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Old 03-30-2013, 02:10 AM   #1
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Default What can I do to help boost my SO's self esteem?

I know that in the end, a person's self-image comes from within, and I can only really try to be one voice in the world telling him I think he's handsome and sexy. But what frustrates and saddens me is that he completely and totally believes me when I say those things - but also believes that for mos practical purposes, I'm almost the only woman in the world who doesn't find his looks terribly unattractive. He's never self conscious naked in bed, but often hates looking at himself dressed in a mirror. It's gotten especially bad lately because he's put on weight recently and most of the shirts he loves best don't fit properly anymore.

I'm afraid I've made things more difficult for him, because after he recently encouraged me to be completely honest with him about what turns me on, he's now seen some of my preferred porn, and he's sort of more playful about knowing that I love how fat he looks. He insists that he loves that I love his size, but I worry that the more he believes I'm turned on by his belly, the less he believes he could ever be viewed as anything but repulsive by "normal" women. That was part of why it took so long for me to be fully open with him about my fantasies and desires - I didn't want to complicate his self esteem this way.

What makes things worse is that we have a relationship where sexual encounters with other people are open to negotiation if we're both comfortable with the individual third person in question, and I've had multiple people interested in that, while he's had only one, over a year ago.

Any words of wisdom, men of the BHM section and the folks who love them?
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:15 PM   #2
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Just off the top of my head:
I have a feeling you do this already, but it might help to compliment him in non-sexual ways too. Fat men/people aren't just sexy. I'm sure he often looks really handsome / slick / dapper / cute. Drawing his attention to all the different ways in which he, like any other human being, is attractive might help his own thoughts move in that direction a bit more too. Small things can mean a lot. Smile at him when you're out and about, hold his hand and show him and the rest of the world how proud you are to be by his side.

Most importantly though - and this really is just my opinion - it may help for him to know that FFAs aren't really this rare, freaky breed of chick that is only found in the furthest corners of the world and hardly ever comes out of hiding. I think most FFAs don't even know they're "FFAs". Many of these also have perhaps just a slight preference for larger men, others may not have much of a preference at all, but find a vast range of different sizes etc attractive.

I don't know, maybe you could find comments / posts that many women make about BHM celebrities and show them to him. James Corden is my favourite example of this. These guys get some proper adoration and it's obvious that the only people who find them 'repugnant' are haters by nature whose opinions reallllly aren't worth considering anyway. I honestly don't think it's true that most women would find him unattractive. I honestly don't.

It really is true that when you're uncomfortable about something, it draws people's attention to that very thing and can make them feel uncomfortable right along with you. It's a catch 22, unfortunately, but there is a way out of it. It'll take some time though. And you're very right, you alone cannot change how your SO thinks/feels about himself.

Just be patient with him and keep doing little things to help it along. I'm sure he does and will truly appreciate you building him up like that. Very best of luck!
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Old 03-31-2013, 01:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ODFFA View Post
Just off the top of my head:
I have a feeling you do this already, but it might help to compliment him in non-sexual ways too. Fat men/people aren't just sexy. I'm sure he often looks really handsome / slick / dapper / cute. Drawing his attention to all the different ways in which he, like any other human being, is attractive might help his own thoughts move in that direction a bit more too. Small things can mean a lot. Smile at him when you're out and about, hold his hand and show him and the rest of the world how proud you are to be by his side.
This .... that's almost all you can really do!

From what you write, he seems pretty sure that you love him physically - so as ODFFA advises, you might need to emphasize more that you truly love the whole package he has to offer, and that publically.

Create chances that let him show off what he's good at, how funny, strong, whatever he is - so he get's positive feedback not only from you, but also from others.

Point out how 'normal' it is to be a big guy these days - and how great many of them all around look. Comment on other couples you see with big guy, how happy they look, etc., the more casual you can weave this in, the better.

Invest a little in a few new favorite shirts. Measure the ones he has - and buy some that are a bit bigger for 'the new season', a color he'll that brings out his eyes, a collar type which suits him well, so he'll feel more comfortable again. Sell it to him with the season, color, style argument, not the size one.

