As Justin Theroux’s array of tank tops proves every day, male vanity is alive and well in 2018. So what’s it like being married to a guy who can’t stop staring at himself in the mirror? Here, a 53-year-old woman describes how her husband’s looks have affected their marriage.
You know how men get more attractive as they age? They don’t get “old,” they become “distinguished.” So while my husband has always been handsome, as we’ve gotten older he’s just gotten more and more attractive. He’s six feet tall with dark hair and hazel eyes and he’s very well built, chiseled. When we met it was a pretty even match, but I gained some weight when I had my son and today I look like a middle-aged woman. I’m about five-six, with brown hair, brown eyes, big nose. Maybe it’s because I have a Ph.D., or a resting bitch face … but I am not extraordinarily personable so I have never had a lot of men hit on me.
He works out each day for about three hours and has about 7 percent body fat. He’ll say things like, “oh my god I have gained half a pound I need to go and do three more hours of exercise …” If I go on a diet, he goes on a diet. I don’t know if it’s a competitive thing or if he thinks he’s bonding with me, but I find it irritating. He says things like, “Oh I was looking at a picture of myself from two years ago and my abs were so defined! I really need to watch what I’m eating.” When that happens I immediately think that what he’s really saying is, “you need to get your arse in gear because you are not as attractive as me.”
In some ways I’m the masculine stereotype and he’s more feminine: He’s always counting calories and making sure he looks perfect. He spends a lot of time looking in the mirror, working out and taking pictures of his body. He’ll take a bite out of a cookie and throw it away because he can’t possibly eat the whole thing. And he’s proud of that behavior. He’ll say “I don’t understand why nobody else can have this discipline…” I just think, bite me.
We don’t go out together much, so I don’t usually see women hitting on him but I know he gets a lot of attention on Facebook, mostly private messages. Guys hit on him all the time. They ask him to send them naked pictures, as far as I know he hasn’t. He doesn’t really care where the attention is coming from, it still strokes his ego. When he traveled for work there were several times when my female friends, his colleagues, would have to run interference. They’d say, “Well this woman who was at the conference with us was coming on to him hard. I had to start talking loudly about his lovely wife…”
Do I worry about the impact his vanity will have on my kids? I think it’s been good for my son — he’s a real computer nerd so if he didn’t have a basic sense of working out he’d look like, you know, the guy who has been sitting in front of the computer all day. I’m more concerned about my teenage daughter because she’s very attractive and I don’t want her to focus on her looks too much. Right now I am in the parking lot while she’s inside doing CrossFit. Also, our whole family is on a paleo diet so I do have to watch that I monitor that and the exercise so I am not creating some sort of unhealthy environment.
The dynamic in our relationship has changed several times. After I had my son, my husband was traveling a lot and he strayed in a minor way, at least once. We worked through that, saw a counselor, and as we got into our 40s we grew a lot closer. And I guess it helps that I know where his vanity comes from. Looks were huge in his family, his mother is absolutely gorgeous and he was raised to believe that if he wasn’t perfect in every way nobody was going to love him. I think when we were younger he assumed he wasn’t good enough. In many ways I feel lucky that I didn’t grow up with that handicap. I know people aren’t after me for my looks, they want something else I have to offer.