in a weird and wonderful poly relationship of 16 years that works for both of us. You, my dear, are not. Don't get me wrong, we've had issues, but I love what I'm getting and he loves what he's getting 99% of the time.


Let me repeat.


It is because he is taking you for granted and he has to stop that shit ASAP. No matter how much you love him, if he is not being your partner, you are not having your needs met and loving him more, doing more things for him, is not going to get you love -- it is going to get you disappointed.

Whether you choose to leave him physically or not, the change needs to be in your court. Put your shoulders back, stand up straight and start looking out for #1. Take a class or 3. Do something you love. Start working on a project that takes you out of your head. Spend one night (minimum) a week on dating yourself, whether that means a mani/pedi or a night at Border's reading magazines. You should not be at his beck and call anymore.

Please DO feel free to memail me or email at soqueer at gmail.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:21 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Whilst a lot of people have indicated that your weight isn't the issue here, I feel that I should point out that your BMI is 40.6 and that anything over 40 is classed as "morbidly obese".

If you do not start to address your weight issue, then you run the risk of osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.

Once you've sorted out the situation with your husband (there is plenty of good advice in this thread), I would recommend talking to your doctor on diets which can help reduce your body weight closer to the recommended 60kg for your height.
posted by mr_silver at 7:39 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Good God, this is tragic. It's a strange thing to tell you right now, but this was wonderfully written. This could be a book. A good one. Or at least a nice long story in a magazine. I'm male and monoamorous and standard sized and I feel like I'm looking out through your wounded heart and spinning around in your tornado head. What a messed up situation. Your hurt is so palpable.

I wrote a novella in response to the many things going on here in terms of self acceptance vs. self improvement, internal vs. external locus of worth, losing weight for the right reasons, dating outside the marriage or not, tossing that homewrecker out on her ear or not, staying polyamorous or not, a bit of armchair Freud, listing action steps, discussing possibilities. And then I rewrote it and rewrote it some more. But this thing is an onion and I can't seem to get down through all the layers. There are so many complicating and interconnected variables. Others here have already made some of my points much more efficiently, so I'll spare you.

But the main snag is being a monoamorist and trying to place myself within a polyamory-is-OK framework and give advice. It's like waking up in another country where nothing makes sense and then trying to find my way around. I get it that it works for some people but it sure doesn't sound like it works for you despite your philosophical support for it. I just can't get around that point. Just to check the scorecard, you've had two polyamorous phases in your marriage, both of which have been centered around him, both of which have been disasters that have poisoned you, both of which have made you feel like shit and have chopped down your self worth. I hate to plagiarize, but how's that working out for you? Because it sounds like a trainwreck.

You've asked us how to reconcile the shame you feel over being the fat girl losing weight to keep her man. I think that others here have already given you the primary answer that you need, and that's that the premise of your question is flawed. You're asking us how to reconcile this and how to be OK with it and everyone's saying don't try to be OK with it because it's not OK; it's toxic. What you need to be doing is trying to repair your relationship with your husband, or maybe making whole what has never been whole - - it sounds like you've been sexually incompatible since you first got together (enumeration of faults, crying, etc.) and that it has only gotten worse since then. You have to take steps to try to make your relationship work on all fronts. And if it doesn't work, you have to get out. Because what's the alternative? Feeling rejected and lonely and ugly and unworthy and unsatisfied for the rest of your life? That's what you're going to get if things stay as they are, and it doesn't sound like losing weight will do anything since he didn't want you even back before the weight gain and since he has an easy fuck right there in the house. "Not very good sex" four or five times a week, every week, eh? While you keep house and prepare special meals for her? Nonjudgment... slipping...

You have to get a commitment from your husband to work on this together. If you can't get even that, then you'll have your answer early. If you can, then you need an environment in which that work can have a chance. And that means your squatter has to go. If you and your husband can repair your base and get things working and then you want to resume your polyamorous ways in the future in a healthy way, great. But I don't think you have a chance with someone else in the picture who fills the need you're desperately trying to fill but can't.

