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Attention-Starved Spouses

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CaptainRogers posted 6/14/2019 19:08 PM

Let me preface this with the following:

I am in no way condoning infidelity, promoting extra-marital behavior, or excusing any similar actions. This is merely an observation of the desires inside of those I have interacted with today and the potential for poor, selfish choices that could result.


I am currently at a convention (as a vendor) where there are roughly 5,000 attendees. What I do in the finance world has a nominal tie to the conference overall. Most (95%+) of the attendees here are not even looking for what I do. But my presence is a disruptor to the endless booths of curriculum and educational games. Plus, I have chocolate.

Today, I have spent time (minutes, not tens of minutes) speaking to two women, both of whom I could read as attention-starved. They were not specifically seeking out attention from me, but they are at places in their family's lives where my counsel is a priority for them.

As such, in only a few minutes with each of them, I know some of the deepest issues in their financial situations. And in both instances, the husbands are not what I would call "fully supportive". They seem to be more of the "if that's what you want to do, then go ahead" kind of support and these women are craving the "grab me by the hand and let's run straight into the water together" kind of support.

If I were a manipulative, self-serving, selfish individual, I am certain that either of them (who both live local to the conference and are attending without their spouse) would have accepted any advance I would have made. Not because they are weak and seeking it from outside their marriage, but because they are attention starved inside their marriage. How do I come to know this? Because of the hugs each of them gave a virtual stranger and the looks & waves as they walked through the vendor hall, all given to someone who simply listened to their issues, gave some feedback, and told them that there is a way out that is less complicated than they currently believe.

I know that as a BS, we see the scars of infidelity everywhere. We can read it on faces and hear it in voices. But I think the "opportunities" are seen a little more clearly as well. Reading the situations, it was easy for me to see where an invitation to "talk about this more over dinner" would have been accepted with eagerness.

I see the patterns in behaviors and hear the cues in the voices and it makes me sad. Sad that there is so much hurt out there for those who are starved for attention. And even sadder that someone who doesn't care about the sting of infidelity would gladly inflict it without any conscience at all.

Yes, it takes "two to tango" and conscious decisions have to be made. But when that dopamine kicks in, logic and reason can go out the window. I pray that these things are noticed by both of the women I talked to today, so that they don't open themselves to something they will regret later.

Odonna posted 6/14/2019 19:20 PM

Thank you for this. You speak the truth, sadly.

Tallgirl posted 6/14/2019 19:54 PM

It is sad. Iíd say I am attention starved but you wouldnít know that if you met me at a conference.

Marriages can be the loneliest places on earth. Trapped and no escape or reprieve.

I went for a facial once during his A. The woman who did the facial told me i should go for a Swedish massage because human touch was healthy and I needed it. I still donít know how she knew. I am curious now, then I was mortified.

You are most observant Captain.

ibonnie posted 6/14/2019 20:04 PM

Maybe they're waywards, maybe they're not. Maybe they're just super friendly huggers. I think you're making a lot of assumptions about some strangers.

I was most definitely attention starved before and during my husband's A, to the point where he stopped sleeping in bed with me (even on the weekends) because he needed his sleep since he was going to work in the morning, and I... obviously didn't, because being on call 24/7 and nursing an infant every two hours is clearly a walk in the park, right?

Not because they are weak and seeking it from outside their marriage, but because they are attention starved inside their marriage.

Again, you're making assumptions about their marriages. How many BSs on here were starved for attention while their WH's rewrote marital history and convinced themselves their marriages were over or their BS wouldn't/didn't care? Meanwhile the BS is doing everything they can to make it work with someone that has just checked out?

I am curious now, then I was mortified.

Tallgirl, maybe you were really tense? Or... she was just trying to drum up business and make you think you needed to keep coming back lol.

