I’m Dating a Man Who Dated a Model and I’m Feeling Really Insecure.

The man I am involved with is a fashion photographer, whose latest ex is a model. I am in general quite self-confident (I have a great career that I love and have been dreaming about, and in general am happy with everything else in my life), but I am starting to feel inadequate about our relationship, or rather, how he sees me and why he is with me. I don’t look even close to how models look and I don’t want to look like them, to be honest. I have always been comfortable in my skin until I met him.

Now all I can think about is how he sees me and all my imperfections, which are many – I’ve gone through many surgeries and other related medical treatments. This has given me strength and taught me to love myself, but it certainly left its marks on my body. His involvement with models bothers me and most of his friends are from the industry. I believe that since it’s just the beginning, it’s probably easier to end the relationship not to hurt anyone in the future. But something stops me as other than this, he’s everything I’ve always wanted in a man. I am scared to bring it up with him as I don’t want him to think I am not the self-confident and strong woman he thinks I am, and I obviously don’t want him to quit his job or to unfriend anyone, as it’s his life and his choices. What would you advise in this situation?

Lainie

Once upon a time, there was a very confident dating coach. He had gone out with hundreds of women, hooked up a decent amount, and never had any doubts about getting a second date (Of course, he was wrong about 20% of the time, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Then, one day, the dating coach met a SEX coach. He was flummoxed. Not that he was previously insecure with his performance in bed, but, really, a SEX coach? Belying his experience, he interviewed the sex coach like an insecure, needy intern, and although they did hook up (he’s proud to say), he was EXTREMELY self-conscious about the entire thing (and somewhat surprised that she was so selfish in bed.) They did not continue beyond two dates – largely because of his insecurity. He simply wasn’t confident enough to be himself around her.

99% of us are NOT models.

That’s personal anecdote #1. Here’s a similar story from the other side – your letter reminds me of an ex-girlfriend of mine who used a similar line of thinking to justify breaking up with me:

“You like looking at models. I don’t look like a model. You must not be attracted to me. I’m going to make a big deal about the fact that there are more attractive women on Earth and ruin what was previously a great relationship over my own insecurity.”

So let’s get this straight, Lainie:

I have no idea who your fashion photographer guy is – whether he’s the guy you’re “involved” with, which might just mean he’s fucking you, or whether he’s a “boyfriend,” which means he has committed to exploring a long-term relationship with you. But I do know this:

99% of us are NOT models.

I have never walked into a party and felt like the best looking guy in the room. I’m okay, but my self-esteem derives from my intelligence, my wit, my moral compass, my heart, my sensitivity and so on. I realized that I didn’t have to win a beauty contest with all other men. I just had to really, really like myself – to the point that I never worried whether women would like me.

It was that CONFIDENCE – not intelligence, money, or looks – that served me well for 10 years and 300 dates. And it’s that same confidence that will either allow you to recognize that you’re a prize for this photographer…or sabotage it with your own insecurity.

Put it this way: if he’s with you, he’s attracted to you. Case closed.

Put it this way: if he’s with you, he’s attracted to you. Case closed.

What’s going to KEEP him attracted to you is your confident, positive, queen-like attitude – where you can be yourself at all times and realize that if this guy doesn’t appreciate you as you are, it’s HIS loss, not yours.

Don’t break up with him, Lainie.

Break up with this negative self-talk and you’ll be just fine.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    ScottH

    “Break up with this negative self-talk and you’ll be just fine.”

    Excellent!!

    If he’s with you, it’s because he wants to be.  Just make sure you’re getting your needs met too.

    1. 1.1
      ScottH

      Additionally, why would you even think of making his mind up for him?  Maybe he likes whatever it is about you that you’re questioning.  Let the relationship develop and see where it goes.  You just might be the lid for his pot, and vice versa.

    2. 1.2
      j. Harry

      Yes, I agree with you scottH, if he wanted to date a model, he would be with a model. He doesn’t. He wants YOU!

