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Attention-Starved Spouses

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Rideitout posted 6/18/2019 16:43 PM

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

Because "attention" and "love" and "dreams of a future together" seem like more "noble" goals than "I just wanted some pu**y". Which, of course, is a major driver in a lot of male affairs. But it just doesn't sound good, so people don't say it, IMHO, of course. "My husband wasn't giving me the love I needed" seems like a much more noble reason to have an A than "My wife won't give me a proper BJ".

Beachwalker posted 6/18/2019 19:26 PM

HI, SISTER!: You referenced:

an A developing with someone slowly over time to the point that the WS seems genuine shocked and that "it just happened."

My wife said that to me when in a counseling session, and without missing a beat, I responded, “You didn’t ‘just happen’ to meet at the same hotel at the same time; You didn’t ‘just happen’ to go to the same hotel room; Your clothes didn’t ‘just happen’ to fall off; You didn’t ‘just happen’ to get in bed together; And he didn’t ‘just happen’ to go inside you! This meeting was premeditated – planned – and you knew what was going to go on once you got there, once you were naked and lying on the bed! NONE of this ‘just happened’, you wanted this – you planned this!”

Perhaps my words were harsh, but I still can’t wrap my mind around them having sex and it “just happened”. To me, that phrase sounds like an accident took place, and this was no accident. It involved planning and accidents aren’t planned. To me, “just happened” is a way to not take responsibility for one’s own decisions.

I wish you could hear my tone of voice as I type this. Yes, I am angry, but when I read your response it made me think there might be some truth to what my wife said. So, I’m reaching out to you to help me understand how my wife’s scenario could “just happen”. When the situation was reversed and women hit on me, I didn’t respond by flirting back. I made the decision 30 years ago to never respond in that fashion, then I wouldn’t end up in bed with some OW. And I do understand the slippery slope, which is what my wife went through. But instead of responding early in the relationship by pushing this guy away, she responded coyly. SHE started down the slippery slope, and willingly. To me, the “just happened” is at the bottom of the slope, the inevitable end of the ride. She had a lot of time to get off and stop the relationship, but she chose lots of little “yes”es along the way, continuing the ride down the slope.

So, SISTER, help! How on God’s green earth does sex in a hotel room after work “just happen”?

SisterMilkshake posted 6/18/2019 19:37 PM

@Beachwalker I don't believe or feel it just "happens". I was agreeing with numb&dumb who posted bout WS's reacting with genuine shock and saying feeling like it "just happened". But, it doesn't "just happen". It is a series of boundaries being crossed. It could start with hugs. *shrug* But, they cross boundary after boundary. Once the first boundary is crossed each boundary crossed gets easier and easier. Next thing they know they are fucking in a car in a park and "it just happened". FWH told me "I just want you to know, we were friends first". Well, YAY! I am glad you didn't just grab a random stranger off the street and start fucking her. I think they call that rape.

CaptainRogers posted 6/18/2019 20:42 PM

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

Because no men gave me a hug, NtV. If one had, I may have been able to perceive his attention deficit as well. 🤗

[This message edited by CaptainRogers at 7:05 AM, June 19th (Wednesday)]

Emotionalhell posted 6/19/2019 05:51 AM

I have joked about hugging total strangers bc I’m in need of some attention

cocoplus5nuts posted 6/19/2019 08:13 AM

I do understand the slippery slope, which is what my wife went through. But instead of responding early in the relationship by pushing this guy away, she responded coyly. SHE started down the slippery slope, and willingly. To me, the “just happened” is at the bottom of the slope, the inevitable end of the ride. She had a lot of time to get off and stop the relationship, but she chose lots of little “yes”es along the way, continuing the ride down the slope.

My fch did the same thing. I think he knew what he was doing the entire time. Do I think his plan the whole time was to cheat? No. But, I do think he knew he was doing something inappropriate from the get go. Otherwise, why hide it from me? He said he thought he could handle it. He said he thought he wouldn't let it go too far. The only thing that just happened was him meeting the MOW.

