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Attention-Starved Spouses

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Wool94 posted 6/15/2019 06:54 AM

I too am a hugger. Maybe that's why the cap and I are friends.

In the south, as pinkpggy pointed out, it's not uncommon to hug.

I do see your point as well though, SisterMilkshake. For some it is just feeding fuel to the fire.

OrdinaryDude posted 6/15/2019 08:07 AM

Hugs are cool, everybody seems to like to hug me...I guess it’s because I’m like a big bear that might lift you up off the ground, lol.

cocoplus5nuts posted 6/15/2019 08:14 AM

I'm not a hugger (even though I grew up in and live in the south). My mom was not a hugger. It just wasn't something we did. When I had kids, I made a conscious effort to highlight them often because I didn't want them to feel the way I did. Bit, I digress.

I have never hugged a strange man. I have hugged women I didn't know very well, usually because they hugged me. I would be creeped out if some strange man tried to hug me. Don't even think about kissing my cheek! Oddly enough, I've been wearing my new tank top that says, "Free mom hugs," but that's for pride month, so not the same.

I agree that people need to continue to court their partners. I'm sure a lot of Ms end in D because at least one partner felt unloved from not getting enough attention. It's cliche, isn't it? "You don't buy me flowers anymore."

Unhinged posted 6/15/2019 08:25 AM

Brother, you just described my wife. The POSOM was a serial cheater who preyed upon such women.

ETA: You're a great hugger (for a Cubs fan )

[This message edited by Unhinged at 8:32 AM, June 15th (Saturday)]

CaptainRogers posted 6/15/2019 09:04 AM

You're a great hugger (for a Cubs fan )

You're making me blush, Unhinged. ☺️

k8la posted 6/15/2019 12:23 PM

We're all lonely. We all are attention starved.

My husband would love to give me his undivided attention, because then he would have my undivided attention. 24/7. And he would still be starving.

We were talking about loneliness last night. I asked him if he really wanted to go there. I said that I didn't want to have the "me-too" aka justification conversation we'd always had around loneliness. He asked what I meant. I said I wanted the real kind of empathy that actually steps into the discomfort of the deficit and the amends needed. That the man he was can't make the necessary amends to fill the deficit. (he spent 20 years diddling at self-employment and grooming other women on line in 12 step forums before I caught him in a full fledged online affair) He has never earned enough income to even cover his own rent if he lived on his own, let alone pay car payments, insurance, food, etc. Even now, his income goes to fix up things HE wants around our home. The conversation clocked him side the head, but also brought out his list of inadequacies/impossible-to-fix kind of things. He wonders why I can be in the same room as him and stay focused on everything else BUT him. I told him I'm lonely in the maintenance of our lives. And he's welcome to join me but I'm not going to join him in a homeless life.

[This message edited by k8la at 12:24 PM, June 15th (Saturday)]

pureheartkit posted 6/18/2019 00:29 AM

I think they are responding to your good and honest nature. A kind and openhearted person is like fresh air or pure water to a starved person. It's a comfort and relief to be understood or even considered. The hugging is a statement of thanking you for your kindness or being grateful for being understood.

I remember a conversation with a person in forestry and we talked for 30 to 40 minutes on several subjects we both cared about. He looked on me with a look that said finally, someone understands. People need to be understood, to be valued, to be more than a person doing work.

To be alone, neglected or misunderstood in a marriage is crushing.

StillLivin posted 6/18/2019 00:46 AM

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

Again. No. Only women with crappy boundaries would engage in inappropriate conversation and/or behavior. These women would also use any other excuse for an affair. Lots of folks get ignored by their spouses. The ones with good boundaries don't cheat, they communicate with their partner their unhappiness. If the spouse do3ant correct their behavior, they try options like counseling, or they get divorced.
I agree that men shouldn't starve their wives from attention, but not because shell cheat. A woman of integrity would just leave his ass.

whatIknowNow posted 6/18/2019 06:19 AM

Shout to anoldlion with whom I agree completely.

A dysfunctional marriage may not justify infidelity, but to claim it has nothing to do with it is ludicrous.

deephurt posted 6/18/2019 07:31 AM

Personally I think it’s down to your own personality deficiency’s
I was definitely attention starved. My wh was never around. Always out doing “his thing”. He would go from work to sports and come home at 10 or 11 pm wondering why I didn’t have dinner in the table for him. His way of seducing me was to say “let’s go”. Then wondering why I didn’t want to have sex and saying that I should want him as soon as I see him. That was my life for at least 15-20 of our married years.

My wh was the one that cheated and said he felt lonely. That loneliness was his choice. My loneliness really wasn’t but I wasn’t really lonely because I am happy to be by myself. I can entertain myself and I am mature emotionally.

We are all responsible for our own happiness. I understand what you are saying however I feel that if people are mature emotionally, they would never cross that line because they don’t require anyone else to make them happy. They do that all on their own. I do however, believe that there is a huge amount of the population that is not emotionally mature.

swmnbc posted 6/18/2019 07:44 AM

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.

I am curious how you incorporate this thinking into your own situation. Was your WW starved of attention inside your marriage? We know she had written it off with a counselor. Your description of how these women's husbands didn't connect with and support them properly reads as BS blaming to me. You didn't pay enough attention to me . . . Or is this OM blaming? The predatory OM saw an attention starved woman ripe for the picking . . .

I'd rather view affairs as something adult humans can choose or not choose to have.

Chaos posted 6/18/2019 08:01 AM

I think it all comes down to personal character.

I'm a talker and a hugger. I am not a cheater.

And on the rare chance that someone may misinterpret my friendliness or use it as an excuse to "throw something out to see what sticks", I most assuredly decline. And tell my spouse.

