I Want You to Want Me
August 1, 2014 11:13 PM   Subscribe

Is this some sort of mid-life crisis, a hormone thing, or both?

I am an average, soon to be 42-year-old woman. Stable, predictable, employed, and married with kids.

For the past six months I've been feeling like I want to attract all of the men. I want people to find me attractive. I want my husband's friends to find me attractive. I have fantasies of having other men desiring me. I'm thinking of what I'm going to wear, do, and say so they will find me attractive. I find myself having crushes on my husband's friends. This has happened more than once. More than anything I want them to want me. I want my husband to want me of course and he does. I'm thinking about how I can seduce him more as well and generally being more pleasant and trying to be attractive.

I'm thinking about it all of the time. I won't buy or wear clothes unless they are "feminine" (no "boy" clothes that I used to wear: sneakers, sweatshirts, oxfords, etc.). I am wearing makeup every day. I'm not dressing provocatively, just taking more care than normal to be more "appealing" and "feminine". I'm not eating as much as I normally do. On top of this I am regretful for all of the years that I've dressed plainly or more conservatively. I feel like I've wasted my youth by not putting my best foot forward when it came to grooming, beauty, clothes, exercise, etc. I've always been into my physical appearance but I never cared on a daily basis if I looked "feminine" and there were times when I've "let myself go" when my kids were younger. I have more serious regrets but this is a real regret lately. I know this all sounds crazy.

I am happily married and my husband and I have a great sex life. I would like sex more than once a week but our libidos are at different levels in our forties. I want it more and he wants it less. I don't want to force it because it's hotter when he really wants sex so I wait for him to initiate.

Is this some kind of hormonal surge? A need for validation? A mid-life crisis? Am I suffering from insecurity or a desperate feeling to prolong my youth? Part of me feels like all of my sexiness is going to fade away. I don't necessarily want to feel like this anymore and I don't want to care if my sexiness fades away because what does that mean anyway? What does it matter if strangers or my husband's friends find me sexy? I still want it though and sometimes I would love to know. I feel like it's making me into someone I'm not. I find myself being more shy and conscientious of my words around men instead of just being myself. I've dropped some of my interests because they are "unsexy". I have a fear that nobody will find me sexy now that I'm turning 42 and heading towards fifty.

If you had to analyze this what would you say and how can I get over it? I just want to be normal again, desire my husband only, and be myself. Thank you for any comments or advice.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like there is a hormonal aspect to this, certainly. Your doctor can check it out for you. It could be menopause-related, or it could be random. Hormone level checks are a simple blood test that can be done at the same time as a lipid/liver/glucose test (which is why mine was coded by my doctor as preventable care, and thus free, but YMMV.)

Only you can say why, emotionally, you may feel needy of sexual attention. I can't diagnose that...it sounds like validation or complicated feelings about youth are part of it, but it's probably a mix of issues. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting attention or flirting, so long as you're honest about what you're doing and why, and have talked it over with your partner. You're probably waiting for it...here it comes...have you tried therapy? :)

The only concrete advice I have is to try Jack Morin's book "The Erotic Mind." It's a very readble study of people's peak sexual experiences and how that relates to their erotic drives and their lives. It was helpful for me when I was interpreting my own sexual interests and working on the meanings behind them, and it's sort of a fun read anyway. It may help you understand what's going on in your head.

FWIW, I am 30 and take a medication that spikes my libido like I'm a teenager again. Dealing with it has largely been about understanding my motivations and being mindful of what I'm feeling and thinking. So it's less like I'm back to normal, and more like I'm just used to it. Good luck!
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:38 PM on August 1, 2014

If you want to dampen your libido, SSRI antidepressants typically have that as a side effect.

(Maybe not the healthiest approach to this problem but if all else fails...)
posted by Jacqueline at 2:03 AM on August 2, 2014

This sounds like perfectly normal midlife crisis stuff. The crushes, the confusion, all of it. Don't feel bad about feeling anything you feel. Really, some of this stuff is an all-but-inevitable part of getting older. Maybe there's something medical going on, but frankly I doubt it. A lot of ladies feel what you're feeling, right now.