I can understand all the people saying DTMFA, but when you have "intense" love for someone, you'll never leave at DTMFA speed. If you leave, it'll be after gradually heading in that direction after deliberate major rescue steps have been taken and have not worked. So saying DTMFA is not really an answer you can use from where you are right now. Take steps. Start tonight. State what you need out of the marriage, get a commitment, try marriage counseling, try sex therapy, try whatever. But get started. Losing weight along the way is something that will help you irrespective of anything else, so try that too, but don't tie your worth to it and don't tie your relationship to it. Good luck.
posted by kookoobirdz at 7:51 AM on August 11, 2010 [6 favorites]

I slept on it and I'm still horrified, but I would just like to reiterate (a little more calmly this time): You have been with this guy for your entire adult life. This is all you know. You don't know what normal and healthy is, because THIS is what you're used to. You think this is what love and polyamory is, because THIS is what you've been living with for over a decade.

My previous question about whether you have other friends was serious (and on a sidenote, I'm starting to wonder this about all the other unfortunate AskMe relationship questions we get). Isn't there anyone in your life who sees what you're going through and has expressed concern? If so, do you dismiss their concerns because they "don't get" poly relationships? (Hint: Neither do you.) If not, if you are truly isolated (maybe out of some sense of "HE'S all I've ever needed"? I kind of get that vibe from you), I urge you to get out there and start socializing with other people. Not "poly-friendly communities" or anything having to do with polyamory or relationships. Join a book club or take up roller derby or something, and NOT for the purpose of dating, but for the purpose of making some new friends. If you had some honest-to-God real life friends who cared about you, they'd want to see you stop hurting.

Speaking of which, someone once said, "Love seeks the good of the beloved." Someone who loves you will want to take steps to give you happiness. That does not entail sucking down all that you have to give and refusing to attend to your needs, but will "stay with you even if you never had sex again." (GAAAAAAAAAH.)
posted by Gator at 8:04 AM on August 11, 2010 [8 favorites]

It is not okay to be hurtful toward someone just because you think they’re fat. It is not okay to make someone cry just because you think they’re too passive or whatever in the bedroom.

He is treating you horribly and then rationalizing his wretched actions & words by blaming you! This is not love.

And he has been doing this since the beginning….so it is likely he will do it until the bitter end.

You do not deserve to be treated this way.

If he loved you, it would tear him apart to see you unhappy (enough to cry streams!) from something he has done/said. He would be just as concerned about your feelings/needs/desires as his own. (Geez-oh-pete! You love him and you’re willing to cook for his live-in girlfriend! Gaa! But this man seems totally unconcerned with how lonely & unhappy he has made you. Why is that acceptable?)

Loosing weight will not turn him into a loving, considerate husband. He’ll just make-up another “flaw” for you to change about yourself.

I know you love him and want him back, but I hope you will think about the wise things that have been said in this thread. Please consider talking to someone. And, for goodness sake, go do something that you love, something that is separate from taking care of your husband & his girlfriend. It sounds like you’ve been encased in misery for years. Do you remember what happy (separate from pleasing your husband) feels like? Spend time with people who love you for you (friends, family, pets) to remember that you are awesome & do not need to change in order to be loved.
posted by fiore at 9:00 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't say this often, but DTMFA. Immediately.

Find a place to stay, pack up your stuff while he isn't home, and leave for good. Call a divorce lawyer in the morning.

You deserve much, much better than this, and have already put far more effort into saving this relationship than is reasonable.
posted by schmod at 9:31 AM on August 11, 2010

This is not about your weight. I have seen guys ditch someone for being too fat and then date someone much fatter. He is just using it as an excuse - if it weren't too fat it would be too thin, too pushy, too overbearing, too needy, too something else - all just excuses. He is a selfish inconsiderate ass who is using you and you should get rid him and find someone great who treats you wonderfully. There are not enough band-aids in the world to patch up this relationship.
posted by meepmeow at 10:04 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you're gotten a lot of not-quite-poly advice - most of it very good advice - and I wanted to provide a different perspective.