CaptainRogers posted 6/18/2019 08:37 AM

It's actually neither, swmnbc. More of an observation of the various factors that converge to allow infidelity to happen. Yes, there is the predatory/serial AP who looks for a weakness and chooses to exploit it. From the outside, I saw that weakness in those wives.

I also heard the stories of "I have tried to connect by....but he doesn't care..." which shows me two sides of that coin. First, my wife claimed to the AP that she was "so alone" but as has been pointed out by you, me, and many others, that was probably close to 90% of her own doing (I'll take 10% responsibility because yes, I'm sure I stopped "paying attention" but that was a result of her withdrawal and rejection).

So, I wasn't really looking to place "blame" for something that never happened (my mind doesn't work that way). I was trying to make an observation regarding the desire for attention and the potential outcomes that could ultimately result from the search for filling that void. As deephurt reminds us, we are all responsible for our own happiness. I will say that I think there is a difference between unhappiness and loneliness. I have been lonely in my marriage for a large part of it. I sought connection and was rejected over and over. I sought it in inviting my wife into my world and by trying to engage in hers. She wouldn't allow me in and she wouldn't join me. I was lonely...but that doesn't mean I was unhappy.

I think that's where we can get things confused as the BS. When our WS says that they were never "unhappy" in the M, we have a hard time reconciling that with the "but I chose infidelity anyway." Unhappiness isn't the only trigger for the decision. There are a multitude of other possibilities ranging from entitlememt to selfishness to narcissism to loneliness...and everything in between. We see that in every A that shows up on SI. There are similarities in most all situations, but the triggers for the behaviors of WSs are quite varied with layers of complexity.

We cannot presume to know how every person will respond to their current situations, whether that is one of loneliness/disconnection or abuse or depression or FOO issues or anything else. I wasn't reporting these things to say that the women I observed were about to run out and hop in the sack with a stranger. It was simply an observation of human behavior and interaction where someone listened to their concerns and, as a result, they responded in a way that was more than a typical "Thank you. I appreciate that." because it spoke to a much deeper need they were feeling.

numb&dumb posted 6/18/2019 08:54 AM

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.

You know I never really understood this until after DDay and before we were reconciled. It was a time where I was completely checked out and lowered my defenses because I craved someone to listen to me and show that they'd care. Truth be told, my W tried in her own way, but I had a great big wall up. Nothing she was trying would have registered as anything but manipulative.

I thought the slippery slope was bull until then too. I got too close to a co-worker that I was spending a lot of time with. Traveling and such. When you travel and are two Americans in a very foreign country you naturally go places together. Eat together. Humans are social creatures. It is why one the strictest punishments in the American Penal system is solitary confinement. It can literally drive someone insane.

I stopped it once I realized what was happening. In turn it helped me empathize with my W. I started dropping my defenses and began to let her in again. I could understand it without condoning it. A big leap forward for me and our R.

I totally hear you cap. Once you see it is hard to ignore. At least you have good boundaries, cap. You handled it like a boss.

Giving someone a hug is not wayward behavior by itself, but how many stories have we heard about an A developing with someone slowly over time to the point that the WS seems genuine shocked and that "it just happened." Not everyone is able to identify these things and reinforce their boundaries.

That is the difference between wayward and non-wayward behavior. Boundaries and applying them when things begin to get too intimate with someone other than your spouse.

psychmom posted 6/18/2019 09:00 AM

This was my H. Attention-starved, alone, feeling shame for not living up to expectations, undiagnosed depression ....all that and never had been to IC to know how fucked up he was. How poor his coping skills ultimately would be.

Then the opportunity presented itself. He was vulnerable. He had no tools to resist. He was inevitably headed down the wayward path.

Pretty much sums up how my H became a WH. The situation + the broken person = disaster.

[This message edited by psychmom at 9:01 AM, June 18th (Tuesday)]

SisterMilkshake posted 6/18/2019 10:38 AM


how my H became a WH. The situation + the broken person = disaster.
I feel this how so many, not all, become WS's. That is why I don't feel the maxim "if not this AP, it would have a been another" applies to all WS's, either. As numb&dumb posts
an A developing with someone slowly over time to the point that the WS seems genuine shocked and that "it just happened."
This isn't an excuse, it is what I feel happens to many WS's, to varying degrees, and not some long, premeditated mission.

crazyblindsided posted 6/18/2019 11:16 AM

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 agree with this StillLivin coming from someone who had a revenge A. My coping skills were so bad after I discovered my WS's 1st A. Who is to say that I wouldn't have cheated first given the situation. I could have cheated just as easily as my WS. I recognize that now. It really is what I work at the hardest now is what I can control and I want to feel good about myself. Infidelity does not make you feel good about yourself. It may be a temporary high but comes with a big letdown.

Notthevictem posted 6/18/2019 14:48 PM

Why, when the term is used, is it always women who suffer from 'attention starvation'?

I mean this not to try to bring up some sort of gender bias dialogue but to point out that there is a social gender stereotype.

What would a man who suffers from the same illness look like or how would one behave?

(And don't you dare say 'he'd make a bunch of fart jokes', captain, I know you were thinking it!!)

[This message edited by Notthevictem at 2:48 PM, June 18th (Tuesday)]

LostHope8008 posted 6/18/2019 15:27 PM

What would a man who suffers from the same illness look like or how would one behave?

On this site? He’d be called a sex addict, abusive, a jerk, stupid, get my point.

DevastatedDee posted 6/18/2019 15:35 PM

On this site? He’d be called a sex addict, abusive, a jerk, stupid, get my point.

Well, if he decided that he needed more attention (because the kids got more attention than he did) and he went and slept with lord only knows how many prostitutes, then yeah...I'd call him all those things.

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