thicker than a snickers
February 8, 2011 5:54 PM   Subscribe

I suspect that my boyfriend likes women who are 'thicker' than me. What do I do?

I've been dating someone for a few years now. We have had our share of problems, but we've been working through them. I've always been a little bothered that all of the women he's been involved with before have had the same type of body (not fat, but probably slightly overweight/just under overweight with largish breasts, middle-sized tummies, and thicker bubble butts). I am on the slim side of healthy. I have a flat stomach. I work out and eat well. My breasts are medium and my WHR is large, but not in the same pleasantly plump way. He tells me that he loves my body when prompted, but during sex he only focuses on my butt and breasts. He doesn't compliment my physique as much as other lovers have, but has assured me that he doesn't have a 'type'. He says that it is stupid that I'd even think that. He also mentions quite often how he doesn't find thin women attractive at all. A few days ago, I found a piece of paper at his house with some porn-looking links written down on them. I wasn't trying to invade his privacy. The note was in an open box next to a love letter I'd written him, so I wasn't exactly digging around.

They were all links to many photos of the same woman, and she definitely looked like the standard style of woman he'd been with before. She had the exact same body type as the last two women he'd been with for longer than a night. Is this common in relationships? Should I just deal with it? I don't expect my partner to be attracted to only me, but he has had a history of concealing many things relating to women. I'm starting to get worried that he is dating me because I fit a more "mainstream" standard of attractiveness (in addition to getting along with him well), but he'd rather be with someone soft with a cute little tummy and some extra womanly padding. How do I cope with these feelings? My 'gut' has been telling me this for awhile, so I'm not sure how to react.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
but during sex he only focuses on my butt and breasts.

For a lot of guys, I'm sure this is the case regardless of whether they think you have gorgeous hair or whatever.

But I understand that you are having this feeling. Have you brought it up to him before, making all of the points you've made here?
posted by DeltaForce at 6:04 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

my husband has dated many women smaller than me - shorter, skinnier, less curves - basically my opposite. the difference is that he compliments me constantly. i have zero doubts that he finds me sexy. i think your issue here is manifesting as a body type issue, when it really seems like the bigger part is that he doesn't tell you how awesome he finds you. i don't know how to fix the second one, but if it gets fixed, i'm here to tell you the first once doesn't have to be a deal breaker.
posted by nadawi at 6:07 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

He's with you and not with someone else with X, Y, and Z qualities. So what's the big deal?

It would still be a good thing to address this issue with him, as well as other insecurities.
posted by Neekee at 6:11 PM on February 8, 2011

I don't expect my partner to be attracted to only me, but he has had a history of concealing many things relating to women.

We have no idea what this means, and it's the closest you come to identifying what the actual problem is. Without expanding on that it sounds like you are picking at something with no real reason. Are you afraid he will have an affair with a woman with a big butt? Flirt with women with big butts? Not have sex with you because you don't have a big butt? Spend a ton of time looking at porn of women with big butts?
posted by unannihilated at 6:11 PM on February 8, 2011 [9 favorites]

fwiw, my SO doesn't share certain physical attributes that many of the other guys I've date share, but I wouldn't change him for the world. There's a lot more to a relationship than certain physical attributes.
posted by Neekee at 6:13 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a lesbian and am most attracted to the type of woman your husband seems to like, but have ended up dating mostly slim women who don't have that body type.
I can honestly say that you don't have to worry in the slightest little bit. While very slim women are not who I would pick out for my wildest fantasies (or porn), they are who I have ended up falling in love with, and they are who I have found so beautiful and sexy that it hurts, and had incredibly satisfying sex with.
Looking back I never complimented them on their flat tummies, because that's not an attribute that I particularly value or crave. But women aren't just parts, they're wholes, and I'm sure he loves your body in its entirety (okay maybe especially your breasts and butt....).
posted by whalebreath at 6:24 PM on February 8, 2011 [11 favorites]

You may well be an exception to his "normal type" but that doesn't mean he doesn't find you attractive. So he may well look at porn that is more his "normal type", but again that doesn't mean anything by itself (most guys look at porn, usually not of their partner). Aside from people with a fetish, having a type doesn't mean it's the only style of woman you're attracted to, just that it's often the case.