He told me that he had no expectation of sex when he invited her over for dinner, even after all the sexting. Sex was not his intention. He cooked. They ate. He sat down on the bed. She sat next to him. Next thing he knew, they were kissing and she was sucking his dick. Oh, my! How did that happen? Why in the world would he think that might happen after she had been telling him for weeks that she would do just that to him?

And, let's not forget about how he invited her over a week or so after that and they fucked. But, again, he had no expectation or intention of sex. Had no idea how it happened again. No sane adult would believe that shit.

What he should have done was shut her down with the first bikini pic she sent him, or when she said, "You are stellar. I would squat you anytime." (Can't remember which was first.) He says he thought that was a typo and she meant to say, "outsquat". Yeah, right.

I asked him if he really wanted me to think he was that stupid.

Zugzwang posted 6/19/2019 09:30 AM

I can speak from a cake eaters POV. I got attention. I still wanted more. I was a goldfish when it came to attention. No matter how much I got, I was never satisfied because I wasn't happy with myself or loved myself enough. These woman suffer the same. If they had enough self love and respect, they would be doing something different in their lives instead of sharing and hugging total strangers. They would have divorced by now or communicated in a different way to their husbands that weren't so-called paying them enough attention. Anyone that cheats and chooses to hurt other people to get attention has an unhealthy and unrealistic want/need for attention just simply because they are willing to hurt other people to get it.BTW, I am male. I wanted undivided attention from everyone around me. I have seen and had two EA affairs with women that did the same. Believe me, they were getting attention from many sources. So, the whole thing about leaving a wife/husband vulnerable to cheat is BS. They leave themselves to cheat. They put themselves into the situations and they set their standards/goals/wants/needs/desires and they chose their own way to deal with it. As a WS I call BS on "leaving one vulnerable" we don't and it doesn't exist. That isn't owning shit. We chose period. We chose what existed before we cheated, so there isn't some vulnerability in the equation at all.

SisterMilkshake posted 6/19/2019 10:38 AM

I would squat you anytime.
I have never heard this expression before. How classy. How romantic. Who could possibly resist?

Zugzwang posted 6/19/2019 14:01 PM

I will add this:

Marriages are never open or vulnerable to an affair. A marriage is what it is upon the contract of getting married. Between two people. Period. (Unless you are from some sister-wives thing) One person chooses to be a cheater. They aren't vulnerable. They just choose to be self serving. I really don't get how any BS or WS would even use the word vulnerability and still use "own it" and "accountable" in the same sentence or expectations when recovering unless you are choosing to blameshift or rugsweep to live with the fact that one person chose to hurt another person easier. Eventually the horror and reality of the cheater just choosing to be self serving at the expense of another will eat any intimacy away and trust will never be established if you choose to latch on to the excuse of "vulnerability".

CaptainRogers posted 6/19/2019 14:41 PM

My point was about the people, not the marriage. People are vulnerable when they have crappy boundaries or when they respond in one way or another. Temptation is real and the way to combat that temptation (in regards to any activity that could be harmful) is to make a decision that leads away from the path of destruction.

I hate to reduce things to this level, but track with me (and realize that I am in no way comparing the following to having an A; this is pure reduction):

I love to eat a nice pasta meal prepared by my wife. I have vowed to eat only her pasta and no one else's. And she makes a wonderful linguine with broccoli, exquisite spaghetti with tomato sauce and the absolute BEST penne alfredo.

One late afternoon on a day that I haven't eaten breakfast and I missed lunch because of a meeting, I drive past a Fazzoli's. I know the pasta at Fazzoli's isn't as good as what my wife makes, but I'm hungry. So I pull into the parking lot.

I still remember that I vowed to not eat any pasta my wife didn't prepare. But the garlic bread smells so good. No! I'm not going to eat it. But I'm soooooo hungry. And we haven't had pasta in weeks! And the last time she made it, she burned the sauce. And the pasta wasn't quite perfectly aldente.

