SHARE There are many reasons why people enter into committed, long-term relationships or marriage that have little to do with physical attraction. Some people marry to please others such as their parents: One client became engaged to a man she had little attraction for primarily because of enormous pressure from her mother to settle down. As an older, Italian woman the mother placed a high value on marriage and family.
Other people marry for reasons of age and reproduction such as those fighting their biological time clocks. And others do so to escape loneliness or to create an instant family. People who are lonely or come from broken homes might be more compelled to unwittingly commit under these circumstances.
Others strive to make up for a loss. Such might be the case of a partner who recently lost a spouse. And finally, some people attempt to escape societal pressure or to fit in: These individuals contend that other factors such as an emotional connection, friendship , the ability to communicate, the willingness to start a family, and safety and security are just as vital if not more, to sustaining a healthy, long-term relationship.
But I beg to differ. While these factors are important to a viable relationship, so is a passionate, physical attraction. Honesty, productivity and loyalty were important, and above all else, religion and family.
When I see a man that I find attractive, I get excited. Others consciously submit to living with a big hole in their lives. But for many, sooner or later the void craves filling and trouble ensues. In marital therapy , I always request that each partner attends at least one individual session. During this time, I inquire about the state of attraction and its history. I ask if there is current physical attraction and if it ever existed.
In some cases, a couple may be having regular sex—albeit obligatory and relatively unsatisfactory. Most often however, the least interested person has lost the need to even try to stir up a little passion. To put it bluntly, if you ignore physical attraction when choosing a life-partner, your relationship may be temporary.
Here are some of the consequences you may eventually face: People who are stuck in a relationship lacking physical attraction will most likely have little to no sex. Some of these marriages were unconsummated. Many partners sleep in separate beds—even relatively young couples. Oftentimes the couple has never experienced a good sex life and you can discover this by asking about early dating or honeymoon activity.
They too, often enable the sabotaging of their sex lives. Some do so by turning it down when it is initiated, or complaining that it is never good enough.
This in turn, can cause the partner who finally initiated to retreat or completely shut down. The lack of attraction in a primary relationship oftentimes leaves an opening for a third party to enter. The initiator of an affair might be the mate who claims to have attraction but feels deprived by the other.
Work or the gym seem to be the most popular place for affairs to develop. Running into someone that finally electrifies you is hard to resist. And once an affair becomes physical, it will that much harder to stop. If emotional feelings are involved—look out. This is in part, why I liken an affair to a Zombie: As in any respectable Zombie movie when you think a Zombie is destroyed, it surprises you and comes back again.
When a partner feels trapped in an unhappy relationship they tend to consistently find things wrong with their partner.
The way they smell , the way they eat, the words they use. The things they may have once found endearing are now annoying as hell. Some of these critics hope that the partner will get the message and end the relationship—something the nitpicker may be scared to do; others are simply projecting their own frustrations onto their partner.
Nitpicking in this context may be considered a sadistic act but because it is usually unconscious it is difficult to stop. In my clinical experience, once the underlying reason for the nitpicking surfaces a couple may find themselves forced to deal with their attraction issue—a more authentic, yet dangerous place to be. This could manifest in both physical and emotional distance. To quote Roseanne Rosannadanna: While the nitpicker is always on the watch, demonstrating a lack of respect might be less consistent but more stinging.
Insulting a partner in public seems to be a fan favorite, or unfavorably comparing your partner to a neighbor, family member, or someone at work. A nice touch is to compare your partner with one of their competitors or someone they despise. A lack of attraction with little to no sex may be bad enough, but many couples who are stuck in sexless partnerships oftentimes demonstrate little affection towards one another.
Rarely do they put their arms around one another or sit in close proximity. One female client made a deal with her distancing husband: But social media routinely uses attraction and sex to sell. Divorce is still stigmatized—less so now than in previous decades—but it is certainly not celebrated.