If you're having a good sex life, I don't think there's anything to worry about. Other than maybe that you would like him to compliment you more, which you should tell him. If it seems like he's only having sex with you out of duty or something, that would be the concern (and may or may not be a body type issue, could be unrelated). Also, if you self-identify as thin as he is specifically saying he doesn't find thin women attractive, either he's being oblivious and not picking up on that or maybe he's intentionally trying to put you down. But that would only apply if he thinks of you as thin (as opposed to "normal" or just "not fat" or whatever... maybe thin to him only means runway model thin?).
posted by wildcrdj at 6:30 PM on February 8, 2011

A few days ago, I found a piece of paper at his house with some porn-looking links written down on them. I wasn't trying to invade his privacy.

OK. I believe you.

They were all links to many photos of the same woman

Wait what? These links were on a sheet of paper, so you must have had to type them into a browser. Why would you bother? There is something else going on here.

he has had a history of concealing many things relating to women.

Oh and here it is. Without knowing what this is about, the question is unanswerable. Without this line, I would have said "Forget about it, he's with you, who cares who else turns his head?" But you've got some other trust issues going on here, and it's impossible to tell if they're valid or not.

Nevertheless I'm gonna answer your question as if that line wasn't in there.

during sex he only focuses on my butt and breasts.

Completely normal regardless of body type. If you want this to change, put his hands where you want them to go. Make appreciative noises. Repeat.

He also mentions quite often how he doesn't find thin women attractive at all.

Your response to this is a joking, "Hey, I'm thin!" accompanied by a playful shove. His response to that better be along the lines of "Baby, you're perfect."

I'm starting to get worried that he is dating me because I fit a more "mainstream" standard of attractiveness (in addition to getting along with him well), but he'd rather be with someone soft with a cute little tummy and some extra womanly padding.

Guys don't stick around for years for a woman they're not attracted to, especially if they're not married and don't have a kid with them.
posted by desjardins at 6:33 PM on February 8, 2011 [9 favorites]

he has had a history of concealing many things relating to women

This is the entire problem right here. If the whole time you were dating him, you had known him to be balls-out completely blunt and honest about everything, even/especially potentially hurtful things, would you doubt him for a moment and be insecure at all when he tells you he doesn't have a type, no matter how many photos of thick women you find around?

Being with a guy who conceals things related to women, can make you CRAZY. I doubt this is the only problem that tendency of his will create for you. Just wait until he starts spending a lot of time with a "friend, just a friend, and you are paranoid and jealous." He's already told you it's "stupid of you" to think that he has a type. That's par for the course people who act that way, trying to make you think you're just mental.

Fix this problem first if you can, that'll take care of everything else. If it can't be fixed, move on.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:36 PM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

He's with you, he loves you, and it's so, so difficult not to worry about this kind of thing. We're all constantly worrying whether or not our bodies are "right" or are attractive and it sort of erodes our self-esteem. Don't pin on him the constant insecurity that we're all trained to carry around with ourselves. He's with you for the whole package -- body, brain, heart'n'soul. And it sounds like he pretty clearly does not have a *problem* with your body; it doesn't sound like your sex life is suffering or like he isn't showing enough interest.

That said, while I found it hard to believe at first, people who do have a serious interest in big, curvy women actually do tend to be a little bit ashamed of it. I think it's related very much to the shame that women with bigger bodies feel about their bodies -- it's not the "mainstream" as you say, so they often feel like it's "wrong" to be into that or to have that body.

Which maybe maybe could mean that you guys are going to have an intersection of insecurity. I think you should talk to him about this, but you have to be willing to own up to the fact that you're having trouble thinking of yourself as pretty if he isn't reassuring you that you're pretty -- that you have some body image stuff. It's okay!! But it's not something that he can fix for you -- nor should he try.

On preview, Ashley101 is making a good point, and what I've said about body image stuff may be of less importance.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 6:41 PM on February 8, 2011

Yeah, I think it's the concealing that's the problem and maybe if he's avoiding giving you a straight answer about this issue (or if you suspect he is lying) that is just making it worse.