First and foremost: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU FOR FEELING THIS WAY. It doesn't make you're "faking" polyamory, it doesn't mean you're not trying hard enough, it doesn't mean you're failing anyone. This situation is completely unfair for you, and it's not only okay but important for you to acknowledge that.

The central ideas of polyamory as I've always understood them are (1) there's no such thing as too much love and (2) everyone's needs get met. The whole point is that you can love two people, and no one has to be jealous or neglected. When someone gets neglected, something isn't working right. Right now, you're not getting enough love and your needs are not being met.

You said you thought it would be unfair of you to date someone else - and honestly, I hate to agree with you, because it would be so good for you to have someone else... But you're right. This needs to be sorted out first.

Sometimes relationships go through difficult spots, and that's true of poly relationships, too. Sometimes in a three-person relationship, the dynamic between A and B might be great while the one between B and C suffers. That's part of natural human relationships - but in a healthy poly dynamic, it's the RESPONSIBILITY of person A to help. This isn't some old testament, favorite-wife bullshit - it's an arrangement that should make everyone happy. That means everyone needs to be worried about what will make everyone else happy. Is your husband's girlfriend aware of what's going on? Is she trying to help? The answers to both of those questions should be "yes." Are you comfortable talking to her? If not - then holy shit, why does she live with you? Polyamory can't be an excuse to do what you want and ignore a partner's feelings. It needs to be constant attention to everyone's feelings. If he's not doing that, he's cheating.

Talk to her. And talk to him again, but this time, don't ask what you're doing wrong. This time, ask him why he's doing what he's doing, and ask him what he's doing right. Tell him what you need from him.

Look, leaving is a big, big deal. I get that, and that's why I'm not on the "DTMFA" train. Things can get better in relationships, and I'm sure there are plenty of wonderful things we don't know about. You two have a life together. However, it might be something to toss around in your head, at least in terms of logistics.

Also, gator asked if you had other friends. Metamail me if you want to talk! I'm very friendly and open-minded. I am also super cute, or so the girlfriend has brainwashed me into believing. (And, as a side note, that is exactly what I've come to expect out of relationships. Not just mine: everyone's.)
posted by honeydew at 10:05 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

All of that said, just to be clear, if this happened to me I would punch him in the face. I am not exagerrating. I am not condoning domestic abuse (and for the record, this whole situation sounds uncomfortably close to emotional abuse). But I'm pretty sure I would punch him right in the face, if I hadn't done it a long time ago.
posted by honeydew at 10:24 AM on August 11, 2010

Mod note: folks, respectful answers about the OP's weight are on topic and OK - take metaconcerns to metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:42 AM on August 11, 2010

I never post on these threads, but you sound like a neat person and I can relate to much of your situation.

Okay, so my husband and I have a saying in relation to polyamory: "No one wants the ass end of the cat all the time". It's not healthy for one person to get all the fun and sex and good times (the purring end of the cat!) and the other person to get all the bill paying and chores and no sex and drama stories and fighting (ew, poopy). You need to keep a pretty good ratio of both "sides", particularly with your primary partner.

That being said, it sounds like you have been getting the ass end of the cat for a while now.

This is NOT about your weight. He just said that to focus on something that you can't easily fix. This is about a relationship that isn't functioning as it should. If you want to make this work, you guys both need to commit to some long communication sessions and perhaps therapy to change the tone of your relationship. If he won't do that, then in my opinion you should rethink your whole situation.
posted by jess at 11:02 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

This whole thread makes me sad...good luck.
posted by soss at 11:17 AM on August 11, 2010

AskMe is really good for getting an outside perspective on things that you're too deep inside to see clearly. And that's important in this case, because the really heartbreaking thing about your post is that it's clearly proceeding from the premise that you are somehow the problem here, and that you need to change something about yourself. What I hope you can see from all these responses is what's clear to the rest of us: your husband is the problem here. There's no shame in your not seeing that yourself - it's hard to when you're in the middle of this kind of situation.

