If The Lust Has Faded, Should I Dump My Great Boyfriend?

Hi Evan, I stumbled across your blog while looking for advice. It’s been really helpful for me so far! I have read what you’ve written on passion and chemistry, and I know you get a lot of questions on this topic. I am 27 and have been with my boyfriend for 3 years. He is the kindest, most compassionate guy I have ever known. He treats me like gold and is just the coolest, most gentle person who understands me completely and is always there for me. I feel safe and calm when I am with him. He makes me so happy and when we are together we have so much fun and I am always so happy I feel like I’m on cloud nine! He really does feel like my soulmate and I feel so lucky to have met someone like him. I love him very much and have a strong feeling that I always want to be there for him and make him happy. There is just one little problem…

I don’t feel that same passion and lust for him as I did when we first met. I am not super excited and giddy around him anymore. I used to want to jump his bones anywhere and everywhere, even in the supermarket. But that feeling has faded and now when we are doing everyday things together like shopping or cuddling on the couch I feel more of a peaceful comfort and warmth with him. Don’t get me wrong, I still find him attractive. I still love to be physical with him and we are constantly touching and kissing and cuddling. It’s just not that exciting anymore; it feels more comforting and warm and loving rather than lustful. I don’t think about him every second of the day anymore, don’t get butterflies in my stomach when I see him and don’t feel nervous, giddy or weak in the knees anymore. When we are together doing ordinary everyday things I don’t feel that intense lust anymore, but rather a warm comfort and joy. This makes me so confused. I love him so much and want to stay with him. I cant imagine being with anyone else. Isn’t a relationship or a marriage supposed to have that intense lust? Would I be wrong to stay in a relationship where the lust has faded? Marisa

 

Marry him.

Like, right now. Lock it in.

You’re in a dream relationship and you’re trying to find cracks in it.

That’s like inspecting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to see where Michelangelo colored outside the lines.

Just reread what you wrote above:

“He makes me so happy and when we are together we have so much fun and I am always so happy I feel like I’m on cloud nine! He really does feel like my soulmate and I feel so lucky to have met someone like him. I love him very much and have a strong feeling that I always want to be there for him and make him happy.”

 

This is what it’s all about, Marisa. And it’s not like you’re turned off by him:

You SHOULDN’T feel butterflies with the person who will be there until you die.

Don’t get me wrong, I still find him attractive. I still love to be physical with him and we are constantly touching and kissing and cuddling. It’s just not that exciting anymore; it feels more comforting and warm and loving rather than lustful. I don’t think about him every second of the day anymore, don’t get butterflies in my stomach when I see him and don’t feel nervous, giddy or weak in the knees anymore.

This is exactly what healthy relationships should be like. You SHOULDN’T be nervous around your best friend. You SHOULDN’T obsess about the man you’ve loved for 3 years. You SHOULDN’T feel butterflies with the person who will be there until you die.

That’s what happens at the beginning – and, to make sure you feel normal – this feeling wears off within 18-24 months in most relationships, according to Dr. Helen Fisher, author of “Why We Love”.

Which is why, as a dating coach, I spend most of my time telling women to find the relationship that feels EXACTLY like yours does, Marisa!

You’ve hit the lottery and you’re worried about paying taxes on it? Really?

Just know that the “exciting, shiny new car” that you bought last week will, in two or three years, just be known as “your car”.

That’s how things work. They’re exciting when they’re new and comfortable when they’re old. People who chase that exciting new feeling are the ones who are either perpetually single, perpetually trying to “trade up” in relationships, or prone to cheating because they feel that the grass is always greener.

Perhaps Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice”, said it best in Lori Gottlieb’s “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.” To paraphrase:

…what you should do when you’re dating is attempting to find the “6” with whom you can spend the rest of your life.

At some point, you realize you shouldn’t marry a “10”, so you go for the “8”. But once you fall in love with the “8”, over time, once you get accustomed to him, he turns into a “6”. Once the bloom is off the rose, you start to think you can do better than your “6”, and you break up with him, only to find another “8”, forgetting of course, that in a few years, he, too, will become a “6”. So really, Schwartz advises, what you should do when you’re dating is attempting to find the “6” with whom you can spend the rest of your life.

My wife did that.

You’ve done that, Marisa.

And I can assure you, when you sit back and watch all the lustful couples break up while you’re growing old with your soulmate, you’re not going to have the second thoughts you’re having now.

Instead, you’re going to wonder how you could have ever thought your life would be better without this man by your side.