My husband finds plump women really attractive. All his previous girlfriends were the same body type: short, very fat around the middle, huge breasts. He admits that that is his "type", i.e. what turns his head on the street, and what he seeks out in porn. He also tells me he finds me (slim, small breasts, tall) super hot and I believe him. I don't find these things impossibly contradictory. But I believe him when he tells me this BECAUSE he is honest about other stuff, including about the fact that he is especially attracted to fat women.

Your problem is that your guy conceals stuff, so that you can't trust him when you ask him honestly about this body type/attractiveness issue. You need to work on trust with him more generally, or decide whether it is going to be a dealbreaker.
posted by lollusc at 6:41 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been with someone who was ashamed of the fact he was attracted to big girls and would never acknowledge me when his friends were about. He'd take "normal" girls out with his friends but always come back to the thick ladies in private. I think the key is how he treated his other girlfriends. Did they have full girlfriend status or were they secrets from his friends and family? That you know about them is a good sign. If they were girlfriends in the real sense, then I think he chooses you for you and not because he thinks that's who people expect him to be with. If he has hidden those relationships away, you might need to do some talking.
posted by Foam Pants at 6:42 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're not an industrial heiress or an international diamond thief or something, he's with you because he digs you.

The idea that he's dating you because you're more socially acceptable than a fat chick is a bit odd. Unless your shared social circle is exclusively world-class marathon runners, the "obesity epidemic" means that you've got people of all sizes in your social life, and there's not going to be that much stigma attached to dating someone with "soft with a cute little tummy and some extra womanly padding." Turning it around - maybe you're so conventionally stunning, with your healthy physique, that he's with you just for the bragging rights, but then why would he spend time with you and make love to you? Why wouldn't he just parade you around town and keep it at that?

Nearly everyone is insecure, sometimes. Yeah, your situation is a little different because many women in Western culture are insecure about the possibility their partners want someone thinner, but it all comes from the same place. If he says you're sexy, if he wants to sex you up, if he likes you and spends time with you and compliments you (albeit not as much as other lovers) don't go looking for trouble - take his words and actions at face value. Don't tangle your head up trying to find evidence he doesn't really want you.

Also - the "concealing many things relating to women" - this confused me. But if it means, "I think he wants to have sex with other women" - well. Someone wise once told me, "You can ask him to be faithful, you can tell him he can't touch, but you will never, ever stop a man from looking." You can hope he'll be tactful and kind enough to conceal it, but heterosexual men look at, and think about other women.

If it means he's known to screw around on his main squeeze, well, even then it doesn't mean he doesn't want you. (Also he will probably screw around on you. Because if there's anything humans can be counted on to do, it's whatever they've gotten away with before.)
posted by gingerest at 6:49 PM on February 8, 2011

It isn't inherently a problem to date someone who's attracted to, or has mostly dated, women who have a different body type than you.

I might appear, to some people, to have fairly similar preferences to your boyfriend. But I'm absolutely, genuinely, wildly attracted to thin women, including women who are quite a bit skinnier than average. I see no contradiction in being equally attracted to women who look very different from each other. Different women are different! That's just life.

Now, maybe this bothers some women, on some level. For instance, when I mentioned that I'm attracted a range of different women's body types, a female (platonic) friend of mine said: "So you have no standards!" Now, she herself is attracted to people who look very different from each other: she has dated men and women, short and tall, black and white. I doubt she would say of herself that she has "no standards," yet I get called out if I have a thing for both Marilyn Monroe and Keira Knightley. I find this fascinating. (I have some theories for why this is, but I don't want to derail.)

So I don't think it raises a red flag that he has mostly dated women with a bigger physique than yours. If that were the whole issue, I'd have a simple response: he's dating you now, and that's what matters. You have to assume he's attracted to you. It doesn't need to be any more of an issue for your relationship than if you were the first blue-eyed woman he's dated.

The parts of your question that do raise red flags are:

He says that it is stupid that I'd even think that. He also mentions quite often how he doesn't find thin women attractive at all. ...

he has had a history of concealing many things relating to women.

