Relationship Rules with Dr. Rodman

Help! Obsessed with My Partner’s Ex Being Hotter Than Me!

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Reader Not as Hot writes:

My husband and I have been married a little over a year now and are expecting our first child in January. For some crazy reason I asked the dumbest question to my husband on our one year anniversary. I asked if he thought his ex was prettier than me… dumb I know… but then he lied and said no. I could tell he was lying and it broke my heart. I immediately started crying. Not ever having looked at her before I decided to look her up on facebook and yup she’s gorgeous… I then find myself looking through all her pictures and criticizing myself on everything I could change about me to be that beautiful, that maybe he could find me prettier than her.. and now I feel incompetent. I just cant shake that he thinks she’s prettier than me, I’m even believing it now and my self esteem is going right down the drain. Any pointers on how to help me get over this or something I should do?

Dear NAH,

I am going to just trust you and say, okay, she’s hotter than you.  But here is my point: so what?  Big deal.  He married you, not her.  Guys are not idiots.  They don’t just judge who they are going to love and marry based on whether a woman is a 6 or an 8 on a 10 point scale.

Here seem to be the things guys care about:

1. Are you attractive in general, like nobody is going to openly make fun of them for being with you? (Don’t send me hate mail about how you or your husband are so self actualized that you don’t care if the whole world thinks you’re dating the ugliest person on earth.  This reader is probably in her 20’s so go back and empathize with the fact that 99% of people in that age range care that the entire world not think they are in love with Jabba the Hut. I could discuss evolutionary reasons for this but I would bore even myself.)

2. Do they themselves consider you attractive and sexy?

3. Are you a nice, kind, honest, loving person?

4. Are you smart and interesting?

5. Do you have things in common?

6. Are you going to go into an emotional tailspin if they don’t lie well enough about telling you that you’re hotter than their supermodel ex-girlfriend, that they didn’t even marry?

I am guessing you hit 5 of 6 of these requirements by virtue of the fact that your husband seems to have chosen you, decided to procreate with you, and even cares about your feelings enough to lie about having dated the hottest woman on earth prior to you.  Now you need to get a different perspective and then you can hit #6 too.

I would like you to say the following things to yourself out loud until you can say them without anxiety or sadness, even with humor or boredom.  Please try it.

1. That girl is way hotter than me.

2. She is totally hotter than me.

3. It would be a bold faced lie for anyone to say I am hotter, or even equally as hot, as her.

4. Who gives a flying F?

5. This is all probably worse because I feel like a pregnant whale.

6. My husband and I love each other.

It has to be in that order, over and over and over.  Like, thousands of times.  Eventually, you are going to own it. Own that you aren’t as hot as her!  I could give you a list of all the people I’m not as hot as also.  Meanwhile, not to toot my own horn (toot toot though), when I was single, I met men left right and sideways.  I am telling you, as long as you’re over the baseline for not Jabba the Hut, it’s all about personality, confidence (in yourself, not in being the hottest woman in the world, or even the hottest that your husband has been with), and, to be honest, sex appeal.  And there is not much less sexy than crying over not being hot enough.

Also, did you never hook up with anyone hotter than your husband?  For real?  Okay, even if you didn’t, let’s say you had.  Would it change even one small part of your current relationship with your husband?  I am assuming you’re saying no, because I can’t imagine how it would.  My husband was the hottest person I had a relationship with and you know what that does for our relationship now?  Nada. It is totally irrelevant.  I’m never like, Oh wow I’m so glad I married him because he was hot. I mean, it’s nice, but it’s also possibly the least important thing in our life together.  Sorry, husband.  No bonus points for hot.  And if you think this is because I’m a woman, I have plenty of male clients and they NEVER say, “I always think about my ex because she was hot.”  They DO say, “I always think about my ex because she liked sex/was easygoing/was nice to me.”  They say that stuff all the time, actually.  And never the former.

My experience as a couples counselor has shown me that it is rare for men to “trade up” in looks when they cheat.  In fact, that’s the most common thing I hear from confused and angry women whose husbands have cheated: “She isn’t even that pretty!”  Why?  Because men don’t really care.

This leads to the idea that because his ex was so hot, you may fear that your husband is still yearning for her.  Yeah right.  Did you ever hear the saying, “For every beautiful woman, there’s a man tired of ****ing her?”  Well, this is true.  I am a couples counselor and I can tell you that attractiveness doesn’t cure any ills in a relationship.  Further, my experience as a couples counselor has shown me that it is rare for men to “trade up” in looks when they cheat.  In fact, that’s the most common thing I hear from confused and angry women whose husbands have cheated: “She isn’t even that pretty!”  Why?  Because men don’t really care.  As long as you hit baseline attractive, they are more interested in deep things like if you’re chill with them watching football and if you like having sex.  Just kidding, also if you’re actually compatible with them.

I hope I have helped you, at least a bit.  Be happy that your husband cares enough to try to lie about this, and also that he is such a bad liar, because if he ever does anything really bad, you’ll know right away.  And stop looking at the hot ex on Facebook.  And say my mantras, every day, until you just don’t care about her anymore.

Till we meet again, I remain, the Blogapist Who Says Looks Aren’t Everything

Visit Dr. Rodman at Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, and Twitter @DrPsychMom.

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