9
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Comments:

  1. 31
    Lance

    @Bill @Stacy, actually Bill is completely right. Men could care less about accomplishment and look at looks and attractiveness first and foremost. Hardly news. Bill doesn’t state an age range, so it’s possible that his definition of “youthfulness” extends to your range.

  2. 32
    Diana Brown

    Evan, the person who wrote this letter to you doesn’t seem genuine enough. Did she just make up this relationship? I mean the way she described her relationship seems a bit fake. Why would you ever describe your relationship as “without lust”?
    most likely i’m being overly judgmental and overly analytical here but based on what I read it doesn’t seem like a “real” relationship.

  3. 33
    A-L

    Congratulations on the baby’s birth, Evan!

  4. 34
    starthrower68

    @Lance #32,

    Ok so it is what it is. Looks first and foremost.  And if that’s the most important thing then no complaining about women beng gold diggers, psychotic, etc. 

  5. 35
    Steve

    @Karl  #26
     
    How not to make this sound harsh to either you or Bill?  While the marketing industry isn’t a giant prostitution ring like you wrote,  they do use women’s sex appeal to sell people everything from toothpaste to cars.   Given that is all about pure looks that explains Bill’s opinion.

  6. 36
    Goldie

    @Lance #32, actually Bill does specify the age range, see comment #13 – apparently a 27yo woman is past her prime… tee hee hee
     
    As for the letter, I suspect there is something else going on, otherwise the letter sounds pretty pointless. I mean, it’s a known fact that this red-hot physical attraction fades after 18 months or so – the letter is stating the obvious. Either the letter-writer is pulling our leg, or there are other concerns that she’s not telling us about ;) my 2 cents.
     
    I found the letter useful anyway – it’s a good guideline for what our end goal should be in this weird dating game :D
     
    @ Cat #33, wow, congrats Evan!! My first baby is turning 18 in three days, what a coincidence :)

  7. 37
    Stacy

    Lance #32

    Actually, he does specify the age and nobody said nothing about accomplishments on the side of a woman. So you may want to read more carefully.

    Steve #37

    If he really was in the industry, he’d know that most models work into their late 20-ies, and some continue working after they give birth. Jeez.

  8. 38
    Stacy

    …and I apologize for multiple posts, but to illustrate the point:

    In 2010:
    The average age of Vogue cover models in the past year is 34.5; Harper’s Bazaar, 32.5; Elle, 31.6; InStyle, 34.2; and W, 34.9.

    Their marketing guys must really be sleeping on the job!!

  9. 39
    Honey

    @Stacy, #40, know a lot of fellas who subscribe to those magazines, do you?
    What are the average ages of those on the cover of Playboy, Maxim, GQ, etc?

  10. 40
    Stacy

    Honey #41

    The circulation of Vogue and other fashion magazines is comparable to those of playboy and maxim. All these numbers are public. As to the age of the models, the age range of playboy cover models is between 18 (youngest legal in the US) to 35 (January 2003 cover). Hope this helps!

  11. 41
    Steve

    @Honey #41.   You win the “Shrewd Point Of The Evening” award.
     
    As far as the marketing, modeling, advertising world goes, I think Bill is right that things begin to change after 24.    I don’t think that is the case for the dating and romance world.   Unless someone gets hitched 24 is just the start.
     

  12. 42
    Jadafisk

    Most of the publications named – even (US) Vogue, primarily feature actresses and singers on the covers now, not models. The shelf life of an actress is longer by a decade or more. Models often start in their mid-teens and are done by the time that the entertainment career of a singer or actress is nearing its peak and at the time that most non-entertainment folks’ careers begin – in the mid 20s. Also, Hef is obsessed with college-aged women in their early 20s… the 35 year old is definitely an outlier – probably a bigger name, possibly attempting to revive a flagging career because that’s about the time that a female actress of meager gifts begins to fade, and a stint in Playboy is a common refuge for such cases.*

    That being said, (as Steve said) the world of relationships is going to be different. Ad execs care if 16 year old boys find the female lead in a movie/show/commercial appealing – they care a LOT. Your average woman has nothing to lose if that pool of males becomes disinterested in her. The main issue is that of a shrinking pool of singles when dates are chosen by a metric of dater’s age +__, as women often do.

    Lance – so… how do “objectively” (like 8 out of 10 consensus) unattractive women marry? They do it all of the time. 

    Also, what *about* the exhortations to “marry him?” Is she supposed to ask, because apparently he hasn’t.

    *And… it’s Tia Carrere. Am I right or am I right?