Those sound like serious problems. (Note: "sound like." They're also vague or possibly filtered by your memory/interpretion, so I'm withholding judgment.) If they are serious problems, deal with them. I recommend keep them separate from the fairly innocuous point that he's attracted to women with different body types than yours. There is no question about that: you know he is, and that's fine. The issue is whether he is attracted to ... and honest with ... and respectful toward ... you.
posted by John Cohen at 7:03 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's possible and common to be very attracted to someone who's not one's "type." Physically attracted, too, not just that beautiful-on-the-inside stuff.

And consider the possibilty you have it backwards - maybe he prefers slender women, but by pure coincidence all the ladies he's gone out with before you have been larger.

I think it would be very, very unlikely that he chooses to be in a long-term relationship with you against his desires out of some compulsion to be with someone conventionally attractive, unless your social circle puts a lot of emphasis on image, or he has major self-esteem issues.

Other than that, I'm not sure if I can tell you what's going on here. There are some vague things in your question ("problems," "concealing things") that might be complicating factors, or not. It's possible that the truth is exactly as you fear, but I doubt it. To me it sounds like he's not expressing his affection/attraction in a way that you find meaningful, and you're insecure about your looks and/or the relationship. You'll need to meet in the middle: he needs to find ways to communicate, without your prompting, that he finds you attractive, and you need to believe that you are attractive and he's with you because he really digs you. (Barring any red flags, of course.)

One final thing: when he said it was "stupid that [you'd] even think that," did he really use the word stupid? This could be another complicating factor you've hinted at. A good partner needs to respect your thoughts and feelings, no matter what they are.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:05 PM on February 8, 2011

Well, I'm a straight gal and I'm usually more physically attracted to women.
I have a boyfriend who does not have breasts. And I love him very much and think that he is hot.

When we first got together he freaked out a few times because my past boyfriends were usually thinner and didn't grow facial hair.
So, I just told him (like your boyfriend told you) that he was being ridiculous.

As I've grown older (I'm 30), my taste in men have changed.
It basically boils down to sense of humor and other non-physical traits over physical appearance.

My boyfriend's porn collection consists of generic porno stars - which I don't look like and don't really care to look like.
Mine consists of thick women and regular jock dudes. Neither of which he is.

I mean, that's really how it goes.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:06 PM on February 8, 2011

While you might be thin, are you flabby? Not to be mean, but maybe some time with the free weights would give you a bit more heft, which might be more exciting or enchanting for him.
Guys always focus on breasts and butts. They're not looking at elbows.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:48 PM on February 8, 2011

You're slim now. That's great. Odds are, you won't be quite so slim in 10 or 15 years' time. Even if you keep exercising and eating well, your metabolism will slow and your hips and butt will fill out. It sounds like this guy thinks you're hot stuff now, and, if you stay together, he'll continue to think so as your body changes with age. Isn't that more reassuring than being with a guy who'll drop you if you gain a pound or two?
posted by embrangled at 7:54 PM on February 8, 2011

Have you ever experienced the emotion of being surprisingly attracted to someone unexpected? Someone older, younger, taller, shorter, darker, lighter, more indie, more normal, or just plain different from your usual type?

Even if you haven't personally, ask around and a lot of people will probably be able to share stories about this. I know that if I look at my own dating history, there's definitely a type, but there are also a few exceptions to that type that I still just absolutely clicked with on a very physical level.

Porn is, I think, pretty misleading in this respect. What works in a choppy Internet video with a cheesy soundtrack tends to be very cartoonish, and very different from what works when you're touching, tasting, smelling, caressing and actually interacting with a real, live partner.

Are there behavioral cues that would make you think he's not into you? Is he significantly more affectionate in public than in private? Is he reluctant to initiate sex? Is he making derogatory commnts about your body?

But if the porn and the exes are the only clues, I'd say you're safe ignoring them. The exes are ex for a reason, and the porn by itself could mean anything.
posted by psycheslamp at 8:13 PM on February 8, 2011

I'm just going to throw this out there: Don't you want to be with someone who you know is into you? Someone who doesn't tell you that you're "stupid" when you talk about how you might not be his type?

You can have this thing. The thing where your lover adores you and loves your body and tells you so. This person might not even have to tell you in words very often, because it'll just be there in the way that he looks at you, touches you, wants you from across the room.

