I Am Not Physically Attracted to My Boyfriend. Can We Possibly Have a Future Together?

Hi Evan, I am in a very tricky situation and don’t know what to do, I found your web site and your advice are great. I hope you will answer my question, I need your precious advice too. I met a man online a few months ago, and, to make a long story short, we met, we are a great match intellectually/emotionally. I am concerned sometimes he is too attached to me and the way he started to make long term plans with me quite soon, but this isn’t a real problem.

The real problem is that I don’t find him attractive. He is not ugly but I don’t like his features and overall appearance. Physically, I find he is not a “match” for me and I am not proud of being so shallow. I don’t know what to do because other than that he is just perfect and I like him very much, he makes me feel very good. But I am not sure if I should be making plans with a man I don’t feel much attraction for. I decided to tell him the truth about my feelings and he said he will take all the steps necessary to improve himself physically as he doesn’t want to lose me. I am torn. Is he really the man of my life if physically I don’t like him the way he is?

Thanks you so much for your help. Mia

Making a life-long decision based on attraction is like getting a tattoo with someone’s name on your back and breaking up four months later

Mia, I can’t answer your question, because NOBODY can answer your question. Attraction is the big X Factor in any relationship. When you have it, you don’t think twice about it. When you don’t have it, it’s hard to overcome. Which would seem to indicate that you should break up with your boyfriend. Not so fast. I’ve put a lot of thought into the pros and cons of how much you should weigh the lack of physical attraction in a relationship. I urge you to consider this before taking any rash steps.

Reasons for Staying Together Despite a Lack of Physical Attraction

Ask most long-term married couples about the relative importance of sex in their lives, they will generally say things like “It’s the dessert, not the main course”. And it’s true. It’s just hard to consider that when you’re 27. But realize that in 10 years, you’re 37, raising little ones and your life is no longer your own. By 47, your bodies have thickened and drooped. By 57, you’re probably finishing menopause and his libido is largely gone. By 67, you’re thinking of retirement, travel and grandkids. By 77, you’re hoping just to stay healthy, and … Can you see how making a decision based on attraction is a perfect example of short-term thinking? Like getting a tattoo with someone’s name on your back and breaking up four months later. The truth is that life lasts for a REALLY, REALLY long time.

And yet we base our relationship decisions on evanescent emotions like lust, passion, and chemistry. Fact: In relationship studies, traditional “attraction” wears off within 18-24 months of dating. This probably corresponds to what you’ve experienced in real life – namely, that it’s hard to get “excited” about someone with whom you’ve been intimate for two years straight. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but if you ask most married couples, the nature of sex changes. Sure, you might be that rare “three times a night” couple well into your fifties, but most of those clichés about parents not having time or energy for sex are true.

We’re attracted to what we’re attracted to – often to our own detriment.

So if life becomes more about responsibility, friendship, compatibility and all those other “boring” things that old married couples cite, how much emphasis should we put on physical attraction in our 20’s/30’s? It is no secret that compatibility is a stronger predictor of relationship health than chemistry. Yet chemistry is what we chase – somehow hoping that it turns into compatibility as well. It rarely does. Look at your most “passionate” relationships. Where are they now? Exactly. Yet we can’t help ourselves. We’re attracted to what we’re attracted to – often to our own detriment. Which is how men end up with hot crazy women and women end up with hot emotionally unavailable men.

This isn’t my opinion. This is life. Just look around. Does this mean that you should stay with your amazing boyfriend even if you don’t feel attracted? Ah, if it were only that simple…

Reasons to Break Up Because of a Lack of Physical Attraction

As you know, sexual attraction rarely grows over time. With men, this almost never happens. With women, it tends to be correlated to her feelings about her partner. However, this is presuming a steady baseline of attraction from which to grow. If there is NO attraction to start, there’s not even any room to go down. That’s a rough proposition for you to endure with a boyfriend. Thus, it’s impossible to convince you to give a shot to someone you’re purely NOT attracted to. No rational thinking is going to overcome your genetic and cultural biases.

So we discriminate on age and height and weight and dozens of minute details of which we may not even be aware. Then there’s the Paradox of Choice. We dissect others physically, although none of us wants to be dissected physically as well. I can explain this phenomenon – as author Barry Schwartz did for a few hundred pages in his amazing book, but, at the end of the day, we can’t help ourselves. As noted dating guru David DeAngelo says, “Attraction is not a choice”. We’re still going to crave choice and variety, and something approximating societal ideas of perfection, however unrealistic this might be.