  13. 43
    Annie

    I think the offence to Bill’s comments are more related to how the woman in his scenario’s worth is primarily determined by her looks. Her looks decline, her worth declines, at least that is the implication.

    It is like valueing a man, on the amount of money he earns, another thing that Bill is implying. What a Sad way to view your own capacity as a human. Looks…vs Money.

    If I had have gotten married when I looked my best, I’d be a divorce statistic. Good thing I didn’t use my looks, to try and “rope em in” but made a half-assed attempt to be honest about my capacity to handle a marriage.

    And anyway, if a guy sees your value as less, because you look worse, then do you really want him? The difference in me now, and me back when I was a hottie(yes I was a hottie) is indescribible.

    Why do people value that which doesn’t really matter in the long run?

  14. 44
    Lance

    @Stacy et al, yes Bill did state an age range earlier and I missed it, so my mistake. in the online dating world, which is relevant to this discussion because much of Evan’s content is focused towards online daters, men do search for younger women and this is proven statistically. See this great article on OKTrends that anaylzes it:
    http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/the-case-for-an-older-woman/
    Quote:
    “A woman’s desirability peaks at 21, which, ironically enough is the age that men just begin their “prime,” i.e. become more desirable than average. Following that dotted line out, statistically speaking, a woman’s desirability
    peaks at 21, you can see that a woman of 31 is already ‘past her prime,’ while a man doesn’t become so until 36.”
    Personally, I LOVE women in the “older” age range (25 – 35) because, from my experience, they’re better in the sack. The article bears this out by calling this group more sex positive.

  15. 45
    Stacy

    Lance #46

    That statistical interpretation is interesting but it is, unfortunately completely useless. As the article states, 2/3 of their men demograpics is men under 30. Do I need to say more? No shit, sherlock, for these guys a 21-22 is the most desirable age. At the same time, the number of men who’d date a 21yo falls off the cliff for over 30 yo demographics and is zero for those older than 35. My statistics professor just loved dissecting the “damned lies” in class for our entertainment back in the day – perhaps I should send it over to him for the benefit of the next generation :)

  16. 46
    Stacy

    Jadafisk #44

    What difference does it make if they’re models, actresses, singers whatever. They’re featured on Vouge because they’re beautiful women. And as cusrious as it may be, the January 2003 playboy featuring a 35 yo model (also actress, singer and what not) was the top-selling issue of that year.

    I agree with you that it is an outlier and everything else you said about playboy. The sad fact is that a great deal of their models never make it to their 30th birthday at all. The more “hardcore”, the faster women get chewed up. That’s why I specifically excluded porn actresses/models, escorts and the like from my argument.

  17. 47
    Christie Hartman

    @Bill – Thanks for making what would have been a pretty dull commentary into a good debate. Of course, what you say may apply in some industries (porn, modeling). but it does not apply in industry that matters – the DATING industry. That’s my industry. There’s no evidence to support what you’re saying.
     
    @Lance – Yes, men do look at attractiveness “first and foremost,” but just because they check out looks first doesn’t mean that’s all they care about or that accomplishments don’t matter. Physical attraction alone will not sustain a relationship. I’ve seen the OK Cupid study, and what Stacy alludes to is correct – statistics are only as useful as the sample you analyze. And, other studies have shown that what people seek online does not often reflect what they’ll date offline.

  18. 48
    Goldie

    @#44,48
     
    If we’re arguing purely physical beauty, I’d say women that are being featured on Vogue are a combination of good looks, class, and accomplishment. You won’t get on the Vogue cover simply for looking great, you’d have to be a somebody, or else the reader won’t be interested. So it stands to reason that these women would be older.
     
    For a list of who gets chosen for their looks alone, I’d say this is a better reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Miss_Universe_titleholders You will see that most of these girls are 18-20, the oldest being the ripe old age of 26.
     
    Not that all of this has any bearing whatsoever on a woman’s standing as a potential LTR partner. I’m not a man, but something tells me guys have a different set of criteria for choosing a life companion than they would for choosing the next Miss Universe or a magazine-cover model, no?
     
     

  19. 49
    Karl R

    Goldie asked: (#50)
    “something tells me guys have a different set of criteria for choosing a life companion than they would for choosing the next Miss Universe or a magazine-cover model, no?”

    Depends on the guy.

    However, I don’t care whether Miss Universe or the cover girl is constantly annoying. I don’t expect to meet her. With my significant other (whom I see every morning/evening), her personality takes on a much higher significance.

    But I have known men who have chosen their life partners stupidly.

    To put it simply/crudely, if a woman is going to make my life miserable for the next 30-40 years, I don’t want to marry her. Even if she’s the most beautiful woman in the world.