[This message edited by ibonnie at 9:13 PM, June 14th (Friday)]

anoldlion posted 6/14/2019 20:55 PM

I have said this before. The female of the human species needs the attention of her mate. Marriage should never stop the courtship and communications between spouses. I learned this lesson the hard way. I have been married over 50 years and I still court my wife every day. Touching, teasing, little gifts now and then, flowers a couple of times a month. Now here is the kicker. Men, if you do not give the woman, you say you love, the attention, emotional connection, physical attention, and support she needs then don't be sooo surprised if she looks for it somewhere else. So many men say the sex has died in their marriage. My first question is, "what else has died". Is the courtship and communications dead also? I have seen men, who get up in the morning, say good morning to their wife, eat breakfast, give her a peck kiss and go to work. After work and on weekends, they socialize with their buddies, come home and eat supper then fall asleep in the front of the TV or get on an Xbox and play some stupid game until bedtime. They treat their wife like a piece of furniture and only take an interest in her when they want sex. Then 10 years down the road they lament about how they did everything for her and never thought she would have an affair. Not every man is like this but there are many that are. Just look around and notice. Preaching is over, and I do wish you well.

[This message edited by anoldlion at 8:58 PM, June 14th (Friday)]

AbandonedGuy posted 6/14/2019 21:01 PM

Ever since that wallop of a discovery and subsequent jaunt into The Single Life, I've been keenly aware of everyone's relationship woes and just how quickly and with what emotional undertone they communicate said woes. I hear this same kind of loneliness that you speak of in a lot of women, but at varying degrees. Some have outright told me that they're in a not so great place in their relationship, others have merely complained in a way that we all do when our spouse annoys us many years into a monogamous partnership--and some in this latter group do so in a way that seems to convey desperation.

It's funny because I can see in some of them a possible spark of future infidelity. I see what my ex-wife must've gone through whenever she hit whatever her rut was based on, be it me not giving her children, her not feeling "prestigious" enough because I was unemployed, or just her getting off on that oh-so-cool extramarital attention the kids are into these days. I can almost see the gears turning in their heads building up a case against these men who have no idea that their wives are casually complaining about them, even if just in a very benign way, to some asshole they work with or know socially.

To be fair, a few male friends are in the same boat as these women, but they tell me exactly where they stand so there's no guessing game involved, and one is a cheater and the other two are most definitely not.

pinkpggy posted 6/14/2019 21:02 PM

I agree with everything ibonnie said.

I know PLENTY of people who over share, hug too much and talk too much. My supervisor is one of them, she is single. The others are not cheaters.

I am an event planner. I have to interact at these types of events often. There IS ALWAYS someone over sharing, talking too much, getting too personal. Last time I had a man telling me about a suicide attempt of someone he knew (nature of my work). People hugged me. There are always people in need of someone to talk to, that doesn't make them potential cheaters.

I wasn't any innocence stary eyed fool looking for a man to listen to me when I chose to cheat. I knew exactly what I was doing.

I find your post curious. Marriages work both ways.

[This message edited by pinkpggy at 9:23 PM, June 14th (Friday)]

Cooley2here posted 6/14/2019 21:22 PM

Captain, I think what you wrote is from the heart. Those women were overly friendly to a vendor and you ask yourself why. Loneliness comes to mind. If they hugged you on their own they sound desperate. I have never hugged a stranger so I think you might be on to something.

SisterMilkshake posted 6/14/2019 21:22 PM

I had a man who had a bucket with a hole in it. No amount of my attention would have filled his bucket with enough attention that satisfied him. He needed attention from men, he had to be the center of attention at parties and all the men had to be listening to him and his braggadocious stories. He had to have the women swarmed around him listening to his funny stories. They would tell me how much fun it must be to be married to MisterSister. I told them "Yeah, I laugh all day long."

I wanted to be the one that he told those amusing stories to. When he walked in the door from work I would greet him and say "Hi, how was your day?" I was greeted with a scowl and told to leave him alone, he just got home from work, he needed his down time, stop bugging him. He would never talk to me, never give me attention, yet he needed so much attention that he had to get a side slunt to give him the attention he "needed".