Don't saddle yourself with a lifetime-long complex of "maybe my body's not good enough". Life is (truly) too short for that. There are many people who will love you and want you, in that desperate-longing, fire-in-the-eyes kind of way. Not all the time, not every minute of every day, but so often that you won't question the attraction.
posted by eleyna at 9:49 PM on February 8, 2011 [10 favorites]

While you might be thin, are you flabby? Not to be mean, but maybe some time with the free weights would give you a bit more heft, which might be more exciting or enchanting for him.

The way to conquer insecurity about one's body is not to create more insecurity about one's body. If she wants to get healthier by lifting weights, fine, but to do it because she thinks it will make her more attractive to him is the road to madness. There's no end to it if you genuinely believe you're not attractive to your partner. If it's not body type, it will be hair length, or perceived femininity, or something else.
posted by desjardins at 8:49 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

And consider the possibilty you have it backwards - maybe he prefers slender women, but by pure coincidence all the ladies he's gone out with before you have been larger.

According to the OP, he says that he thinks slender women are less attractive than larger women.

Which, to me, is the icky part. People have "types" and then they date or marry or partner with people who are not those "types" at all; we all have examples from our friends' circle, I'm sure.

The thing is that it's not cool for your bf to make blanket statements that "Group X are the most attractive women!" when you're not among Group X. It's disrespectful. We don't have to say all the thoughts that are in our heads, after all. If he thinks that chunky or plump or Amazonian women are, in the abstract, TEH HOTNESS, he doesn't have to share that thought with you and make you feel like crap about yourself.

The only thing that I wonder about is this: are you someone who diets rigorously to maintain a slender physique that is not your natural set-point? Because if that's the case, he might be using a really stupid and disrespectful technique to try to encourage you to drop that behavior. (I say this only because you talk about "carte blanche to eat more.")

Of course, saying, "Honey, if you're dieting because you think I won't find you sexy at your natural set point, please don't, because that isn't even how I roll" would be appropriately supportive, I guess; saying "Chunky women are super-hot!" isn't. But if that's what's going on, I can understand how he gets it wrong in our "You can never be too thin" culture.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:34 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

You cannot read minds. He is with you. He has stated he loves you. He has stated he has no type.

You are left with a decision. What if he did like thicker women? What would you do? Break up with him? "Sorry honey but you want a fattie and I'll never be that, so I'm breaking up with you." Because if he does like heavier women a bit more, what is there that you can do? Kidnap him with the Moonies and brainwash him?

Love this man is my advice.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:55 PM on February 9, 2011

Sounds like you have to parse out how much of this is from your own insecurities and how much is from his lack of demonstrativeness.

You can ask him to be more complimentary and pay attention to other areas of your body during sex.

However, (as eleyna mentions above) the feeling of being attractive to someone is not necessarily elicited by statements and sexual acts, but a culmination of the ways in which someone approaches and interacts with you- (perhaps there is a range of opinion on this- perhaps this type of expression of sexuality is not in everyone's nature. . . i don't know.)

But for me, like love, sexual attraction is expressed in a many subtle gestures and these signals are the ones that ring true.
posted by abirdinthehand at 4:17 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mod note: bunch of derail comments removed - email or metatalk are options folks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:53 PM on February 9, 2011

MrMippy's last partner was a shorter woman with small bosom who liked reading Russian novels.

I am 5ft 10, large of bust (and hips and elsewhere - I've never dated a man with larger feet than mine) and I have failed to get past the first chapter of Lolita twice.

I could probably give you similar differences for my past partners, although I know there are certain physical/personality features I gravitate toward. I'm not confident at all about my looks so I understand exactly how you feel, but people like a variety of things and they only way to feel confident about this is to talk with him.

I'm not sure whether the 'mainstream' thing makes sense - do you think your partner is that shallow or image-conscious that he would date someone to whom he was not attracted? Many men and women are specifically fond of larger partners (or smaller, or etc. etc.) so this doesn't make sense at all. Look at Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer - there are all types of people who are out there having sex.
posted by mippy at 7:38 AM on February 10, 2011

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