I do think it's possible for a good person to become less attracted to another person because of significant weight gain. But a good person, or a person with any regard for his/her partner's feelings, does not express that by saying "well, maybe if you lost some weight."

You know in action movies when they blow up a building and walk away from it and don't even look at the explosion behind them as they walk away? That's what you need to do to this relationship (metaphorically, obviously).
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:28 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm physically disabled (mobility impaired) so I know what it's like to struggle with your body. The frustration that goes with it not doing what the hell you want it to do. I'm also 4 ft 6 and 135 so I'm pretty freakin' curvy at 35 years old. When I was growing up with leg braces and a back brace, kids were ALWAYS making fun of me. If I even talked to a boy, I was merciless teased because of how obviously ridiculous it was that a man would ever be interested in me. It was so severe that by 12 I was suicidal. My mother, bless her, noticed and pulled me out of public school. I went to a private school where kids not only were totally fine with my disability but actually HELPED ME when I needed it. For the first time, I felt accepted and for the first time boys were interested in me!

Now, I live in NYC and while I know I'm not a model, I get hit on by hot college guys (3 this year alone) as well as other intelligent attractive men. Sure I have scars. Sure my feet look like a special effect from a david cronenberg movie. Sure there are lots of reasons why men might not want to date me (watching someone you love struggle with their health is very difficult and something any man I date would have to face fairly regularly). And sure there are lots of men who accept me the way I am and are awfully honored to be my date.

This guy sounds like he's been abusive from the get go and I do think you need to go into therapy by yourself to find out why it is you stayed with someone who treated your feelings so harshly. I can't IMAGINE ever saying half the crap he has said to you to one of my enemies. On some level I disagree with people who say that you need to accept yourself first. For me, it was people treating me with decency that made me realize "Hey, I AM a person. I deserve respect too." But once I had that experience, I never let go of it or forgot it. I knew from then on I ALWAYS deserved to be respected no matter how people treated me. If they treated me badly, they were doing me a favor because I would know, quickly, that I could do without them in my life. Lots of people think I'm freak. Women give me dirty looks all the time because they think I have implants or whatever. FUCK THEM. The only person who has to live with me is me and if I'm OK with me, then they can STFU. If a man can't handle what I have to offer, fine. I don't want to be with a guy who can't handle me so I let them go knowing that I'm awesome and someone who can love me is just waiting for me be to available.

I know how hard it is to battle those feelings, and the good news is that in this thread alone you've found a lot of allies who are willing to help you find a way to feel great about yourself. Sometimes you need someone to tell you how awesome you are, and there are a bunch of us in this thread who think you're amazing for having the honesty and bravery to even post this question so you can begin to take that journey. I really do wish you the very best, and if you ever want to share a pitcher of margaritas or mojitos or martinis or whatever in NYC, lemme know ;-)
posted by miss-lapin at 11:33 AM on August 11, 2010 [14 favorites]

YOU ARE FUCKABLE!!!!! Don't let ANYONE tell you differently.

“Love isn't finding a perfect person. It's seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” -Sam Keen

I am 5'3 and 286lbs. I have been told I carry my weight very well...I have the curves and am filled out in the right spots. I get whistled at all the time. Guys ask me for my number when I'm out with friends. It took a long time for me to be comfortable with who I am; inside and out. Your husband doesn't truly realize how AWESOME you are. It sounds like it is time to stop focusing on his needs and wants and start focusing on yourself. Therapy was one of the BEST things I ever did.

Actions speak louder than words.
posted by zombiehoohaa at 11:54 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am incredibly fat, yet apparently my husband thinks that is okay. As do lots of other people.
posted by Ouisch at 1:00 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like he's a huge jerk. He wants out of the relationship and instead of doing the mature thing and taking responsibility for his decision, he is trying to shame you with your own body. You deserve better.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:31 PM on August 11, 2010

Also, I think it's unbelievably smarmy of him to be telling you all about how bad sex with the other woman is. How untrustworthy, disloyal, and traitorous of him, to be creeping between the two of you, badmouthing each of you to each other.