    3. 1.3
      Christine

      That’s very true.  He was dating a model before, but for whatever reason, is no longer with her now.  I don’t think being with a model is that important to him, if he gave up his chance to be with one before.

      The comparison game is an exercise in futility.  You can’t be someone else, only yourself.  Even if you could turn into someone else, why would you want to turn into the person your partner broke up with?

       

      1. 1.3.1
        ScottH

        Sometimes it’s really hard even to be just yourself….

        1. Karmic Equation

          Only if one doesn’t like him/herself.

          I can’t imagine being anyone else than me.

          I’m not perfect, but I’m happy being me, and like to show “me” off to other people 🙂

          Don’t define (generic) your worth by who is or isn’t willing to date you.

          Learn to love yourself and the ones who matter will follow suit.

  2. 2
    Christine

    I think she should stay with him, and see how this goes.  I would hate for her to throw over a potentially great relationship, over some unfounded fear.

    Rest assured there’s more to a relationship than just looks.  I know someone who is a model–easily the best looking girl I know, in my circle of friends.  But, her on again/off again relationship is one of the most tumultuous I’ve ever seen.  I would never want to trade places with her and have a relationship like that, even for her model looks.

    On the other hand, one of the plainest looking (but also nicest and smartest) girls I know actually has a much more stable relationship.  In fact, before I got into a relationship of my own, she gave me hope–she showed me that it doesn’t take model looks to attract and keep a great guy.   Looks don’t make or break a relationship.

     

  3. 3
    Michelle

    Great advice!  Inner “mojo” and confidence SO much sexier than a perfect size 4, long legs, and long shiny blonde hair.  It’s why you see the hot girls with the “so so” guys (who aren’t rich) , and visa versa.  I knew a girl in my circle, easily size 12, not the best skin, not the best looking, but great smile, great hair and a walk that could stop a truck.  She truly LOVED men, all shapes and sizes, and she was to this day the most powerful femme fatale I have ever met.  She had that special “thing” that made her  a show-stopper and man magnet.  She taught me a lot about what true beauty and sex appeal is.

  4. 4
    John

    Hopefully she can overcome her insecurities and not sabotage her grand opportunity. I used to date hot models in my late teens/early twenties. When I went on dates with them and went to the restroom at a night club, 3 or 4 guys would be trying to pick her up. I would say, “good try guys” and take her by the hand and walk. I had one guy sending a limo everyday for a week to one of my model girlfriends back then. She thought he was strange because he didn’t even know her. At times I felt insecure because I was young at the time, but I didn’t let it drive me crazy.

  5. 5
    sophia

    And, please do NOT think ” so no one will get hurt in the future ” because someone WILL get hurt and that’s part of the dating process (unless you end up married, and even then….) 🙂

    Suck it up, buttercup.

  6. 6
    Noquay

    Kinda reminds me of my current situation. Met a guy totally by chance last year. We share and don’t share many values, many interests. He is a widower whose wife was born into money; they lived in Fla and in this state, travelled to 50 countries, drove expensive cars, live in a home chock full of original art. Though I am far younger than she, more active, I simply cannot compete with their lifestyle. I am well paid yet struggle as I cared for a parent for many years which left me with huge debts. My home is a constant ongoing construction project, my farm somewhat catastrophic as there is no reliable help here. Can’t afford to travel. Was always thinking he was embarrassed by how I lived, that I am being judged by how and where I live. Was always busting my backside to have everything perfect, to his standards. Guess what? Thus far he keeps sticking around, ergo, the why doesn’t matter.

    1. 6.1
      Sally

      He is seeking your youth, not your lifestyle (he has that).  The fact that you are much younger and more active, than his other options, weighs heavily in your favor.

    2. 6.2
      Sally

      Noquay – I suspect the fact that you are “far younger and more active” is all that the guy cares about.  Especially as he has his own means, all he wants is a younger woman on his arm.