    Miss Universe should be nice to look at. My life partner should be nice to live with. To any man with foresight, the difference between those two should be obvious.

  20. 50
    Jadafisk

    When I was 19-21, the lion’s share of the men who were paying attention to me were in their 30s. I wondered what was wrong with me because of this, pined after my age peers and spent my weekends alone. My mid-20s have been much, much better in comparison.

    Stacy – the vast majority of single men are going to be under 30. That being said, what types of relationships are these men looking for with 18-21 year olds online?

    Also, much is said about the peak marriageability age for women, but where’s the “sweet spot” for guys? What’s the age where they’re most likely to ask someone to marry, between the point where they’re still “playing the field” (early 20s) and the point that it’s generally assumed that if they haven’t been married already, they probably don’t want to marry at all (somewhere in the mid 40s)? Where would a wise woman concentrate her energies?

    #48 Because they’re valued for attributes encompassing but not limited to their physical beauty… their personality, style, talent and relateability. That’s why they eventually supplanted models – that combined with a concerted effort in fashion to take the focus off of the models and onto the clothes after the “age of the supers,” when models started to become celebrities in their own right and combined world class physical beauty with distinctive personas.* It’s not a 1:1 comparison because of those powerful confounding variables that contribute to public interest and popularity.

    *which likewise contributed to a much longer “run” than average for those models in particular

  21. 51
    Stacy

    Jadafisk:

    my experience is largely the same as yours.

    It is probably true that the majority of single men is going to be under 30, but the majority of 30yo women are going to be dating guys in their mid-late 30-ies and 40ies anyway, so what 23yo guys find attractive is highly irrelevant for this group of women, but what 25-40yo find attractive is.

    As to peak marriageability for men (love the term!), i think there’s no such thing. As Jack Donaghy put it in 30 rock “rich 50 is middle class 38″.

  22. 52
    Honey

    @Stacy, #42 – my point, which you are obviously deliberately ignoring, is that regardless of circulation numbers, WOMEN’S magazines sell women what WOMEN want to believe, and MEN’S magazines sell men what MEN want to believe.

    Women want to believe that they are beautiful when they’re in their 30s.  They also want to believe that accomplishments (say, acting) are at least as important as looks.  Poof!  There are your cover models.

    Men want to believe that 18-25 year olds are lining up for them.  Poof!  18 year olds with fake ta-tas on the cover of those magazines.

    What I am saying is that who is on the cover of magzines that are primarily purchased by women does not say anything about what men find attractive.

  23. 53
    Stacy

    Honey #54

    I am not “ignoring” your point, I’ve disproved it. The facts show that men-oriented magazines sell just as well or better when they feature “older” models in 27-35 range. This is where your point goes poof.

    There’s numerous reasons for men magazines to feature 18-yo, mostly financial and availability issues (who’s more available for a nude photo shoot, a multi-millionaire CK face 27yo or a dumb midwestern 18yo willing to work fo food?), etc. – it is business after all.

    As to what exactly men and women magazines sell, you’re dead wrog on this one. They do not sell what men/women want to believe (in that case Vogue models USA edition would be size 10), they sell people their dreams. And just as every horny guy out there is dreaming about a hot chick, women are dreaming about being beautiful and desired by men. Fashion models exemplify that dream, and are, in fact, high;y saught after by men.

  24. 54
    Honey

    @Stacy, I find your data and reasoning flawed.

  25. 55
    A-L

    Jadafisk asked, “Also, much is said about the peak marriageability age for women, but where’s the “sweet spot” for guys? What’s the age where they’re most likely to ask someone to marry, between the point where they’re still “playing the field” (early 20s) and the point that it’s generally assumed that if they haven’t been married already, they probably don’t want to marry at all (somewhere in the mid 40s)? Where would a wise woman concentrate her energies?”
     
    In the “My Faith Boyfriend Wants to Get a Better Job Before We Get Married” thread I did some research on typical marrying ages (posts 23, 24, & 28).  Here’s the most relevant portions:
     
    Median age of first marriage for women: 25.6
    Median age of first marriage for men: 27.5
     
    49.2% of men 25-29 have never married
    29.6% of men 30-34 have never married
    17.9% of men 35-44 have never married
    9.7% of men 45-54 have never married
    38.1% of women 25-29 have never married
    21.9% of women 30-34 have never married
    13.4% of women 35-44 have never married
    8% of women 45-54 have never married
     
    From what I recall of the statistics, if a guy hasn’t married by the time he hits 44, he’s not likely to do so.  And about 90% of men who are going to marry have done so by the time they hit 34 (assuming that the 9.7% of never married men age 45+ are never going to marry).  So for men I’d say that the greatest pool of marriage-interested men is 25-34, but if you find a marriage-minded man 35-44 then he’s likely looking to fast-track the relationship.

