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

8
6

Join 5 Million Readers

And the thousands of women I've helped find true love. Sign up for weekly updates for help understanding men.

I hate spam as much as you do, therefore I will never sell, rent, or give away your email address.

Join our conversation (129 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 121
    Mandy Kloppers

    This does seem to be a common problem , especially in longer term relationships. Thanks for the good advice and the perspective Evan!
    Mandy 

  2. 122
    Cheryl

    This could not be more true! I began dating last year after 20+ years in an incompatible marriage. Hotness doesn’t last. I’ve been seeing an amazing, thoughtful, kind, emotionally available, intelligent, slightly “dorky” (as my teenage daughter describes him) man and couldn’t possibly be any happier. While he may be a 6 in outward appearance, he’s definitely a 10 inside and a 10 as a lover. I am having the best sex of my life at 51 and am so glad that I didn’t dismiss him. I told my daughter, “yes, I recognize his dorkiness, but give him a chance and he will grow on you “. She did and we have both grown to love him. I am so excited for our future together and I thank him every day for coming into my life.

  3. 123
    Assyarian

     I really like your answer especially your quotes ”We often underestimate how rare it is to find someone who loves us unconditionally”.
    Actually I also have same problems but in my side, I always think I’m not physical attraction for my boyfriend but he never complaint. I just not confident with myself, and now we must lives separate because I worked in other country. I really afraid he look for other girl because we didn’t do sex for long time, but he always said he too busy with his work to think about cheat. Maybe I need to build more trust to him, my boyfriend really shy guy and hard working. Even He only text me once a week or more less but he always gives concern about my happiness. Only him can understand me,and let me pursue my dreams 

  4. 124
    Candace Casey

    I had a boyfriend like this the thing was I could not picture a future with him because I wanted to be with someone I could stand to look at fortunately he wasnt really attracted to me either I never told him he was not attractive though I just dont think I was attracted to him to another girl he might have been the ideal guy

  5. 125
    Adb

    This article is exactly what I was searching for as I am currently going through the same exact situation. On paper the man I was seeing is exactly what you would want in a partner and exactly the ideal man that you would marry. From being very honest and kind and nice and a good listener in the list goes on and on but physically it does not exist. I have given myself five months now to see if physically I could be attracted to him and get past all of the things that I strongly dislike in his appearance. I have tried to take it very slow instead of diving into something so we have gone on plenty of dates and dining out and when I come back to my own feelings I am aware there is not one thing I find physically redeeming. When you start to get angry with how the person talks and walks and how they touch you and how badly they dress and how terrible their breath smells and how ugly their hair is, that’s when you realize it’s time to walk away and allow an amazing woman to love them just as they are.  The guy that I have been seeing has so many wonderful characteristics about him and emotionally we have a really great connection but physically and romantically I do not want him. How horrible is it that I cannot find one physical attribute redeeming . it’s time for me to step back and completely let go of him. Let another woman who will completely fall in love with who he is as well as his physical appearance adore him just as he is. I really appreciate all the comments about this article because it is helped me gain perspective and to be mature enough to walk away and stop wasting his time. With our lover not only should we have an emotional connection with one another but we should also be physically attracted to each other where we want to be hugged and kissed. More recently I have discovered that I don’t want this man to hold my hand or cuddle with me because it just grosses me out. 

    1. 125.1
      Kathy

      How did he react when you told him? I’m kind of having the same problem. I recently started dating a  man that I met online. We have been in two dates already. He is great! everything I want in a partner: funny, smart, kind, romantic, generous, he is enthusiastic about me, he makes me feel special etc etc… But, Im not attracted to him and is so frustrating. He actually has a handsome face, amazing blue eyes and beautiful features but he is very overweight, like a 100 pounds overweight and I never have dated anyone that obese. I already told him how I feel but that I want to keep to knowing him and it breaks my heart, because he says he is doing all he can to lose weight but nothing happens. I told him he doesnt have to change to please people. I really want to be attracted to him but I cant force myself into something I dont feel. I dont know how long I can keep this going before really break his heart….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>