Whoa! What do you do when you don't find your partner as attractive anymore?
Maybe s/he gained weight, lost weight, buffed up, slouched down, shaved their head, got a tattoo, went bald, or lost a leg or their hearing.
What do you do?
First of all, good for you if you have figured out and can admit to yourself that you don’t find your partner attractive anymore. That’s a great starting place. Knowing what it is that is bothering you and being able to give it a name is the beginning of honesty with yourself.
Sometimes, we are actually embarrassed to say what is true for us. Don’t be. You are allowed to like what you like, and be upset. The big thing is what you do after you’ve been honest with yourself.
WHAT DO YOU TELL YOUR PARTNER?
Nothing until you’ve worked it through yourself!
I recently worked with a couple who were slowly creating greater and greater distance between them. Smiling at each other, and wanting to protect one another, they seemed to think that staying silent and ignoring the rhino in the room were the best strategies.
NO! Silence is productive–and wise–while you figure yourself out. You don’t want to blurt out what you think it might be, and find that’s not what's bothering you at all. Once you’ve done the work to accurately isolate the issue, you need to talk that issue out with someone who can really help. (Note to Self: Ususally best to do that with a professional, not your friend.)
Why is that important? It’s because, when there is a big issue that is coming between you and your ability to love, trust, respect, and be honest with your partner, you need to actually work it out with your own values, beliefs and goals in mind BEFORE YOU BLURT! Sometimes, that’s a longer journey than you expected. Here’s a scenario:
Kim and Nathan got married about eighteen months ago. They both looked spectacular for the wedding: slim, fit, groomed and turned out. No effort, expense or energy expenditure was too much to look great for the big day.
Now, things have slowly changed. There has been job changes for Kim which required moving from that cute apartment in which they started married life. There have been big changes for Nathan as he slowly found how much he liked the “nesting” of married life. It surprised him because previously every party seemed like a good idea. Now he is having thoughts about savings plans, IRAs, 401(K)s, and is watching real estate prices.
Kim has settled into married life full of joy. She was the “nester” before they got married, and now, she wants to go out and do things with friends as a couple. She still enjoys her girlfriend time and cannot understand why Nathan is no longer is interested in guy time. With settling into married life, Kim has skipped the gym, enjoyed food, and now is a little chunkier than on that special day.
Two big problems–both losses–have arisen:
Kim feels she has lost that great guy who always wanted to find something to do , and was always ready for a party. He’s become so serious.
Nathan feels he has lost the woman who made coming home seem so attractive, AND, truth be told, he’s disappointed with the weight Kim has added. It doesn’t look or feel good to him.
“I don’t find my partner attractive like I used to.”
There it is, the naked truth. In eighteen months, things have changed. That’s life, that’s relationship, and that’s the way it goes.
No one who doesn’t live permanently in Disneyland can honestly think that anyone they are in relationship with is not going to change! Snow White and Mickey Mouse may always stay the same, but Kim and Nathan? Not so much!
There is a very good reason that my relationship advice to couples: "Date for a year, Wait for a year". After a year of dating, you likely know if s/he is "the one". Commit. Then, give yourselves a year of being engaged, consciously committed to each other for the long haul, before moving to the next stage. Just making a commitment brings many shifts in your perspective.
And, now would be a good time for full disclosure on your parts: If you are really honest with yourselves and know you're just trying out a roommate with available sex options, blunder on. The outrageous divorce statistics show us that far too many people jump into commitments with one foot out the door!
Kim and Nathan did not take time to establish themselves as a committed couple. Instead they had a whirlwind, feel-good courtship, a four month engagement spent entirely on creating the perfect wedding rather than on getting to know each other in ways that really matter, and a big-splash wedding and honeymoon. They returned from all that excitement with a big “What now?” question.
The trial and error method of developing relationship that Kim and Nathan used is a very “iffy” system. Yes, it could work…if both partners were mature, healthy, trustworthy, honest and self-reflective. But, usually that trial-and-error method is filled with arguments, cold shoulders, flip-outs, a lot of saying sorry, and a slowly building resentment and alienation.
So, Kim and Nathan. Silent resentment building. Relationship dwindling. Life proceeding at the speed of light. And, neither of them finds the other as attractive anymore. A downer, but not the end of the world…or the relationship.
Really? That's not the way it feels.
Yes, really. Think about these ideas and stay tuned. In the next post, I'll give you some advice on what to say and do when all you can think is "I don't find my partner attractive anymore."
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor. Dr. Shaler helps clients worldwide thru Skype® to gather the clarity, insights and skills to create world class relationships. And, yes, she also helps them know when it is time to disengage peacefully and move on. Get valuable relationship insights, and information about her online six-week program, Before You Commit, at www.ForRelationshipHelp.com