Bottom line - there's only a limited amount of what you can do.
Knowing he has full support 'at home' is good, but it doesn't do the job. Building or re-building self-esteem needs time, work on one's personal development, the conscious choice to think positive - and positive reinforcement from the outside world, success in things that are important to one personally, etc.
Give him the time!
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:56 AM   #4
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First of all, I think ODFFA nailed thing. (which won’t stop me from blabbing about my own suggestions, but the tl;dr version is: “what she said”)

Second, apologies for the incoming wall of text. Brevity is not one of my strengths

There are no guarantees that you can change how he feels about his size. There is an old saw (from when long term relationships meant being married), to the effect of “The mistake men make when they get married is thinking that their wife won’t change, the mistake that women make when they get married is thinking that their husband will.” In all honesty I think that in the case of my wife and I, we had that reversed more than not, so I’m not so sure about the gender stereotyping in there! I mention it just to say that we can make errors both in thinking that we can change people, and in thinking that they won’t change in their own way, whether we like it or not.

But there is no point in not even trying, right? I’m not sure you can change how he’s going to feel about his weight all that much, but hey we all have our weaknesses, a big part of things is how much we let them bug us, versus how much we accept them while focussing on our strengths. And speaking of strength….I looked back through your older posts to refresh my memory, and one thing that jumped out to me is that mentioned that he is quite strong. Do you think you could find more opportunities for him to really use his strength? (for such a highly prized trait, for most people it is not the most useful in daily modern life, so this could take some creativity). Ideal might be in somewhat public ways, so that he gets positive feedback from people other than you, but even if he is the only one experiencing it, so long as it feels good to him that might help balance out how he’s feeling overall?

And what other strengths does he have—he’s bound to have some. Perhaps working on giving him more opportunities to use those, too, could help? (although the physical strength feels, to me, to be the most key, as it is such a counter to the negatives of being fat). The point in all of this is not to tell him how great he is with regard to these traits, it is to let him use them and have success with them. For most guys doing something is worth a hundred pictures, and of course it gives him the opportunity to draw positive feedback from other people too.

Finally, money is likely an issue with him replacing his now too-small shirts, but I’d imagine part of it is also feeling bad about having to go and buy a larger size, and how fat will he look in those new shirts, etc. So if you possibly can, I’d suggest taking him shopping, making him come out and show you the new clothes, effusive praise for the ones that work on him (and frank feedback on why the others don’t work so well), and if you can afford to buy him one piece that you like that maybe would be a tiny bit outside his normal comfort zone, then beg him to wear it, that could really help emphasize how much you like looking at him, and how you want to show him off.

The above is my main advice. Below I have a few more ‘long-shot’ ideas. Things that maybe help you make things you are already doing just a tiny bit more effective, and maybe you already have them totally covered but just in case you don’t, I’ll mention them (and in both cases, reference books that I think cover the territory well).

Some people have a strong preference for one sense over another in their use of language. The person who says “Do you get what I’m saying?” may feel that if you say “I hear you loud and clear” that you are somehow evading, and don’t really ‘get’ it (touch vs verbal), for example. Also some people are really good at hiding negatives in sentence structures where they are sort of hidden or protected, making it difficult to respond to the real point that they are making (this could be for subtle attacks, but it can also be used to deflect praise, or even attack oneself without letting others easily defend the speaker). If you think either of those could be limiting the impact of your words to your boyfriend, I’d suggest the book “The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense” by Suzette Haden Elgin. It is a very clear user guide to using language effectively, but not manipulatively/abusively.

Sometimes different temperaments/personalities just see the world differently, with different focuses. For example, in response to a story about bullying at schools, one person’s first reaction might be that we need stiffer anti-bullying rules, another’s might be that we need to better educate kids about how bullying is wrong, a third might want parent volunteers in the school yard who can recognize when it is happening and step in right away, while a fourth might say that if after all this time it is still going on, clearly we don’t understand bullying as well as we thought and the real focus needs to be to better understand the dynamics that lead to it, or we’ll never be rid of it. They may all be valid points, but if you are in a relationship with someone who consistently has different approaches than you do, the harder you try to make something happen the more intensely you might be following your approach, and the more you might be missing what could work with them. If that sounds like it could be the case at all, I’d recommend checking out the Keirsey temperament sorter at keirsey.com, and the book “Please Understand Me II” from the same group as the web site. There are other temperament/personality sorting systems and books out there too, and any of them are just tools to give you one view on how people work/interact. I just happen to find the Keirsey one seems to hit a reasonable balance of accessibility, clarity, and utility.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:54 PM   #5
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I'm gonna say keep doing what your doing and be supportive and express what you are into. He will either adapt and see things for himself or he will stay blind not a lot you can do about it.

It took me a long time really see what my SO saw. I think began to see it just in time. Actually I dare say she couldn't take it much longer. Just stay positive and hopeful and enjoy what you have while you have it. Best of luck
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