I understand your point, CaptainRogers. However, it wouldn't be hard for me to believe that those women's husbands were WS's.

edit: correct spelling P.S. Also, I wouldn't hug a stranger. That IS some boundary crossing, imo. Which brings me to, how do you and your wife feel about you hugging strange women? Would you be okay if your ww hugged strange men?

[This message edited by SisterMilkshake at 9:39 PM, June 14th (Friday)]

StillLivin posted 6/14/2019 21:42 PM

My X completley ignored me for 2 years, no hugs, caresses, or sex. I was extremely attention deprived. I am attractive, and I got hit on. It never occurred to me to cheat. I did, however, start looking into the legalities of divorce in case I decided to go that route. If someone is attention "starved" and cheats, they would have cheated anyway the first time the wind blew in the right direction because they'd have shitty coping skills and lack of their own self worth. I've been celibate since my divorce because I refuse to settle. I'm perfectly fine, so tell me more about this attention starvation. Hmmm.

MalibuBayBreeze posted 6/14/2019 21:54 PM


The female of the human species needs the attention of her mate. Marriage should never stop the courtship and communications between spouses.

I compare it to a plant needing water to flourish. Personally speaking, yes as a woman there is a need for that attention. It doesn't have to be anything over the top, a simple hug, a kiss, or a kind word will do. I have heard many women complain that their husbands have completed stopped making any effort. Their thought process seems to be there is no need to treat the wife the way they did when she was the girlfriend and the relationship was new.

Years go by. They live together and life takes over bit by bit. Kids come, there's work, errands, driving from one kids league game to another and they find themselves too busy and too exhausted. They worked. They're carrying to heir load. Isn't that enough? Ummmm no. It's not. No relationship will sustain that early on aura of excitement as people are falling for each other and it settles into a comfortable zone.

But the little things, the small gestures carry so much weight and meaning, having the potential to put a smile on the wife's face. Make her happy. Too often it just is treated as an unnecessary effort. It's necessary.

Men, if you do not give the woman, you say you love, the attention, emotional connection, physical attention, and support she needs then don't be sooo surprised if she looks for it somewhere else. So many men say the sex has died in their marriage. My first question is, "what else has died".

They treat their wife like a piece of furniture and only take an interest in her when they want sex.

When men complain about the lack of sex in a marriage my reaction is to wonder how much of a jerk they had been acting like and then expecting wifey to be eager to have sex with them. A friend recently said in reference to her husband "You want to have sex with me then try being nice to me". As far as an attention starved woman looking for it elsewhere I say bullshit. I was and am attention starved. Would I love a nice, warm, genuine hug? Yes. Would I want to fuck someone else and wreck my marriage and family as well as someone else's for attention? No. Absolutely not. If my integrity flies out of the window for some attention, then I never had any to begin with. It's there or it's not just as with boundaries.

Plus, I have chocolate.

Would that be Belgian chocolate?

Thanksgiving2016 posted 6/14/2019 21:58 PM

This has to do with people who donít have boundaries. I do not feel sorry or make excuses for them like the people who stand to close to you when speaking. I was plenty attention starved during my husbandís affair and wasnít hugging strangers or telling people personal information that shouldnít be shared. Thatís wayward behavior either way. Disgusting to me just cake eaters looking for cake.

pinkpggy posted 6/14/2019 22:10 PM

I'm baffled as to when giving someone a hug became wayward behavior? Maybe a strange man. I'm surprised to hear people have never hugged a stranger. Kind of makes me sad. You've never met someone, gotten to talking and ended it with a hug? Maybe it's a southern thing.....

anoldlion posted 6/14/2019 22:21 PM

I have one other thing to say (applies to both men and women) about how you treat your spouse you are suppose to love. It's something I read not long ago.

"According to the Bible
love never fails.
So if it fails,
it wasn't love yet."

I do wish you well.