In a good relationship, sex is the dessert, not the main course

If you doubt this yourself, go to an online dating site and make a list of your “favorites”. Odds are, they’re going to be among the most physically attractive singles on the site. That doesn’t mean that you don’t care about who they are as people – what they do, what they earn, what they believe – but it all starts with attraction. The problem is that when we compare people side by side, great catches often lose out. Why respond to the 5’5″ guy when there are six-footers out there? Why go out with the heavyset person when you can write to a lean model-type? Why go out with the 45-year-old when you can try the 29-year-old? Once again, this isn’t my opinion. 20/20 did a study years ago in which women were more likely to date a cute 6’1″ plumber than a 5’4″ heart surgeon/concert pianist. But hey, you can’t help what you’re attracted to.

That doesn’t mean you’re shallow – no more than anyone else. It just means you’re human. The other long-term thing to consider about why it’s important to have attraction is that in a monogamous relationship, there’s only ONE person with whom you’ll be having sex for the rest of your life. In that case, well, you’d BETTER have some measure of attraction. Anything less is a recipe for wandering eyes and future infidelity.

Which brings us to the moment of truth. You know that sex is the dessert and not the main course…but you know that this is the only person you’ll ever be with again. You know that companionship is more valuable than lust over 40 years…but you know that attraction is important and won’t get better over time. So should you stay or should you go if you’re not that physically attracted to your partner? It all comes down to your own internal compromise mechanism. Because there’s a difference between observing that your boyfriend’s got a paunch and being physically repulsed by him. Only you can decide. If you’re turned OFF by him, the whole thing’s a non-starter.

You’re not doing yourself (or him) any favors by staying with him if he has no ability to excite you. However, if he’s somewhere in the broader spectrum – somewhere between a 5-7 on the attraction scale, you may want to think twice before you toss him back in the sea. First, ask yourself if he – or another man – could dissect YOU physically as well. How about emotionally? Intellectually? It’s simple to find fault with others, but there’s a certain grace and wisdom in loving people in spite of their flaws, just as you’d like to be loved in spite of yours.

We often underestimate how rare it is to find someone who loves us unconditionally

Second, ask yourself if your boyfriend – despite your middling attraction for him – can make up for it in bed. If he’s energetic, passionate, and devoted to your pleasure, he may be more valuable to your love life than someone who is more aesthetically pleasing with the lights on. Finally, ask yourself if you can do appreciably better. We often underestimate how rare it is to have a partner who loves us unconditionally.

Very often, the second you assume the grass is greener is the second you may find yourself in an exciting new romance…with a guy who only texts you once a week. Attraction is an intensely personal choice and is fundamental to maintaining a healthy sex life. But don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re better off with a 7 in attraction and a 10 in compatibility, than you are with a 10 in attraction and a 4 in compatibility.

Warmest wishes,

Much love,

Evan

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Comments:

  1. 211
    Dany

    Great article!

  2. 212
    Nat

    This is a great article! Thank you for all of your insights! There are so many people in relationships like these. Myself included.

    I have been with someone for a few years now that I’m still not attracted to physically. Even though we get along like actual soulmates on every other level possible, I have still never quite found the right recipe with this person to have that throbbing urge to maul them. There have been times where I completely have not been into sex at all, for probably a couple of months at a time. It really sucks because I find myself fantasizing about people I have come across/met, though I’ve never acted on anything before. It is hard when you have those options around you and honestly sometimes you’re wondering why you don’t act on them. I can honestly say that I don’t stray because I can see this person as my life partner. We honestly connect from the soul. I haven’t lived a full life yet, but I really do think after meeting someone like this, I am so blessed that someone can love me this much. I suppose it’s shallow to want to be with someone who is your equal attraction wise, but you can’t always have everything you want in life.

    If you do have it all, then I congratulate you for finding such a rare thing. For those of you in my shoes, really take the time to think about your compatibility with each other, and know that that is something you will have together when you grow old together decades from now.

  3. 213
    Jessica

    I’m going through the same thing. I am married to the nicest guy ever. But the only thing I loved about him was the fact that he was nice. We have been married for 4 years and known each other for 7 years but I’m not in love anymore, I’m doubting if I ever been in love in the first place or I was just excited to have someone who deeply cares about me. The thought of having sex makes me sick

    1. 213.1
      hunter

      Jessica,…

      a therapist can help with your situation

       

  4. 214
    Ashley

    This was really good advice! I am having a lot of trouble in this field currently.