      1. 6.2.1
        Noquay

        Sally

        Perhaps, though at 56, I’m no spring chicken. I am, however, a fairly accomplished distance runner as is he and I live in a region with some serious trails. Planning some bike tours and a 100 mile running race. Again, so long as he keeps coming round, I’m not going to worry whether I measure up or not.

  7. 7
    Karmic Equation

    I was in a 6-year relationship with a man who dated a porn-star, albeit before she became a porn-star.

    I could have let that knowledge make me feel insecure or make me become more adventurous in bed (it didn’t, I’m still plain vanilla in bed) to “compete” against his memory of her.

    It never occurred to me to compare me to her. There’s only one of me. There was only one of her. What would be the point of the comparison?

    If she was that awesome, why weren’t they still together?

    As noquay wrote, the why doesn’t matter.

  8. 8
    sophia

    And, let’s not forget, perhaps Mr. Fashion Photographer does not like all the attention his former gf’s received and/or didn’t feel so comfortable himself.  To bring it full circle, maybe he once felt exactly how Lainie feels in her letter above!

  9. 9
    Michelle

    My bf is, by Western beauty standards, better looking than me. He has a six pack and the sultry stare of a Bollywood hero! And yes, it is intimidating a little bit when his body is pretty much perfect. However, he tells me all the time that he thinks I’m beautiful (he likes big boned Nordic looking women, so lucky me – remember each guy has a type and you just might fit the bill) and how he fell in love with my brains, wit and spunky attitude, which to him are the most attractive traits he finds in a woman. And my confidence is a part of that too! He says he gets a boner when we verbally spar about geopolitics or philosophy. I don’t have a thin or even particularly athletic body though I work out almost every day and eat healthy (just not 2+ hours a day like him and not as strict as his diet, because I like to live a little LOL, I also have PCOS which makes it hard to lose weight). He appreciates that I am healthy and active and though I have curves I’m not a couch potato. The point is, if I obsessed about having cellulite or a few extra pounds around my middle it that lack of confidence would be a huge turn off for him. So don’t jinx your relationship – if you’re feeling insecure, work on that yourself, therapy could really help.

    1. 9.1
      Michelle

      Well said. Funny you have said everything I needed to hear.  Thank you

  10. 10
    Agatha

    Lainie, I can totally relate, I also had to go through multiple surgeries that left scars all over my body and walking difficulties. My boyfriend used to date very attractive women and it made me self conscious, eventhough I am usually very confident and happy with myself.
    I decided to tell him about my insecurity, and guess what, he was flattered by the fact that I chose to show him my vulnerability. And it turns out that he adores my scars, as they reminded him of the struggles that led to my inner strength and positivity, and how lucky he is to be with someone who is beautiful from the inside.
    I believe your strength (proven by scars) is one of the reasons he’s with you instead of all the models he could have dated. Cheer up!

  11. 11
    Adam

    Evan is right. She needs to dump her insecurities.

    A friend of mine works in the entertainment industry and has worked with Victoria’s Secret models and other incredibly beautiful women. At the end of the day, he goes home to his woman who he absolutely loves and adores. While quite attractive and a wonderful person, his wife is certainly not a top 10 model. But for him it doesn’t matter. They are just too crazy about each other for anyone or anything else to matter.

    I spoke to him one day about his job and the different men and women he has worked with. I asked him about his time shooting Victoria’s Secret models and other gorgeous, famous women. Believe it or not, he didn’t think they were nearly as attractive in person. He was not impressed. Literally, his love for his woman was so deep he had no real interest in these other women.

    1. 11.1
      flonie

      Where can we find men like that?  This is stuff fairy tales are made of.

  12. 12
    cp

    Great advice Evan!!!/
    But reading through the article all that silly me could think about was whoa!! was evan counting all the dates he was going on,like was he keeping a tab or something for ten years….lol

    Again love your advice really helps me navigate this dating life.

    1. 12.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      No, I went through an email folder on my computer before I got married to see how many women I’d actually met from online dating. I’m somewhere between proud and embarrassed by the number.

