There are lots of things that can make us feel more or less confident in our post-baby bodies. One of the biggest influences though is our partners attitude on how we look now that we’re a mum. If your partner is making you feel like you are still sexy it’s easy to feel great. But if your partner doesn’t seem interested in you or sex anymore it can really knock your confidence.
When we first get together as a couple we’re pretty much running on lust and passion so it’s easy to feel that you’re attractive and desirable. Fast forward a few years and chuck in a baby or two and all of those things have gone out the window. Most people know that after a baby an adventurous sex life is challenging. But in a healthy relationship your partner can still make you feel attractive. Even if sex is taking a bit of a back seat for now.
Ideally, when you are feeling a bit low about your body you’ll be able to tell your partner and get the reassurance you need. Sometimes though, this isn’t what happens. Well meaning comments (like just do some exercise) can really cut deep. Men often want to provide a solution but fail to see that all we really want is for them to say “you look great to me”. We don’t want encouragement to lose weight or tone up. We want to know that we are good enough just the way we are.
If you are in a situation where you feel your partner doesn’t find you attractive anymore it can be really painful. It can leave you wondering if he still loves you. Or if this is how your relationship is going to be from now on. It might make your relationship feel unfulfilling or even strained. It also might make you feel anxious that he wants someone else or is thinking about leaving.
So being in a relationship where you are worrying about this is stressful and it’s something that will only get better if you deal with it. Whilst it might feel like a huge problem it might not be so here are 5 things to ask yourself before you starting panicking.
Is it because of how you are viewing things?
What we get back from other people is often a reflection of our own internal feelings. For example, if deep down you feel like you need to lose weight, your partner will be picking up on this and so offer suggestions to help you. Any comments about changing your diet or exercise might hurt but they could be being driven by things that you have said to him previously. If you keep saying I need to lose weight then your partner is going to want to help you with this. If you said instead I want to be happy with who I am then you might find you get different responses.
Also how we feel will affect how we behave. If you are feeling unattractive then you might subconsciously be keeping your distance from him. Maybe you’ve stopped initiating affection because you’re afraid he won’t want you. Or you’re hiding away under baggy clothes because you feel self conscious. It’s worth remembering that sometimes the barriers between us in a relationship can come from us not our partners. So the first thing to check is is your partner mirroring back to you how you actually feel rather than it being what he feels.
Are you projecting your feelings on to him?
Projection is an emotional defence that we use when we don’t want to acknowledge our own painful feelings. Instead of letting ourselves be aware of them we unconsciously project them onto someone else. In this instance, you might be projecting your feeling that you are unattractive onto your partner. Simply put, you assume that they feel the same way that you do, even if you don’t want to admit that’s how you feel.
It’s really important that we recognise when we are projecting. By attributing our feelings to someone else we not only deny ourselves the chance to work through them but we also put barriers up and can get defensive. Plus it’s unfair on your partner. Whilst you are sitting there quietly being pissed off that he doesn’t find you attractive he’s probably completely unaware of how you are feeling and wondering what he’s done wrong!
Have you spoken to him about how you feel?
One of the things that often slips after you’ve been in a relationship for a while is communication. I’d bet that when you first got together you talked about anything and everything. Discussing how you felt and feeling comfortable being open and honest with each other. Fast forward to after a baby I and I suspect that most of your conversations revolve around baby topics and household chores. It’s not uncommon for us to hold back from telling our partners what’s really going on in our minds either. Sometimes this is because we are worried about what they will think of us. Sometimes it’s because we worry that we won’t get the response we want. And sometimes it’s because we don’t want to admit it out loud.
The problem with this is that if our partners don’t know how we feel then they won’t know that they could help us feel better. We might assume that they know but then feel worse because we’re wondering why they aren’t reassuring us. Here’s the thing though, people aren’t psychic. If we act like everything is OK then they might actually think that we’re OK. So if you haven’t talked to your partner yet about this it’s the first thing you should do. Tell him how you are feeling and you might be surprised by his response.
Are there any other problems?
We tend to think that attraction has to do solely with appearance. The truth is, however, that it’s a lot more complicated than that. In the early days of our relationships it’s unlikely that there was any strain on it. Those are the fun days. The getting to know you days and the putting a lot of effort in days. When you have a baby you are both under a lot of strain. Relationships issues are very common in new parents as adjusting to family life is challenging.
If you and your partner are struggling then it will be hard to feel attracted to each other. If you are bickering, annoyed with each other or critical then it creates an environment where one or both of you might be feeling unloved. And if you think that your partner doesn’t love or like you you’re not likely to want to jump into bed with them. Addressing any underlying relationship issues will help you both to feel more connected and like a couple. And once that happens the attraction will naturally return.
Is this the right relationship for you?
There are lots of reasons why the attraction between you might be a little off. Most of them can be resolved with communication and a bit of hard work. Sometimes though it can be a sign that the relationship is in real trouble. If your partner is disengaged with the relationship or detached then it’s time for a bit of soul searching. Especially if he is unwilling to look at ways you can improve your relationship together. I’d also add that if your partner is critical of your appearance or puts you down then that’s a major red flag.
It’s OK to want to be with a partner who finds you sexy. And if this isn’t what you have then it’s OK to think about if this is the right relationship for you. Sex is a big part of a relationship, as is how we feel when we are around our partners. Being in a relationship where we don’t feel wanted or don’t have intimacy is draining. It’s almost impossible to be happy in a relationship like this and sadly, sometimes the only way to get the relationship you want is to walk away. Hopefully this isn’t the case in a lot of circumstances but it’s worth just considering this before you start trying to make changes that won’t work because your partner doesn’t really want them.
There are a lot of things to consider if you are feeling like your partner doesn’t find you attractive. Talking to him is definitely the most important though because it may be that your fears are unfounded. It also means that he will know how you feel and can give you the reassurance you are looking for. Plus, if you talk to him and don’t get the response you hope for then it means you can start to think about the wider issues and what it might mean long term.
If you want help with how you are feeling or need support on any of these issues then drop me a line here to see how I can help.