I'd suggest talking it over with your husband, and trying to find new ways to bring a little more sexuality into your relationship. You don't have to tell him you're fantasizing about other dudes (unless you think he'd be into that,) but you can tell him that you're feeling crazy horny lately and a bit insecure. You can present this as an an opportunity, it doesn't have to be a big confession.

Even if he's not up for full-on intercourse more often, you can probably come up with some fun stuff to do. If you tell him you're open to trying new, freaky stuff in bed, I suspect he'll at least be curious. If you guys haven't acted out your fantasies before, now's the time. This could be something for you to bond over, really.

Maybe you could take a tango class together or something. Go on a weekend trip to a B&B, and poke like devils. A few weeks of passionate screwage could help you feel wanted, and clear a lot of this up.

Beyond your marriage, there may be ways for you to harmlessly get your sexy on. Maybe get dolled up and go dancing with some friends. (Check out the club listings in your area, and maybe look for retro/glam/1980s/1990s stuff so there will probably be some other over-30s around and you won't get stuck dancing to Nicki Minaj.) You could also try the massage/spa thing, so you'll get pampered and steamy.

A lot of this stuff sounds like boilerplate middle-aged lady Redbook advice, but I guess things become cliche for a reason. I'm a big ol' perv, and my instincts tell me to tell you to experiment with all sorts of kinky shit you probably want nothing to do with. (Like, take your husband to a fetish club, and get spanked while he watches, and...) Explore the edges of your comfort zone. If you do have some crazy kinks you want to explore, bring 'em up with your mister. Why not?

42 is so not old. It's not so young, but it's not old. Sexy is more complicated at 42, but it's certainly doable. You can still be feminine and sexy, forget about it. Remember: no matter how old you get, you'll always be hot to somebody, somewhere. I mean, "Gilf" erotica is a thing. (In a couple of decades I may just fund my retirement by getting into "Granny Tranny" porn. It beats the hell out of being a Walmart greeter!)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:08 AM on August 2, 2014 [11 favorites]

I'm 45 and more interested in looking good than I used to be. I wouldn't say I am looking for people to want me, but I definitely want to look 'put together'. At 21, you can rock a sweatpants-in-the-supermarket-with-a-hangover look without looking like you've given up on life. I find it pleasurable and fun to take an interest in how I look, to put make up on, to wear decent bras, to figure out what looks good on me and more importantly, what I find fun to wear. I'm happier when I make an effort, for the most part.

I find myself being more shy and conscientious of my words around men instead of just being myself. I've dropped some of my interests because they are "unsexy". I have a fear that nobody will find me sexy now that I'm turning 42 and heading towards fifty.

While I think there's exactly zero wrong with most of what you said, there's lots that is wrong with this, as you know. I think you need to figure out: is this shyness and self-consciousness that is keeping you from doing things you enjoy due to feeling self-conscious about having made an effort to look good or due to fear you will not be found attractive? Or did you/do you find women who pay attention to appearances frivolous or silly?

I just want to be normal again, desire my husband only, and be myself.

First, you're normal. Second, I'm not clear on why desiring your husband only is necessary. Being emotionally and physically intimate exclusively is one thing, but your brain can do what it wants on it's own. It's a free brain. Third, this is yourself. It sounds like you're struggling with self-acceptance; you have grown older and are more interested in your appearance and changed but the younger self isn't more valid, it's just younger.

There are a lot of fashion blogs around (like alreadypretty) that are intelligent and that don't exist as based on principles like 'women should look good for men' or 'women should be skinny and young and white' but that clothes are fun and can be enjoyable and affirming and a useful tool for self-expression and self-exploration.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:01 AM on August 2, 2014 [14 favorites]

My concern for you is this desire to be attractive for men. Sure, we all have our levels of vanity, but needing this type of validation seems off to me. I'd check in with a doctor to have your hormone levels checked, and I might consider counseling.