    1. 55.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      A-L,

      Thanks for the stats, but they don’t make total sense to me.

      If 70% of men have been married by age 35 and 95% have been married by 65, it sounds to me like it’s actually exceedingly LIKELY that a man will get married after 34. This is how statistics can be made to misrepresent the truth.

      Second of all, the greatest pool of marriage-interested men doesn’t necessarily mean the greatest pool of marriage-READY men, especially given that Elizabeth Gilbert statistic from Commmitted that 75% of marriages in which the participants are under 25 end in divorce.

      From where I sit, the sweet spot for men is 35-40 (at least educated, successful men in big cities). Out of my five closest college friends, ALL of us got married between 35-38. For whatever that’s worth.

      EMK

  26. 56
    A-L

    Evan,

    I think the commenters in this blog are outliers.  Yeah, I didn’t get married until I was 30.  Most of my closest college friends will have gotten married between 29-32.  BUT, we’re not the norm.  I went to college in Indiana where lots of people got married right out of college.  And of those that I know about, all but one couple are still married 9 years later.  Some were engineers, while others were went through medical or law school together.  Where I work (as a teacher) in Louisiana, most of the staff married their spouse in their 20s, and are still together.  Obviously getting married at a young age wasn’t for me, but it does work for many.  I think big city folks skew the results here.

    Getting back to the statistics, let’s look at the breakdown again. 

    Men 25-34: 50% of men are still available.  If a guy is single at 25 there is a 65% chance he’ll be married before he hits 35, and only 10% of this pool will never marry.

    Men 35-44: Only 18% of men are still available.  If a guy is single at 35 there’s a 45% chance he’ll get married before the age of 45 and a 28% chance that he never will. 

    Men 45-54: Only 9.7% of men are still available.  If a guy is single at 45 there’s a 28% chance he’ll be married before he turns 55, and there’s a 50% chance that he will never marry.

    Jadafisk wanted to know the age at which most guys are most likely to ask someone to get married.  That time is 25-34.  Not that guys aren’t getting married after that, but it’s dropping significantly.

    And as a female, I’d want the largest pool of men to choose from.  I’d want a pool of men where most guys want to get married, and I’m unlikely to end up with someone who will never want to marry, or doesn’t want to marry for a couple more decades. 

    By the time we get to 35, 82% of men have already been picked over.  
    Though there are definitely some winners in the older brackets, there’s a lot more competition for those men.  And for what the rest of that older bracket contains…it’s slim pickings.  You get more of the commitment-phobes, the players, the socially awkward, those who still haven’t cut the apron-ties to Mommy (Yes, I’m stealing from you.)  So yeah, I think the statistics are relevant.

  27. 57
    Ava

    A-L #59
     
    <<Though there are definitely some winners in the older brackets, there’s a lot more competition for those men.  And for what the rest of that older bracket contains…it’s slim pickings.  You get more of the commitment-phobes, the players, the socially awkward, those who still haven’t cut the apron-ties to Mommy>>

    And you forgot another category: the strange and crazy ones. This is what I’m dealing with now. 

  28. 58
    Diana

    I recently read that the average age to get married in the US is 26 for women and 28 for men.

  29. 59
    Selena

    How do the stats factor for divorce A_L?  Most of the men I’ve known were married before the age of 35, but a good number of them found themselves single again at some point. So if one is looking at an age range above age 34, are 82% of men currently married? Or have been married? Would make a big difference as far as an availability pool I would think.

  30. 60
    Karl R

    Selena asked: (#62)
    “So if one is looking at an age range above age 34, are 82% of men currently married? Or have been married?”

    Have been married. Here are the currently married stats for 2010:
    MALE
    25-29: 32.6%
    30-34: 54.6%
    35-39: 64.4%
    40-44: 65.2%
    45-49: 66.1%
    50-54: 68.5%
    55-64: 71.8%
    65-74: 76.4%
    75-84: 71.8%
    85+: 57.7%

    FEMALE
    25-29: 44.1%
    30-34: 59.8%
    35-39: 65.5%
    40-44: 66.6%
    45-49: 65.1%
    50-54: 64.8%
    55-64: 64.6%
    65-74: 54.6%
    75-84: 37.3%
    85+: 17.7%

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