Is it normal to not feel attracted to your partner?
Sexual attraction and desire are part of what make relationships hot. In the early stages, you can’t keep your hands off your partner. You revel in kissing and making out. You have sex until four in the morning. You stay up for hours just chatting and touching and exploring each other.
In long-term relationships, desire is harder to sustain. It doesn’t disappear automatically or overnight, but it does require intentional effort. That’s because desire and attraction are partly linked to novelty and newness. No matter how intense your connection is at first, once a partnership is no longer new, it can start to feel a little stale.
This can be true especially for women, who may be more likely than men to find that their desire type is “responsive.”
If your desire is spontaneous, you feel mentally into sex before you experience any physical stimulation or arousal. If your desire is responsive, you usually need physical stimulation before you feel mentally into sex. People with responsive desire often mistake it for a low sex drive. In fact, responsive desire is more common than spontaneous desire. It also has nothing to do with the quality of your relationship, but in a long-term partnership it can be harder to work with.
Long-term relationships also involve more everyday stressors and life commitments, which can distract you from fully experiencing and making room for desire.
Like any change in how you relate to others, take time to reflect on whether your loss of attraction has deeper roots. Is it really a loss of heart? If so, what would you like to do next? You can address diminished sexual desire in several ways, but a loss of heart might require some extra help.
Whatever the reason, it’s very normal to lose some attraction to your partner over time. The important thing is to approach each other with compassion instead of ringing alarms. Although many couples deal with this issue, many are also able to work through it. Here’s how.
What do you do if you don’t find your partner attractive?
Realizing that you’re not attracted to your partner can feel overwhelming. There’s a social expectation that being in love means being head over heels and hungry for each other at all times, but that’s not reality. According to Psychology Today, 60% of people experience ongoing sexual desire problems. You are not alone!
First, take a moment to acknowledge that all relationships go through ups and downs. They might relate to changes like getting a new job, having a child, or just having a lot going on right now. Desire flourishes with a stress free, happy, and healthy lifestyle, and can falter without it. Are there areas of your life that deserve a little more care?
Then, consider how you center pleasure in your relationship and your lives. If you’re wondering why you’ve lost interest in your partner, it might simply be because you don’t give time or space to engage sexually with one another. Instead, prioritize the erotic. Add time for scheduled sex to your calendars, and stick to it.
Desire is often responsive, so even if you don’t initially feel mentally excited about sex, touch and kisses without being attached to sex as an outcome can lead to a spark. Even if you explore erotically together during that time in other ways, committing to regular scheduled time for sex can help you connect more with each other and your desire.
Finally, consider the ways you don’t center desire in your lives. For one example, if you have kids, calling each other “Mommy” or “Daddy” (in the parent sense, not the adult play sense) can desexualize you and zap desire. Your partner is your lover, not just your co-parent.
For another example, novelty is part of what drives desire and attraction. How often do you stick with known topics, activities, or ways to relate to each other, versus exploring something new?
One way to start is by watching your partner as they do something they’re great at and love, whether it’s expressing themselves creatively, playing a sport, or giving a presentation. Observing them as if you’re strangers can remind you that you don’t know everything about each other, and create a sense of newness.
Sometimes sex will be the center of your life or relationship, and sometimes it won’t be. If you feel your lack of attraction runs deeper, visit a couple's therapist. They’ll guide you in having an open and honest discussion together. This will be really important for preventing any issues bubbling under the surface that can lead to bigger problems.
You can get through this, together!
For more advice on driving up your desire, connecting with your partner, and improving your sex life, download the Lover app today.