The dilemma My partner and I are mismatched in terms of attractiveness and this plays on my mind almost daily. I am preoccupied with not being good enough for him. He has never said anything to this effect, and I’m not aware of him having been unfaithful, but still I worry he will eventually realise and leave me for someone better. I think he underestimates how desirable he is and appears not to notice how much attention he receives from the opposite sex. I feel painfully self-conscious when he introduces me to friends. A colleague once commented I had “done well”. We continue to have a good sex life, but I can tell he doesn’t share the immense physical attraction I still feel. We are compatible in many ways and I don’t doubt he loves me as a person, but I’m tired of the shame I feel when looking in the mirror and my constant doubts about why he would limit himself to me sexually. I should feel happy and grateful for what we have, but I can’t silence the bitchy voice in my head telling me he’s out of my league.
Mariella replies I wonder how many men have been tempted to write to me about their worries regarding their ineligibility for the stunning wife they’d managed to snare. I’ve been trying to do a count of how many letters I’ve had in the past 20 years from men who felt in any way inadequate or insecure about their worthiness for their partner. Perhaps you won’t be surprised to hear I’m struggling to come up with one! That’s not to say that humble, or indeed realistic, men don’t exist but for reasons we’ll have to try and unravel, men don’t seem to consider that visual shortcomings preclude them from seeking specimens of perfection to bed down with. For the male of the species, power, money, availability, prospects and even personality have for millennia made up for any defects in the looks department. If only the same could be said for my own sex.
I’m not going to zoom in on your obvious and debilitating insecurity. You’ve clearly had it highlighted for you and for some reason have chosen to disregard it as a contributing factor. We both know how irrational it is that one person telling you that you “got lucky” should seal the narrative of your courtship. Aren’t you lucky to find your partner more attractive by the day? I’m pretty sure that puts you in a rare and blessed minority in both sexes. Generally, drop-dead good looks over time are obscured by familiarity, tedium, bad habits, selfishness or lack of humour, so that eventually the eye of the beholder is blinded to what were once all-consuming charms. In your relationship the opposite has occurred for at least one of you and I’d be singing “hallelujah” from the top of my lungs if it were me.