It seems to me that he's playing both of you in a way, making you each think that you're the problem, and that the other woman is the problem, so that he completely avoids any scrutiny.

He's got you thinking that you're too fat, passive, boring, and he's also got you thinking that SHE is too dramatic, unstable, bad in bed, etc. Wow, you would think if you were both so awful, he'd be outta there. Hmm, wonder why not.

He sounds like a really good manipulator, and he sounds like he has manipulated both of you and this entire situation perfectly to his advantage, where both of you are never good enough so you always still need to please him even more. So he can get all his wants and needs met, and never have to worry about anyone else's, and always have both of you chasing your tails to give him more and more if he wants you to.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:54 PM on August 11, 2010 [10 favorites]

So, years ago you two were having problems with your sex life, and

the conversations we had then about sex really, really hurt me. I have clear and distinct memories of lying in bed, tears streaming down my face, as he laid out a litany of what was wrong with me. Too frigid, not affectionate enough, too passive, too quiet in bed, too fast, too ticklish… too too too.

He responded with cruelty and whined about how it's all your fault and none of his.

And now, when you two are having problems with your sex life,

Turns out he says that it’s because I’m fat.

Fixed that. More cruelty, and blaming it on you again. It sounds like he has a problem, and it's easier for him to lash out and say it's all your fault than to think about what he's doing or not doing and why.

I don't have anything useful to suggest about what you should do for most of this, but don't listen to vicious bullshit about your weight. That is almost certainly not the problem.
posted by dilettante at 2:10 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your weight is not the issue. Your man is. He sounds like a piece of shit who wants the best of both worlds. I promise you that if you were to lose the weight, nothing would change. DTMFA

the polyamory thing was a bad idea. sounds like an excuse for him to fuck someone else. Maybe you should have him read this post and then he'll realize what a jack ass he is. Good Luck!

There are plenty of good men out there that would love to have a beautiful curveaceous woman such as yourself...Without a gf on the side. =)
posted by ladybug_422 at 5:00 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to note something because it bothers me in retrospect. Above I said something about this relationship having 'no value'; and that's actually not something that I would ever intentionally say. I'd taken a sleeping pill and I was a little loopy. I think it's a clumsy and dumb thing to say. The relationship absolutely has value, you haven't wasted your time, you're in the process of learning something and figuring something out and no matter what--the experience has value, and probably lots. I'm sorry I was careless in trying to say that.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:30 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are plenty of guys out there who prefer curvy women. Find one who will cook for you, and love you for who you are. Look for fans of, say, Rebecca Dart's artwork.

Your husband presumably agreed when he married you to stick with you under all circumstances. He's not living up to his end of the bargain.
posted by novalis_dt at 7:54 PM on August 11, 2010

I'm a little confused about the unqualified, 100% total certainty with which a good number of you guys stated that, contrary to what he said, the OP's husband's lack of sexual attention has nothing to do with the OP's weight. Is there some strong indicator of this in the OP's question that I'm missing? Do you just not buy that weight can such a major factor in one's level of attraction? And if it's not about the weight, why would he say that it is?

Maybe I'm more ready to take the OP's husband's words at face value because for me, a certain level of fatness alone can disqualify any feelings of sexual attraction I might otherwise have. I'm not proud of this or anything, and I'd change it about myself if I knew how, but it just seems to be how I'm wired. And it's not like I'm some total beauty-fascist or anything. In other areas, my libido can be more forgiving of deviations from the traditional standard of attractiveness. Large noses, bushy eyebrows, bad teeth, small breasts, rough skin, facial assymetry -- I've often found girls with some combinations of these features more attractive than my other male friends.