      1. 12.1.1
        lynn

        Evan you say women should not believe what men say when they are dating them only what they do and that’s fine. But what should our response if any be when they’re saying all these things you’re so smart and beautiful and I can’t wait to see you again I’ve never had a kiss like this before I can’t believe I found you etc. I mean am I supposed to just smile and know that it means nothing or am I supposed to do whatever they want you to be excited by their words that’s why they’re saying them but I’m supposed to just know that those words are true until their actions show it but it’s awkward well somebody saying all these things to you whether pursuing you and you know you’re not supposed to believe it so it makes you not believe them.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Lynn,

          Evan has an old saying that goes, “nothing is real until he is your boyfriend.”

          In other words, respond kindly and with enthusiasm (when needed) but don’t allow yourself to get too emotionally invested into the guy until he offers to become your boyfriend.

          Hopefully this offer will be after he tells you that he wants to take down his online dating account to focus on you exclusively.

          So still smile and enjoy your dates if you are having a good time, just don’t consider anything he says or does as a sign of how he truly feels about you until he offers to commit.

  13. 13
    lynn

    Thanks Adrian, I knew about the nothing is real until rule. My issue is what makes men lie so much,  for no good reason. Recently methat a guy online 52 says he knows what he wants,  what will it take to become my boyfriend. After two dates of how beautiful, wonderful, smart etc he asked again what can he do.  I said well we could both take down our  profiles of he’s serious about setting where this can go. He days done! On or second date he says he’s never hadid a kiss like that before. I had to go out of town he ask to text and talk on the phone,  he says he’s never talked for 2 hours on the phone in his life,  he just adores me etc. And he’s not looking just for sex,  he can find that anywhere.  Then when I return he totally flaked out. My issue is these excessive lies make it so I don’t trust anything men say. It takes away from dating because they want you to be impressed but then I’d be acting until I find out if their actions match up. So how can i smile and enjoy myself when i know I’m being lied to and The thing is all these excessive lies aren’t necessary.

    1. 13.1
      Lindsey

      Lynn–

      I online dated for about three years before I met my current BF.  I probably went out on 100s of dates with 10s of different men.  Some lasted one date, some lasted three months.  All along this spectrum, many of the men lied and pulled weird fake outs and ghosting, after spewing some pretty shameless sweet talk.  This is weird, twisted stuff that is coming from weird, twisted men.  They just don’t know it yet.

      I need to correct you on a major point:  Never, ever go through life assuming that, because someone in your past lied to you or treated you poorly, the next person will do the same.  You don’t KNOW that you are being lied to until you know.  Give every man the benefit of the doubt and hope that he is better than the last one.  

      It took a few wake-up calls for me to realize that online dating isn’t a very magical experience.  It’s not organic to a certain extent.  Sometimes, you just have to take it day by day with the person that you don’t really know all that well.

      Be gracious when someone compliments you but the compliments don’t really matter as much as whether or not you have real, actual chemistry between one another.  Compliments, early on, are game.  It’s not a bad or good thing.  Just game.  Do not overthink compliments.

      Do not be gullible either — a man who is seriously and actively online dating with a purpose is not going to start showering every girl he meets with the “I love you” and “I don’t care about the sex” lines.  In response, you should ask “Why? We barely know each other?”

      Call me a cynic but after two dates and a couple phone calls, nobody knows who I am. And they sure as heck haven’t fallen in love with me.

  14. 14
    Nutbrownhare

    For Lainie… if he’s everything you want in a man, don’t throw it away unless you’ve got good reason to. Worrying about all the beautiful girls he’s NOT in a relationship with doesn’t count as a good reason!

    I’m guessing that this guy has a bit of depth to him, and isn’t interested purely in someone’s carefully coiffed exterior. You were comfortable in your own skin – and this is a very attractive quality in anyone, regardless of what they look like. Heck… I’ve been very attracted to a few guys who were positively ugly if you just looked at the surface, but nevertheless had such an aura of warmth about them (which ultimately derived from being comfortable with themselves) that they WERE attractive.