This exposes a vulnerability within myself. Not within my marriage. Not that my wife created. Simply within me. Yes, I have a choice to make. I can stay true to my vows, go home and ask my wife when she will make pasta again. I can express my desire for pasta more often. I can tell a co-worker (or a stranger) how much I love pasta with the hopes that they will dish some up for me.

Recognizing the vulnerability within oneself and seeing the potential for bad decisions in situations is absolutely necessary.

emergent8 posted 6/19/2019 15:14 PM

My take:

A lot of people cheat because they are feeling sad (or insecure, or lonely, or ashamed, or guilty, or weak/powerless, etc), and look to others for (external) validation. I don't think this is gender specific. There seems to be a belief that women cheat for attention and men cheat for sex. This is not universally true of course, but even if it were, sex and attention are BOTH forms of external validation. I think we all run into trouble when we treat sex and attention like they are somehow totally different.

Due to gendered differences in socialization, I think men tend to find sexual attention particularly validating. Yes, sex itself feels good, but more than that, it makes them feel desired, gratified, powerful and important. Women, on the other hand, have grown up in a world where they believe that much of their worth is dependent on the attention of men (or their ability to command the attention of men). This is where the difference comes from.

I think its normal and healthy to want to be validated by others, to a certain extent. Humans are social creatures and our species would not have survived if we were not motivated by feelings of approval, love and acceptance. The danger comes when a person's self-esteem is largely or entirely dependent on validation from others (a problem that MANY waywards seem to have). If you cannot self-validate, and your self-esteem is totally wrapped up in achievement/approval from others, you are never really going to be truly happy and instead, you'll always striving for the next "like", the next "gold star", or ego kibble. The need for external validation is therefore a vulnerability

Another problem occurs when we do not feel validated in our marriages. We all just want to be seen, loved, valued and desired, and so when seek validation from our spouse (the person who we value most of all) and we do not receive it, it feels like a rejection. Over time, repeated rejections can have a devastating impact on self-esteem. In order to protect ourselves from further rejection, we might disengage or withdraw from our spouse. This can create a cycle of rejection which may lead to resentment (by one or both parties). Resentment can lead to feelings of entitlement, and entitlement may enable a crack in the door that no one ever expected to be opened.

Before anyone begins to get mad at me, let me be very clear that don't think any of this makes cheating right. Nor do I think that any amount of rejection from one's spouse is justification for cheating (it's not!!!) But when I think about it this way, it helps me understand how repeated rejections could cause someone, particularly someone with poor self-esteem and/or poor boundaries, to be vulnerable.

StillLivin posted 6/19/2019 15:39 PM

When I was attention starved, a good looking man made a pass at me and also grabbed my ass. Not only was I repulsed, instead of receptive (even though I was at the absolute worst point in my marriage and a few weeks before my Dday), but I round housed the MFer, and then reported him for sexual harassment and sexual assault. Pretty much every wayward that's commented has said the same thing. Being ignored to the point of being sexually "starved" does NOT mean you are vulnerable to an affair. It means you're miserable in your marriage. All being sexually "starved" does is weed out the folks that would have had an affair anyway if other crap got thrown at them. Having bad coping skills/low self worth is what makes you vulnerable to an affair. When you have bad coping skills, you don't know how to handle when life gets tough and real and you may decide to have an affair. It's the bad coping skills and low self worth, not feeling "starved" for affection that allows a person to give themself permission to have an affair.

CaptainRogers posted 6/19/2019 15:55 PM

Not only was I repulsed, instead of receptive (even though I was at the absolute worst point in my marriage and a few weeks before my Dday), but I round housed the MFer

StillLivin, I would have paid to see that!