Furthermore, I find that intelligence, warmth, a goofy sense of humor, and a good sense of style can really go a long way in making me extremely attracted to a girl I wouldn't ordinarily give a 2nd glance -- except when it comes to a girl being overweight, in which case, personality doesn't do much. I once was in a fairly long term relationship with a girl who, I found out had struggled with bulimia a year or so before I met her. Almost a year into the relationship, a particular confluence of stressors led the girl to start putting on some weight. A few pounds here and therea at first, but before long, it had really added up. And all of a sudden, she left me totally cold. Sex became a chore. To this day, I've never fantasized about another woman during sex, but with this girl, I would actively picture how she looked when we met. And I felt I couldn't say anything, because it seemed not ust cruel but actually dangerous to tell a former bulimic that it wasn't my new busy work schedule, but rather her weight gain, that was slowing down our sex life. (Fortunately, before too long, she got a new job with a health club + yummy vegan restaurant in the same building, and our sex life was saved... though we broke up after a couple years, anyway.)

So,after that lengthy overshare, I guess what I'm trying to say is that to me, "it's your weight" has always been the truth that I'm coming up with excuses to avoid saying, and it just seems odd and backward to me that a guy would use that to cover something else up.
posted by patnasty at 11:07 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you want to make changes, do so, but do it for *you* and not for some jackhole who plays one person off on another.

As stated above, start treating and regarding yourself the way you would treat and regard a beloved best friend.

While your body weight might be a cause for concern, it is for many people, but they don't have spouses who jerk them around for it. You are lovable, and he's out there, but you don't yet share the same roof with this individual.

Many years ago, it was a revelation to hear somebody actually talk about having her needs met. That was a completely new concept that just blew me away.
posted by SillyShepherd at 3:30 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

OP, you've been given a lot of really, really good advice here, and I hope with all my heart you find happiness (which most likely involves getting yourself as far away from this man as possible), because you absolutely deserve nothing less.

Your question's been picked over and analyzed pretty well, but I did want to point out one other thing that no one else has commented on (I don't think). You said:

The first time they met, she told him she didn’t find him physically attractive (she knew what he looked like) and she was expecting angels since she thought she was in love. He was devastated. He thought she ought to be attracted to him for who he was. They had pity sex. It got weirder from there. It really damaged his confidence. I did the best I could to convince him he was still attractive - I have ALWAYS been attracted to him, and [I] thought the ideal she wanted was ridiculous.

Emphasis mine, obviously.

So let me get this straight: he picks up a girl, who then tells him that she's not attracted to him physically, and he gets his feelings hurt. But then! He turns around and does the exact same thing to you. The level of hypocrisy here in his attitude is pretty spectacular, you know? Why is it ok for him to expect someone to love him "for who he [is]," but it's not ok for you to expect the same?

Even laying aside almost everything else he's done to you, the fact that he himself has been treated in such a cruel and shallow fashion makes his treatment of you all the more odious.

You are clearly very smart and well-spoken, you can cook, you know how to manage the bills, and you're incredibly kind to boot. Darlin', that is what folks in some circles call "a catch." That's right. You. You Are A Catch.

I can personally guarantee you that there are a ton of guys who value smart and well-spoken over shallow and a rockin' bod any day of the week. From what you told us, this guy is far, far beneath you, and you deserve a million times better.

Good luck, and know that pretty much everyone here is rooting for you.
posted by shiu mai baby at 6:15 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

The level of hypocrisy here in his attitude is pretty spectacular, you know? Why is it ok for him to expect someone to love him "for who he [is]," but it's not ok for you to expect the same?

Actually, criticizing someone and picking someone who criticizes him are entirely consistent. They are both part of a fear of intimacy. They're two sides of that same coin. He does not want an accepting, loving, close relationship. That's why he picks people who live on the other coast or who reject him, and also that's why he picks people who stay with him even when he rejects them. All he has is this instinct: don't get close. But he may be unaware of it, and he probably doesn't want to face it or address it. I'm sure that would be very uncomfortable.