    Until you have concrete evidence to the contrary, you can safely assume that this guy’s surrounded by models he has no interest in beyond their role as camera subjects. He has rejected them in favour of you – someone who is self-confident, has a good career, is sorted in life despite having been through many difficulties and is more interested in a partner than arm-candy.

    That’s something to celebrate, not terminate!

     

  15. 15
    flonie

    Glad this was asked cause I always feel like this.

    It stemmed from a guy I first dated who told me his ex gf was a model, only later and many insecure conversations later it was revealed she never existed.  He made her up.  Unfortunately, the damage had been done.

    Currently with my LDR guy for 18 months, it’s a long story.  We’ve been together for long periods three times now.  Anyways, I feel exactly like the writer.  I don’t think I’m that bad, but when he described his ex’s and his comparison of me, it makes me feel like I’m second best.

    His first gf was a 9, no a 10.  His last ex was easily the most stunning woman he had been that close to.  Then there’s me…I’m “cute”…that’s when he’d give me a compliment…sometimes if I made a stink, he’d say I was “pretty”…

    Recently, I was asking him about a coworker that I joked he had a crush on.  He said she wasn’t attractive…a 5…So I asked him to rate me…he said a 7 or 8…and when I inquired about two other coworkers he’s admitted are attractive he gave them a 8 or 9.

    Evan may not think I’m realistic, but I want to be with a man that thinks I’m beautiful.  I mean, if I think he’s the most handsome man for me, I better well be the same for him.  It may be stuff of fairytales, I admit.  What’s ironic is that he’s not attractive.  If I wasn’t dating him, I wouldn’t think much of him, which is pretty much what I think he feels about me.

    Funny that as we grow to care for someone, we begin to feel attracted even though we would not have otherwise.

    Sometimes if I’m in my negative self talk, I even reason with myself that the reason why he’s taking his sweet time with me (telling me he loved me, making future plans) it’s because I’m not a 9 or 10.  If I was, then he’d move heaven and earth for me…like he was willing to for his ex.  So since I’m not a knock out, he doesn’t really care if I stay or go.

    I should take Evan’s advice and take charge of my destiny and move on…but I haven’t found the muster yet…

     

    1. 15.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “Evan may not think I’m realistic, but I want to be with a man that thinks I’m beautiful. I mean, if I think he’s the most handsome man for me, I better well be the same for him.”

      a. It IS realistic to be with a man who thinks you’re beautiful. In fact, it’s imperative. I don’t know how you concluded otherwise.
      b. It is NOT realistic to think you’re the MOST beautiful woman he’s ever seen or been with. Maybe that’s how you concluded otherwise.

      Both a and b are true and they’re not mutually exclusive. Your future husband WILL find you attractive and WILL be monogamous to you and WILL try to please you in bed, and he will STILL (mostly) silently lust after other objectively more attractive women, because he’s a human being with eyes and a libido. This has been covered in great detail here:

      1. 15.1.1
        flonie

        What I meant was being with a man who thinks I’m the MOST beautiful woman he’s been with.

        I’ve read your detailed thoughts on the whole beauty thing.  I think it’s great your wife is secure and confident she doesn’t have any qualms like some of us.

         

        Thanks for posting this question and as always, reminding us to not SETTLE.

         

        1. L

          Flonie-  of course it’s possible for a man to think you’re the most beautiful woman he’s dated- why not? I’ve been with a man who told me I was the most attractive woman he dated. I later saw photos of all his exes on Facebook and silently agreed.

          But IMO.. It’s also fine that he has a ‘more attractive’ ex.. As long as he doesn’t rub it in your face! (yes, this has happened to me with another ex of mine.. Yuck.. Asshole).

          He should make you feel extremely beautiful and like you don’t have to compete with his exes. This includes not gushing over some hot woman he dated when he was 20 (wtf? Why do some men do this to their girlfriends? So damn rude)

  16. 16
    jane

    “and he will STILL (mostly) silently lust after other objectively more attractive women, because he’s a human being with eyes and a libido”

    If roles were reversed would men accept this answer?