SisterMilkshake posted 6/14/2019 22:42 PM

In the pre d-day days, I was perfectly fine with whomever my FWH chose to hug. I was the "cool" wife and, silly me, I trusted him implicitly. However, this is now a boundary that we both have for ourselves. Although, I only hug family members and close friends. I always had those boundaries. I would totally freak out if a strange man tried to hug me.

Getting and giving hugs to strange women feeds my FWH wayward behaviour of needing attention from people. He isn't feeding that behaviour any longer. He has strong boundaries. He has practiced ways to sidestep hugs. He has stopped having to chat up every single waitress and sales womenn and trying to make them laugh. He doesn't need to have his ego stroked any longer, at least not by any one else other than me.

Hurtbeyondtime posted 6/14/2019 22:52 PM

Interesting that you would post this.. Hereís another example of attention starved scenarios...

I have been out of town working for the last week plus a couple days. Iím older and tired my legs get swollen after sitting in all day meetings with clients. After this crazy week I just want to kick my legs up and relax.
My husband would rather run to art gallery openings and then a neighbors birthday party.
Heís been gone over 6 hours... I can be you heís in the center of attention attracting all kinds of attention in this millennial apartment complex. I have no energy to check on him but with his EAs and gravitation towards young women I wouldnít be surprised if he was looking. Idk anymore nor do I care.

People who do this have terrible boundaries. I would say those women were probably Waywards looking for an opportunity.

You would never see me so desperate because I keep it to myself. When I am with a group of people Iím pleasant and polite but heís like a freakin emotional vampire and tooo many Biaches love to be sucked ď no pun intendedĒ

OrdinaryDude posted 6/14/2019 22:57 PM

I respectfully disagree with anyone that thinks itís to be expected that a lonely spouse will be a wayward...thatís 100% blameshifting and is always unacceptable, period.

My WW used this as an excuse while I was working 80+ hour weeks, recovering from a motorcycle accident, and battling undiagnosed depression...all at the same time.

She was simply a self-centered fool. Instead of living up to her vows and being my mate, she went elsewhere.

It almost cost me my life, and will NEVER be tolerated again.

No BS should ever accept blame for their WSís matter the circumstance.

CaptainRogers posted 6/14/2019 23:11 PM

Not Belgian chocolate. Just the only chocolate in the entire vendor hall (everyone else has colored sugar like Jolly Ranchers and suckers).

Because of what I do in the world of financial consulting/wealth management, I get a LOT of intimate details of financial lives. And I can tell when the details are weighing more heavily on folks than usual. I understand enough about the psychology of money that there is a great deal that I can read in what is said and, more importantly in what isn't said.

As to whether my wife would appreciate hugging strange women, I will say this. I am a hugger. I hug to say hello. I hug to say goodbye. Heck, I've even hugged Unhinged!

However, whenever I get that "odd" or "uncomfortable" sort of contact, my wife is the first person to know. In fact, after each of those interactions today, I texted her about what happened. That is a 180į difference from what she chose to pursue when the AP hugged her before they started dating. I get a weird hug & I told her. She got a weird hug and she called the guy who gave it to her to find out what his intentions were with it.

Ultimately, my observations were about the vulnerability of people and where lines can be crossed if you aren't aware of all that is happening.

SisterMilkshake posted 6/14/2019 23:14 PM

the vulnerability of people and where lines can be crossed if you aren't aware of all that is happening.
Yes, you do just have to be really aware of yourself and others interactions with you.

anoldlion posted 6/15/2019 02:08 AM

Please don't think I was suggesting that all attention starved women becomes a wayward. What I was suggesting was that a woman, who is ignored by her husband, stands more of a chance of looking for affection somewhere else than a woman who gets that attention from her husband. The divorce in the US stands presently between 40 to 50 percent and 40 percent of first marriages end in divorce. I wonder how many of those divorces was caused by spouses forgetting to show that their mate was the priority in their life. Many attention starved women and men don't look elsewhere for attention, but many do. I do wish you well.

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