    I met this guy and let me tell you, he is the most sweetest and caring man I have ever met. He is everything that I have looked for in a man. He calls me every day, he even drove 2 hours just to see me for only a half an hour and he drove back. He admitted to me that he has a history of drug abuse and he has been in rehab for over 4 years and since then, has not touched the booze or the drugs. He has been wanting to kiss me and I keep telling him no because I want to be safe. I told him if he eventually wanted to kiss me, then he needs to take a blood test and have me see the certificate from the doctors to make sure he is clean. I even told him that I would do the same thing. He says he respected that and he is going to do it. But of course to make a long story short, I am not really sexually attracted to him and it sucks. Like here is this perfect guy, as sweet as can be, hard worker with a great job but there is no spark there. And my dad would always say “There has to be some sort of sexual attraction to make a relationship work” and I’m starting to think that he is right. Where as my mom is always like “It does not matter about the looks, as long as he treats you right and makes you feel like a goddess”. I don’t know what to do. Plus I also think about the future a lot and I want to become a mother one day and I want to find the perfect mate. I hate to sound so childish but, I don’t want to have ugly kids. I also have always preferred this one race of people that I have been so attracted to and I have always wanted to marry one and have kids with him. And I feel as if I should wait for that but at the same time, I am not going to have it because of where I live (not that they are in a different country, is that they mainly are in hotter areas like Texas, Arizona etc.)

    I don’t know. Maybe time will tell.

    1. 214.1
      Lala

      What race of man do you desire that is mostly in arizona and texas? It made me giggle. I have lived in several states in the US and there are different races and ethnicities all over. Arizona and Texas have black, white, hispanic, asian, so on so I have no clue what state you live that that race doesn’t live. Lol. You sound young and/or sheltered. Focus on growing yourself right now…not on a man of a certain desired race.

  5. 215
    ONEBEN

    Really wise text. Thanks so much for your imput and potentially life changing advices 🙂

    My GF is great, and we have an amazing sex life…. I was just never into small round girl (she is build like that, not a lot of things she can change)…. But admitidly, I don’t want to make short terms decisions.  Thanks again !

  6. 216
    M Garrison

    Compatibility, me and my BF are borderline 11 on a scale of 1-10. Attraction to my BF is 0 or in the negative’s! Just turned 40 he loves me unconditionally always there for me and a wonderful person with whom I have so much in common with… but I find him physically revolting… we’ve been together 3 years and they have been wonderful and happy… I just have to have 3-4 glasses of wine before we go there once or twice a month… I’ve encouraged him to lose weight, stop smoking, see a ENT  for snoring, buy some new clothes, have some cosmetic work done for under eye bags… None of which he has done…

  7. 217
    Renee

    I feel really reassured knowing that I’m not the only person who is in this kind of situation. I’m with this guy and i’m honestly very turned off by him. He’s was always a nice person I just don’t find him attractive. My problem is that I’m terrified to end things with him. Im 16. He is extremely popular. he has a large friend group and they’re all the most well known guys in school who throw the biggest parties and hold the most influence, and he is a sensitive person and shares everything with his friends. I feel that if I end thinngs with him I’m going to become a villain in the eyes of the most popular and very large group in school no matter how nicely I end it, and I really donnt want that for my last 2 years of high school.

  8. 218
    cristy jones

    Please let him go if you think so, otherwise both of you will suffer whole life as I am .

  9. 219
    Often

    So so happy I’ve come across this page.  And reading all these different stories, makes me feel so much better that I’m not alone in this.

    I’ve had the same problem with my bf of almost 2 years. We go together so well. He treats me like a princess and he has the kindest heart ever, so pure. I am his first real gf, so being intimate is frustrating. He doesn’t really know what to do and even when I show him it doesn’t really work.. I’m just not that attracted to him? I’m not sure. I’ve also been very depressed and had some really damaging past relationships that I seem to think are catching up with me now.  Blocking me from any sexual feelings. I can see a future with him, he would be the perfect dad to my kids and we both want the same… I love being with him, he’s my best friend. But.. I have no idea if this will ever work if the sex doesn’t get better… A life without him, that thought is killing me. But I don’t want to be selfish. And he deserves better,…. my only hope is to really work on the sex part and maybe even therapy together…

    I’m so upset about it.

  10. 220
    Julie

    I am stuck in a completely different problem. My bf is very attractive, we are super compatible but every time we are about to have sex, I just can’t. Sex is so terrible, I often end up crying and hating my life… Outside of sex, we are great companions, we have a lot of fun, emotionally, intellectually we are made for each other, Im sure he would be the best father for my children…but our intimate life together is a disaster. It has always been, ever since the first kiss I have always been turned off by him, but I always hoped things will change, I will teach him, we will develop together. Over the 12 years together things went from bad to worse and Im stuck not knowing wether I can continue a relationship without sex. It is just too important to give it up in my early thirties…

    1. 220.1
      hunter

      Julie, you, and many other women, feel the same way….

  11. 221
    Bigred

    This helped me with my thinking! Thank you so much that was really some amazing advice! You are so right about all of it!

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