You Want Attention From Your Husband: He Wants The Waitress

You Want Attention From Your Husband: He Wants The Waitress

By Hadley Earabino, The Love Life Coach—Certified Martha Beck Life Coach, Relationship Coach and Sexologist. Hire me to coach you here!

Meet Carol, whose husband Patrick flirts with waitresses, cashiers and receptionists, but never flirts with his wife. She's feeling bad about herself lately, and has started to lose interest in sex with her husband: From Sex Confession: Husband's Flirting Makes Wife Feel Inadequate.

"I've let plenty of light flirting go—ignored it and pretended it didn't bother me. But then I felt it was getting worse. It's turning me off to him, making me feel like I'm not cute, or sexy, or perky enough for him. I just want some compliments from him. But he tells me he is just being nice to these women. I'm not sure how to get through to him and make him stop. But it's really starting to affect things and I don't want it to get out of control."

Hadley's Advice: 
First of all, it's perfectly natural for you to feel jealous of your husband's flirtations with other women. You're biologically wired to protect your most valuable resources and your mate is definitely one of them. He's your husband. He is part of your biological survival strategy. You simply need to know he's going to be there for you.

When he looks toward other women, being flirtatious, playful and charming, it threatens your pair bond—it threatens your safety and security. He's basically showing signs that he might cheat on you, which would equal abandonment. This leads to feelings of worry, hurt and fear. (If you were a less evolved primate, you'd probably be throwing his crap out of the nest right now. I'm just saying).

That said, from your description, I think you're simply dealing with a "big" ego. This is the kind of guy who thrives on special treatment, lives for the occaisonal compliment and is desperate for any kind of positive regard. Without praise, he feels like a nobody, a failure, a nothing. He has to look outside of himself for praise, warmth, and feelings of pride or success.

But he's smart. He's learned that if he dishes out the praise and compliments, he'll get it right back. (He's also probably in Sales, tell me where I'm wrong.) In other words, his need to flirt with other women is probably just a tool he uses to shore up his self-esteem. 

Most likely, we're dealing with someone who relies on what I call the "social self" rather than the "essential self." He relies on "other-esteem" instead of "self-esteem." He doesn't feel good about himself unless someone's telling him he's doing a great job, he has gorgeous eyes, or he's especially talented.

At this point, the light-hearted flirtation with service professionals does the job of boosting his ego. He likes other women to tell him he's doing a good job. The compliments and light-hearted praise are working for him, but he might want more. 

Right now, he just needs a lot of ego-boosting, but some guys actually need to 'do the deed' and engage in sexual liasons to feel good enough, so that's a risk you might prepare yourself for. In that case, sexual addiction might play a role. But from what you've described, with the general way he tosses the net, this guy just needs lots of friendly praise. 

Here's the bad news: Until he learns to give it to himself, your attempts to build him up with praise, kudos and affirmation will never be enough.


And here's my medicine for you: If you're with a guy like this, you're probably just like him. Water rises to its' own level. Tell me where I'm wrong: You don't feel good about yourself unless someone is telling you you're doing a great job, you have gorgeous eyes, you're gifted and talented and sexy. 

The truth: The truth is, you want compliments from your husband, just like he wants positive regard from his waitresses. You can even get him to give you the compliments you crave—when you're assertive enough to ask for them. But truthfully, it doesn't scratch the itch. Just like your husband, you are reyling on other-esteem rather than self-esteem. You'e relying on your husband to make you feel "cute, sexy and perky."

No matter how many times you hear that you are cute, sexy and perky, you won't believe it. No matter how many times he hears he's charming, handsome and talented, he won't believe it. With a little self-love, a crash course in self-care and some non-judgy coaching from me, you could both be on a fast-track to success in your relationship and your life.

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