You may be entering menopause and for some folks it's rather a mind-altering experience. I had a hysterectomy and went through it all at once, and started HRT hours later. Getting the hormones right is a challenge.

Just remember, you don't owe ANYONE a 'pleasant' appearance.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:49 AM on August 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm 50, and this all sounds very familiar and normal to me.

In my late 40s I went hog wild for makeup, for the first time ever. Fortunately I managed to retain enough sense to actually wear it only very moderately, and to focus on basic, effective skin care (also a new interest). For me this is definitely connected to feelings of trepidation about aging, as well as some regret about not having "made the most of" my appearance earlier in life (even though a. I managed to date a fair bit despite my relative unkemptness, and b. the mainstream U.S. styles of the '80s, when I was in my late teens and early 20s, were terrible to me even then). I also feel that this newfound preoccupation with my appearance relates to complicated feelings about my mother, including grief about her death and regret that she was unable to give me much of a sense of self-esteem as a woman and a sexual being. In any case I'm just rolling with it for now, within the bounds of my budget and generally low-key tastes. I do it largely to please myself; though there is some anxiety driving me, I try to keep a sense of perspective and humor about the whole thing (The Onion is on point this week). Enjoy!

Regarding the sex drive thing, I too experienced an upsurge of desire in my early 40s, which lasted for several years before dropping off noticeably (without disappearing, mind) right around when I went into menopause. Again: enjoy. :)
posted by FrauMaschine at 5:14 AM on August 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

I think the way to solve this is for your husband to have sex with you more frequently. Possibly with the help of Viagra. I, too, experience similar bouts of neediness/flirtation and I don't think it has anything to do with age; rather, it's about feeling securely wanted and not taken for granted. Which I believe your husband may be unconsciously doing.
posted by quincunx at 5:56 AM on August 2, 2014

My vote is that this is completely hormonal and normal at this stage of life for some women. Your body wants sex, sex, sex. And more sex. It knows you are closing in on the end of your fertile years and biologically, it wants to make the most of it.

As your libido is higher than your husbands and you are not getting you body's "fill" of sex from him, perhaps your latent hormonal fueled desires are coming out in these other ways?

I agree with previous posters and believe you should talk with your husband about bringing more sexuality into your relationship.

Good luck!
posted by fourpotatoes at 7:09 AM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am happily married and my husband and I have a great sex life. I would like sex more than once a week but our libidos are at different levels in our forties. I want it more and he wants it less. I don't want to force it because it's hotter when he really wants sex so I wait for him to initiate.

I strongly suspect this is mostly about you not getting laid often enough to meet your current needs. I strongly suspect that if you can find a way to get adequate amounts of sexual release, your pre-occupation with being found attractive, etc, will largely dissipate. Because I basically do the same thing if I am not getting what I need and I mostly stop caring what anyone thinks if, you know, the cat is adequately fed.
posted by Michele in California at 10:14 AM on August 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Maybe think about the fact that many people will find you much more attractive when you're doing the non-stereotypically-feminine things you enjoy and wearing non-stereotypically-feminine things you like. Boy clothes can be really cute.
posted by steinwald at 12:16 PM on August 2, 2014

Do the fake pick-up routine in a hotel. meet randomly there, pretend like you don't know one another and then he picks you up. then get a room.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:19 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not sure why you think dressing "feminine" will make you more attractive. Sexiness, to me, is more about embodying who you are with confidence - being comfortable and natural, as well as in tune with what looks good on you.

People seem to want people who want themselves. Echoing Ruthless Bunny here, but focus on being pleased with yourself. Everything you've described - dropping your hobbies, being deferential to and shy with men, trying to be super feminine - sounds the opposite of attractive to me.

Get back into your hobbies, take great care of yourself inside and out, and know that if you feel sexy and accepting of yourself as you really are, you will exude confidence and sexiness with others, no matter your age.
posted by Gray Skies at 10:55 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

« Older Cleaning mold from a china teapot   |   Which neighbourhood in St. John's Newfoundland... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.