CaptainRogers posted 6/19/2019 15:56 PM

No anger here, emergent8. I think you said what I was thinking behind the scenes.

emergent8 posted 6/19/2019 16:56 PM

CaptainRogers - I think so too. I like what you said about the situation exposing a vulnerability. I think we're talking about the same thing.

million pieces posted 6/19/2019 16:58 PM

CaptainRogers - I think I get what you are saying. People with poor boundaries AND attention-starved are more susceptible to cheating. Not all people with poor boundaries, not all attention-starved people, and not all people with both, but just more susceptible. And not all cheating is from this combination. Pretty sure this is what happened between my ex and I. I was exhausted from two little kids and a younger woman was looking to trade up (monitarywise) from her husband. He had poor boundaries, the rest is history. Doesn't make him any less of a shit.

I remember a good friend of mine describing an interaction. She was just getting back to work after having her first child (later in life ~40) and on a business trip with a younger, handsome coworker. After a long flight overseas, a few cocktails, and some undivided male attention, she found herself surprised in some of her body's reactions. She has good boundaries and nothing was started, but she described months of being a "mom" and very little validation as a woman. Here she was on a plane, having an adult beverage, out of sweats for the first time in months, the old her. She said she was shocked at her reaction at mild attention and she said she will always remember it and guard against it happening again, or at least recognizing what it is. I have many other girlfriends that have admitted/described similar reactions, and yes some who were not so insightful and eventually thought of it "love" or gosh, there must be something wrong with my marriage if I am swayed this easily. These women are no longer friends

I have also seen this with men, but honestly less so because I don't have many close male friendships anymore, at least none that would entail that kind of open talk.

[This message edited by million pieces at 5:02 PM, June 19th (Wednesday)]

StillLivin posted 6/19/2019 18:02 PM

StillLivin, I would have paid to see that!

StillLivin posted 6/19/2019 18:12 PM

People with poor boundaries AND attention-starved are more susceptible to cheating.

I can agree with this. But, then, I have to say, I wouldn't want a man that was faithful so long as everything was going his way. Life pulls us in different directions. Kids, work, my soldiers needing me, parents aging, all of these things can take my attention away temporarily. I want someone who has my back no matter what life throws at us because I'm going to have his back just as steadfastly. I dont need a lukewarm MFer. KWIM?
One of my Xhole's numerous BS excuses was that I didnt pay him enough attention. I was confused because I'd made him my everything. He quantified his excuse by telling me how much time id spent cooking HIS dinner, doing HIS resume, and applying for jobs for HIM. Then he added that I left him for several hours that past weekend. Yep, I went shopping for his interview suit so he could stay at home and relax. I'd asked him to come so we could spend time together. I was the only one attention starved. If we hadn't been married, I'd have packed my shit a long time ago. As it was, I tried talking to him about how starved I was for his attention, time, and affection with zero results. I'd already did some internet research for divorce. By the time I found out about Shrek (Dday), I was pretty close to done. I should have been the one to have an affair according to the stereotype reasons for having an affair. I was so damned miserable and lonely. If I'd had poor boundaries and didn't know my worth, I would have stayed and probably cheated. Thank goodness for boundaries and integrity.

[This message edited by StillLivin at 6:13 PM, June 19th (Wednesday)]

DragnHeart posted 6/19/2019 18:24 PM

I think the Bs is more likely the one starving for attention and oh guess what, the one that doesn't cheat...Go figure. Personally I think WS use the "I needed more attention" as just another excuse to cover up shitty boundaries and choices.

I was always asking him to spend time with ME. But he was to busy with them to bother with MY needs.

Rideitout posted 6/19/2019 18:31 PM

I should have been the one to have an affair according to the stereotype reasons for having an affair.

Just wanted to say how much this resonated with me. Because I feel that way all the time. Both by stereotype (the sex starved husband) and because, well, truth be told, I would have enjoyed it a lot more that my WW did. Affairs are comprised of something I really enjoy, NSA sex. I could give two hoots about the attention, and I wouldn't have liked all the lying, but I would have really enjoyed the sex, no doubt about it. I'm also the one who travels all the time and has ample opportunity to do it, and a group of friends who would happily cosign it for me.

Why didn't I? It comes down to one thing, I gave my word that I wouldn't. Not because it doesn't hold appeal (it does) and not because I think I'm above it (I'm not). I said I wouldn't. Simple as that.

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