When closeness comes up, like in those early days, he pushes it away -- he pushes you away -- with whatever random reasons come to him. It hurts you a lot, and it sucks. But it's an outgrowth of HIS STUFF, not a true reflection on you. A few times in your life, someone will offer you some feedback about yourself that is true and that will truly help you grow. This is not one of those times. Much more often, insults / feedback someone gives you are actually just a reflection about the person speaking. This is one of those times. All his words are his way of saying "this is uncomfortable, I don't want to be close," and "no, I do not want to honestly examine and discuss with you why I don't want to be close." To me, that's all his insults convey -- that he is afraid of truly being close.

Then, meanwhile, he feels extremely comfortable feeling passionate toward someone who pushes him away and with whom he has big fights. There's no risk with her. He can feel as passionate as he wants, without accidentally getting into a situation that is too close for comfort. All of this is just a symptom of one core thing about who he is. His words and actions actually have very little to do with you, except of course, for how much they hurt.

But again, don't think too long and hard about His Stuff, because your understanding won't change him and the situation. The only thing that will do that will be your refusal to put up with it anymore, and your solid confidence that you deserve a close and intimate relationship. You took a great step toward that when you spoke up the first time. Please keep us posted as you move ahead. I'm yet another person who is happy to memail if you could use another penpal supporter.
posted by salvia at 4:20 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you lose the weight, do it for yourself, not for him.

He may or may not become re-attracted to you if you lose the weight. It sounds like your weight is only part of the problem in your relationship. He's handling it immaturely and insensitively. But even if he does want you again after you lose the weight, do you really want someone who only loves you conditionally?

My partner gained some weight after we got together and was unhappy about it. Every time he complained I reassured him that he was still attractive. I think that's what a truly loving partner would do. And it was true, too.

I could never have hurt him the way your husband is hurting you. It would have broken my heart to see him so hurt. Why does your man not feel this way? Something's wrong with him.

Listen to the other women on this thread who say they are fat but in loving relationships with men who find them attractive! You don't have to settle for someone fatphobic.

As far as the poly issue goes, FWIW I'm not poly but I've known a lot of people who are, and they all say that the primary relationship must be extremely healthy before secondaries come into it. It doesn't sound like this is the case with your relationship.

Is he willing to end things with his secondary and go into couples counseling with you, with a poly-friendly marriage and family therapist? You are his WIFE. You have the right to demand that. And you have the right to sue for divorce if he refuses to work on things.
posted by xenophile at 11:12 AM on August 13, 2010

I strongly agree with what Salvia said about the intimacy issues.

Like everyone above, I'm pulling for you, sweetie. Get yourself out of that crazy, soul-sucking household and find yourself a true Room Of Your Own. When you're ready, I predict that you'll find a whole host of delightful, caring guys and gals who'll love and want you for exactly who you are.

On the weight issue-- losing weight and exercising have historically been great helps to me during periods of advanced heartbreak, but as others above have said, if you're going to do that, make it about *you*, not about him.

On the brain-in-a-jar thing: I honestly want to slap him for making you feel like that. Your body is yours to pamper, treasure, and love, no matter what you weight is. Since he's being a toad, I suggest that you show your body some love of your own. Have a massage, a pedicure, or spend a day at the spa. Go to Lush or The Body Shop and buy some lovely shampoos, cleansers, and lotions for yourself. Pick up some fresh, well-constructed new bras in a couple of pretty colors. If you want to take that to the next level, I've found that belly dance is a great way for a curvy gal to connect with her body and start feeling sensual again (while at the same time getting in some cardio.) Yoga's also quite good for that, I hear.

Best of luck, and do update us if you can.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:32 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

His problem is not your weight. That's an excuse, EVEN if he really believes that (and you'll probably never know if he does or not).

A man's love and sexual attraction for his partner, like a woman's, is only minorly affected by actual physical appearance. Presentation & the partner's self-esteem: now that's another story. But "She got fat" is either code for "She stopped caring for herself" (which is unsexy in anyone), or else code for "I don't want to address what really changed in my heart."
posted by IAmBroom at 10:44 AM on August 18, 2010

relationship broken: add more people
Why are you staying in a broken relationship?
posted by Sara Anne at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2010

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