Question by Maxine:
I have been in my relationship with my male partner almost 2 years. We are both professionals in our 50s & 60s respectively, though he has to be the worlds oldest teenager lol.
What’s really hurting me is his knack of referring to other women’s breasts. This can be really random, drunk or sober.
I feel it crosses a line of respect toward both me and the ladies he refers to. It’s now leaving me feeling inadequate and a fool. I might add he is impotent and I have sacrificed intimacy for a loving relationship yet I now am questioning how much more of my life I should invest in this relationship.
I could also add I have small breasts which he seems to adore but then when he “gobs off” it leaves me feeling inadequate and humiliated.
Is this perhaps my own inadequacy or would other ladies feel the same? Can anyone help me?
I would be so grateful. Thank you.
You are in a difficult position. Not only are you unhappy with the way your partner is acting, but you are also having doubts about your own worth!
Each of those conditions alone will disrupt your happiness, but together the situation is multiplied which creates additional pain.
Understanding His Behavior
Let’s look at your partner’s behavior first.
He has been making off-handed comments about other women’s bodies in front of you. Most women will definitely be bothered by this conduct, so it is no surprise that he has offended you. Not only do his remarks make you feel disrespected, but they also cause your sense of value to be diminished.
To be frank, no matter how much we wish otherwise, it is natural for men to notice attractive features of other women. In the same way, it is common for women to notice a handsome man.
However, it is uncommon to share those thoughts within an affectionate relationship.
So why does he do it?
One possibility is that he has developed an insecurity related to his impotence (as you mentioned in your question). This insecurity may actually lead him to act out in ways that exaggerate his “manliness.”
Of course, there is nothing masculine about making tasteless comments. It’s a schoolboy’s behavior, simply “big talk” used to puff himself up, and it is probably an unconscious way he covers up his vulnerability.
Like many of us, he may not be aware of how his own self-worth directs his behavior. You have accepted his impotency because you have found a loving relationship with him, but there may still be a part of him that needs to come to terms with it.
You sound as if you would like the relationship to continue as long as he will stop demeaning you and other women. If you have already told him that there is a problem and he hasn’t changed, it may be time to try a different approach.
If you have not told him, there is an easy method of gaining his attention as follows.
The right way to approach this situation
The best way to open his mind to change is helping him see the situation from your point of view.
Accusations only heighten our defenses.
Begin the conversation by opening up about your own insecurity – your breasts.
By telling him that you feel inadequate (don’t even mention his rude comments at first), you give him a preview to where the conversation is leading. You will also disarm him by your vulnerability.
1.) Awaken his curiosity and empathy
Introduce the subject by saying something such as “Recently I feel like I am not good enough, and I don’t know what to do. Can I talk to you about it?”
This should trigger curiosity and empathy within him and he will begin to listen. If he is a complete smart aleck-you did mention that he is the “world’s oldest teenager,” you may need to persist by rephrasing and repeating your request.
2.) Express your feelings (without addressing his behavior)
Tell him that you are self-conscious about your chest size. Without bringing his behavior into the conversation, express why you feel this way.
Note: This part may be difficult if his comments are the only source of your anxiety: If so, simply say that you worry that your breasts are not good enough.
3.) Help him identify with you
Ask him if he ever feels insecure about things he cannot change and how he copes with it? This type of question will help him identify with you.
Even if he says that he never feels insecure, you can bet that he is thinking about at least one or two times when he felt not good enough. That’s okay. He doesn’t need to say anything out loud for this question to be successful. You have helped him reflect.
4.) Explain what is bothering you
If he is sympathetic to your feelings, you can finally tell him what is bothering you. Let him know that when he mentions other women, you feel even further pain. It would be best not to accuse him.
Keep this about how you feel and not how he acts.
This gentle technique will not only help you open up the lines of honest communication, it also provides both of you an opportunity to experience acceptance and deep love.
Do some self-reflection
After you have spoken to him, take some time to decide whether the relationship is worth your investment. Monitor whether he improves his behavior. Then think about your own feelings – do you feel more at ease and less bothered by feelings of inadequacy?
As you go forward, remember that the same loving-kindness that you have offered to your partner is the same loving-kindness you must give to yourself.