     

    1. 16.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Yes. And they are. I, for one, am not blind/vain/delusional enough to think I’m the hottest guy my wife has seen/dated. However, I’m secure and married, so I don’t give a shit.

  17. 17
    L

    What’s with the part about her getting surgeries in order to be attractive to him? that’s a huge red flag to me. This woman claims to have been secure mad happy with herself before she met this man. I really don’t think this is a good relationship..

  18. 18
    Sayra

    Well.. I don’t know what the op looks like, but if we are talking bodies.. Some men prefer thicker/shorter women that have bigger breasts, wider hips, or bigger bums. Most fashion models are really lean and don’t have those types of curves. It’s possible op is curvy and sexier to her boyfriend than she realizes.

  19. 19
    Jaclyn Kiah

    I would think of it like this:

    Reverse the situation. Just say you were the photographer, or worked in an industry where you met lots of male models, had male model friends etc. You date one of these male models. Maybe he looks like… a young Ashton Kutcher. Whatever. You get the point. You break up– you meet a guy who, and I will phrase this as you did “Doesn’t look anything like models look—and doesn’t want to.” You’re dating him. Or hanging out. Or whatever the involvement is you have with this guy. Why are you with him? Probably because you’re attracted to him, you enjoy his personality, you click, you’re compatible, you like yourself when you’re with him, he makes you happy. Are you still thinking about your ex who modeled? Are you obsessing, looking at pics of your ex or missing the ex you broke up (there is always a reason for a break up) just because he was a model? Or are you in the moment now with this new BF who maybe doesn’t look like a model but you’re with because you wanna be with him!

     

    They broke up for a reason. And he’s with you for lots of reasons. Looks are just looks. You could be with the most gorgeous person in the world but that doesn’t make your relationship the best relationship in the world. If relationships worked based on both people looking gorgeous the way couples looked in this world would look a lot like the huge diversity in the one percent and poverty. But no, you see all kinds of people together. Even celebrities— hot hot hot actors both male and female date other people who may not be model looking or actor looking. They date who makes them *happy*

     

    If you’re happy with yourself…. that is all that matters. And if he’s with you, and you know that and feel it in your heart— his “model” ex girlfriend is nothing but that. A model. An EX. And someone who simply doesn’t matter anymore. Whether she is beautiful or not. Love is love. And love isn’t about looks.

     

    Hugh Grant cheated on Elizabeth Hurley. You hear about “gorgeous models” or celebrities getting cheated on all the time for possibly “ugly” people. It’s all so much more than looks. Remember that!

  20. 20
    JustAGuy

    “Don’t break up with him, Lainie.

    Break up with this negative self-talk and you’ll be just fine”

    Exactly!  I had a girlfriend that felt the same way (we broke up for other reasons, her’s mostly).  Not that I dated models but younger, beautiful women.  I don’t know if she ever fully believed me, but when she brought it up I let her know it was her, I was into.  I found her beautiful and her body as well.  She was, it’s just the media gives women this image of what beauty is that is so far removed from what I and most all the men I have ever known like.  I don’t want model heroin-chic skinny, I don’t care about large breasts, and a washboard stomach is not required.  As a song says it well,

    “You don’t have to be beautiful
    To turn me on
    I just need your body baby
    From dusk till dawn
    You don’t need experience
    To turn me out…

    Women not girls rule my world
    I said they rule my world
    Act your age, mama (Not your shoe size)
    Not your shoe size
    Maybe we could do the twirl…”

    Instead of being insecure, I’d feel secure.  You are better than any model.  He has dated models but he wants to date you.  That means you got something those girls lack.

    1. 20.1
      Caroline R

      JustAGuy

      You’re a treasure.

      Thanks for saying what you did. I suspect that other women reading this would like to give you a kiss on the cheek for being such a good man. I know I do.

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