There is nothing like that fire you feel when your relationship is fresh and you are so attracted to your partner, it’s hard to keep your hands off one another. Over time, for some people, the attraction fades and the novelty wears off, which is a very normal part of being in a relationship. But for others, the sexual attraction disappears completely, and it can be tough to overcome.
But is this normal? Is it worth ending a relationship over? We spoke with experts to let you in on why this happens, if you can overcome it and how.
First, it’s important to understand that losing sexual attraction happens to most couples as we move on with our normal life. Dr. Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of How To Be Happy Partners: Working It Out Together, tells SheKnows that decreased attraction “is very common as time passes in relationships.”
Debi Silber, a transformational psychologist and health, mindset and personal-development speaker, tells SheKnows that a decrease in sexual attraction to your partner happens when your needs and expectations are unmet. When this happens, she explains, you’re not feeling as attracted to your partner as you once were, which “is a natural response,” as many of us pull back, especially if we have communicated to our partner what we need and we don’t feel heard.
This makes us “feel unimportant, disregarded and, in their eyes, not taken seriously,” she adds.
Silber says another factor is physical attraction decreases if we feel our partner has “let themselves go.” It sends a message our partner no longer cares about looking nice for us. “Neglected physical health and hygiene can be conveyed as a sign of disrespect to the other person,” she notes.
Along the same lines, Tessina reminds us that it is easy to feel attracted to each other when you aren’t living together, but as your relationship evolves and you share a home, “romantic moments are no longer automatic,” and everyday things no longer feel exciting, as it’s easy to fall into a rhythm.
But Dr. Julie Gurner, a clinical psychologist, says that it’s about more than looks. “Attraction isn’t simply about physical appearance,” she tells SheKnows, adding that people evolve over the duration of relationships, which can lead to them being less attracted to their partners.
Gurner also says people lose their attraction for their partners when it comes to things like being unsupportive, as it causes us to see an ugly side of our partner and we lose attraction.
According to Silber, yes, it is possible, but first “you must realize what caused the decreased attraction in the first place.” For instance, maybe you started neglecting each other because you were too tired. A good place to start is to make a commitment to spend more time alone together, she adds.
Decreased attraction has to be replaced with “affection, a sense of humor and intimate communication” Tessina says. It’s also important to note it takes two willing people to get things going again, and “you both need to create ways to communicate that you want to be close to each other,” she adds.
It’s also important to note that over time, sex may be less about having an orgasm, and instead, “the focus should be on pleasure,” Tessina says.
As unromantic as it may sound, Tessina recommends scheduling sex, communicating to your partner and trying some new stuff in the bedroom to spice things up.
The good news? Gurner says that unless something happened in the relationship that is very painful, most partners can get the attraction back if you and your partner care enough to put in the work it takes to get there.
It’s important to remember all relationships go through ebbs and flows and if you look back and remember what attracted you to them in the first place, think about why you don’t see them the same way anymore and can communicate these things to your partner in a supportive way, there is hope you can get those old feelings back.
A version of this story was published August 2018.
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