What to Do If You’re in a Long-term Relationship and You Think You’re Not Attracted to Your Partner
You used to stare across the dinner table and wink at each other; lately though, you barely even look each other in the eyes. You used to call each other multiple times a day; but now you barely talk. And don’t even get started about the difference in your intimacy from the start of your relationship to now; it’s like night and day.
What’s happened? Clearly you’re in a long-term relationship and you fear you’re no longer attracted to your partner. You still like each other, but the spark seems to be gone. It’s a pretty normal spot to be in if you’re in a long-term relationship—but it doesn’t mean you want to stay in this spot. And how did you get here? It definitely wasn’t intentional, and it didn’t happen overnight. But somehow it happened. Now what?
Here are seven tips to help you get back on track.
•Realize All Relationships Have Ups and Downs
The beginning of a relationship is exciting. You’re with someone new and you know very little about each other. Your brain craves the newness of this whole new experience. You feel butterflies and are anxious to spend time together. But after a while, those feelings change a little. You get to know each other’s faults, and while you are still attracted, life starts to get in the way.
The longer you are together, you will likely go through big things together, like losing a job, enduring health issues, death of a loved one, etc. Then there are daily stresses of being a couple, such as living together, merging finances, and more. You tend to spend more time focused on these other things than each other; so it’s only natural that you aren’t feeling that loving feeling at the moment. But just know that this is normal.
If you were to start a relationship with someone new, of course it would be exciting—at first, anyway. The relationship would end up having similar ups and downs. So take heart. You’ve made it this far with your mate, and you can go further.
•Address Any Emotional Issues
Sometimes a loss of attraction comes because there are deep emotional issues, such as abuse, or other bad experiences in the past, or even something going on right now. If that is true, then it can be hard to open up and let your current partner in.
If you want to help your relationship, then it’s time to address any emotional issues you may have. Seek the help of a reputable, experienced counselor. At some point, it may be helpful to have your partner join you at a counseling session.
These emotional issues may be new, or they may be old. Sometimes emotional issues resurface for some unknown reason. If they are new, you may be protecting yourself by pulling away. Either way, the quicker you address these issues, the quicker you can get back on track with your partner.
•Focus on What You Love About Each Other
Life is so full of negativity, it has a way of creeping into our relationships. After two people have been together for a long time, they see every part of each other, warts and all. It’s only human nature to forget why we fell in love in the first place. We get blinded by the annoying parts of life and each other. Maybe your partner leaves his socks everywhere or can’t ever find his keys. Maybe she is demanding or takes too long in the shower. After a while it’s all we think about. If that’s true in your relationship, it’s no wonder you aren’t feeling attracted to your partner anymore. How can you feel attracted if you only focus on the negative.
Instead, let go of that. Focus on what you love about each other. Maybe he is forgiving and playful. Maybe she is a great cook and does thoughtful things. Focus on those things instead. Feel grateful you are so lucky to have a partner like that. Remember why you fell in love in the first place and soon you’ll feel those attractive thoughts come back.
•Schedule Regular Date Nights
If you’ve gotten too busy lately, you’re probably not spending quality alone time with your partner. Sure, you’re together in the car or at home. But when was the last time you went out, just the two of you?
Schedule regular date nights to show that your relationship is important. A night out every week will speak volumes and be an opportunity for you both to act like a couple out in public. It may be just the spark your relationship needs.
Don’t let lack of time or money be an excuse! You can do free or almost free activities, and they don’t have to take long—1-2 hours a week is definitely worth the effort you can put into your relationship. You’ll get plenty back in return.
•Watch Your Words
Your words have a huge impact on how you act and feel towards each other. Resolve to only say good things to your spouse. Even if your spouse does something you don’t like, you don’t have to respond by saying something rude or off-putting. The more negativity you bring into the relationship, the worse you will feel about each other. Turn things around by being positive with your words.
•Do Nice Things for Each Other
When we stop feeling attracted, we tend to stop doing nice things for each other. What’s the point, right? You convince yourself that they don’t appreciate you, anyway. But this is exactly the time to be doing nice things for your partner. You can’t serve someone and not love them. Love is action, and service is a perfect way to insight action.
Think about other people you serve, either friends or in the community. Don’t you feel good when you life your friend’s spirits or volunteer? You can have those same feelings of happiness when you serve your partner, and they could be a jump start to feeling attracted again. What better person to give of yourself to?
•Choose to Act in Loving Ways
In the end, love is a choice. Sure, it would be nice to feel loving all the time without any effort. And certainly it feels that way in the beginning of a relationship. It just seems so easy when you are first in love and you are both acting in loving ways toward each other. But eventually hard times come. You will both get stressed, tired, and frustrated. When one or both of you act unloving, it can be a vicious cycle that eventually leads to a loss of attractiveness.
Remember that you are both mature adults who can be willing and able to change. Love is a choice that you can make daily. If you choose to act in loving ways, you will feel love towards your partner. It may be more difficult than it sounds, especially if your relationship is in a tough place. So start small. How could you show your partner you love him? Iron his shirts even if he could easily do it himself; wash the dishes even though it’s usually her job; pick up your partner’s favorite dinner just because. Choose love, and receive love in return.
About the author: Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples in therapy. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is currently associated with Marriage.com, a reliable resource assisting millions of couples to resolve their marital issues. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts (Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy)