I Married A Man I’m Not Attracted To. Now What?


Hi Evan, I am stuck in a very tricky situation, which came in my life because of my wrong choices. I married a man to whom I am not physically attracted. I don’t like some of his facial features. For me somehow, a certain type of face seems attractive and a certain type does not. When I first started dating him, I just didn’t notice it and I liked him for being a nice guy. 2 months into our dating I realized I am just not attracted to him. 8 months after still dating him, I married him because of what my and his family members would think if I said no. My family likes him very much. As for me, he has a great body and is a genuinely nice person but because of my lack of physical attraction, I am just not in love with him. I did not marry him because of family pressure. There was none. I married him (knowing I wasn’t attracted to him) because I thought that over a period of time, I would start liking him. 3 months into our marriage and now he complains that I am not physically or emotionally close to him. I know I should have had a voice before, but what to do now? We have fights every other day over this issue and just nothing comes out of it. He is frustrated over the lack of intimacy. I am just not courageous enough to leave him and I could not say to him that I don’t love him. Can I change my mindset? Please tell me what you suggest. —Maya

Aw, Jesus, Maya.

You say so many things in your question that are easy to dissect that I don’t even know where to begin.

First of all, I’m really sorry you’re in this predicament. I’m not going to make light of the fact that you and your husband are unhappy, which is tragic. I will, however, wonder what exactly is making you tick.

“I just didn’t notice” his FACE?

I’m not even sure how this is possible, but I acknowledge that sometimes one can get into a relationship where passion is lacking. It’s more that your excuse seems to ring a little hollow.

You can prefer tall men and be open to shorter men. You can prefer dark hair and marry light hair. You can prefer small noses and fall for a man with a big nose.

“A certain type of face seems attractive”?

I get that not everyone on earth is equally good looking, but I very much want to caution you to being too attached to a “type”. You can prefer tall men and be open to shorter men. You can prefer dark hair and marry light hair. You can prefer small noses and fall for a man with a big nose.

Unless, of course, you decide that you can’t. Which would be a shame, because there’s a lot more to most people than a face.

Still, unless you were actively turned OFF by his face, I’m not sure how you got this far along in your relationship. Then again…

“2 months into our dating, I realized I am just not attracted to him.”

So you married him after 8 months to make your family happy.

Got it.

My official diagnosis, Maya, is that you’re not a bad person for dating a man with whom your attraction is questionable. People do it all the time. Some find their attraction grows when they start to love the person. Some discover that the spark isn’t enough to continue.

Your ridiculously massive mistake was MARRYING this man, even though you knew how you felt. That’s not his fault (although he was pretty foolish to propose to someone after 8 months) and it’s not your parents’ fault for loving him.

This is your fault, Maya, and only you can make it right.

Stop claiming that you’re not courageous enough to leave him. That’s a convenient excuse that you’re trotting out to avoid looking bad in front of your husband and family.

It’s not my place to tell you to make things work with this nice guy who loves you. Attraction is a very personal thing.

But since you asked me for advice, I’ll give it to you straight.

Stop claiming that you’re not courageous enough to leave him. That’s a convenient excuse that you’re trotting out to avoid looking bad in front of your husband and family.

It’s too late. You already look bad. You married a man who wants affection, you won’t give it to him, and he’s upset. Staying with him is not going to make things better.

Woman up, tell him the truth, and rip off the band aid.

And for god sakes, Maya, don’t repeat any of these mistakes with the next guy, okay?

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  1. 21
    Katherine Wakefield

    It sounds like you got swept along and hope that it would blossom.   You have done a lot to please others and make them happy and have overlooked your needs!
    I have been in a relationship like this and no matter how i tried it didnt develop.   I ended the relationship as it wouldnt have lasted long term.   He was a nice guy but if that connection isnt there it just isn’t.   You owe it to your husband and yourself to be honest and take action to prevent further distress.     

  2. 22

    Zann, I do think you are being a bit harsh. There is nothing in Maya’s story that would suggest she married her husband for pecuniary gain or gain of any sort. You are simply making that big leap of assumption. She made it quite clear that she married him because he was a good man and treated her right, and she hoped she would grow to love him. Lots of women make this kind of choice every day, having been brainwashed by the fact that they are being shallow for not loving a good man whom they do not find attractive. It all comes back to Evan’s previous post on “settling”. One fact that is being disputed here is whether or not there can be a relationship without sexual attraction. I think the general consensus here is that there must be some level of attraction for any relationship to have a shot at success. The next area of dispute is whether or not that attraction has to be based on looks. This is more contentious with some people arguing that looks should not matter.
    At the end of the day, only the individual involved is entitled to make that call. Maya may be shallow to some, but hey she is the one living with the man, not any of her critics here. It is her life, her decision. If she misses out on a good man, well that’s her loss due to her inability to get past certain things – like his face. And I don’t think Maya is necessarily young and immature. It is to her credit that she gave this man a chance – shame that she married him before realizing what her true feelings were.

  3. 23

    Androgynous #22

    <<Maya may be shallow to some, but hey she is the one living with the man, not any of her critics here. It is her life, her decision. >>

    Right, but she is also the one writing to a public advice blog for advice.

    <<If she misses out on a good man, well that’s her loss due to her inability to get past certain things — like his face. And I don’t think Maya is necessarily young and immature.>>
    That sounds like a contradiction. I don’t know how old she is, but anyone who marries because they are afraid of what their family thinks if they don’t, is not mature. And if she dislikes the face of the man she has agreed to love, honor, cherish, and look at, for the rest of her life, that sounds pretty shallow, immature, and perhaps even disturbed, to me.
    <<It is to her credit that she gave this man a chance — shame that she married him before realizing what her true feelings were.>>
    Marrying someone before you realize what your true feelings are is not doing anyone any favors. Unless problems arise later that you did not anticipate, you give someone a chance during the dating stage, not after you’ve agreed to spend the rest of your life with them.

  4. 24

    Evan, you said it all when you said: “Aw, Jesus, Maya”   Really.
    And Zann, I wholeheartedly agree and nearly snorted soda through my nose at your snarky, but completely real comments.
    Dude, it’s his face!   How could she not see his face and recognize her aversion to it?   I mean…it boggles my mind!  

  5. 25

    Does anyone ever remember that there is such a thing as counseling? Personally, (just an opinion) I think that this kind of commitment is more than “being in love”. That’s a huge part, but there’s going to be times you don’t feel in love or feel attracted. It’s just part of life and living with other people. Marriage doesn’t seem selfless anymore… It seems like people approach marriage from more and more of a selfish perspective. I’m I delusional or does anyone else see it this way?

  6. 26

    I have a little empathy for Maya. Here is my story. After years of falling madly in love with various men because of intense physical attraction, I met my husband of 22 years. he was not the best looking guy, and had/has some personality quirks I find a little irritating, BUT he was one who fell head over heals in love with me, wanted to be with me, marry me, have a family with me, travel and sing and dance and make music with me. We are best friends. Sexually, he would probably do anything I wanted, to please me, yet I do not feel the overwhelming attraction or desire I had with my past loves. In the beginning of our marriage, it seemed a small price to pay for all the good things we had together. We were in our mid thirties at the time. Maybe I felt the baby time bomb ticking. Maybe I thought I had had my fill and it would not matter. Maybe I ceased to trust in those madly in love feelings as in the past it did not turn out well for me. This man is smart, interesting, a terrific father to our daughter and a great companion in every way for me but sexually. I have come to terms with it and done my best to put myself in the mood, spin fantasies in my head, etc to make him happy. He, on the other hand, feels intense attraction to and satisfaction with me.  

    So I settled, for a great guy, but without this one element. But for my beautiful daughter, I don’t know if I would make the same choice again,  

    1. 26.1

      I married someone I didnt love, 15yrs and 2 daughters later I am still not in love with him. Now he is no longer working trying to get disability, which has been denied, So I am the only one working, he has access to everything. Food card, bank account, car… I feel very depressed at times, because I have wasted 15 yrs of my life, I long to feel that butterfly feeling and that warm fuzzy feeling you feel when your in love. I have basically stayed with him because every time we talk about separating it tears my 11 yr olds heart apart. And with ,y luck once we do divorce, he will get his disability, I kno this sounds like Im money hungry, but Im not I was left with $150,000 when my dad passed away, sold everything to his liking, and basically I am still paying for the mistake I made. I did tell him I didnt love him before we got married, but he said just try it, weve been hurt both so much in the past lets just try to make a happy life for ourselves. I love my girls with all my heart, and basically this is my sacrifice to my kids. I honestly dont ever think I will ever stop thinking about the what ifs, and surely dont want my girls to fall into the same path, which they have seen. Maybe once they both graduate we can divorce, but whos gonna want me when Im 55 ?? I cant even imagine dating and starting all over again, so here I am sad, depressed and so alone. If he paid as much attention to me and my needs as he does the things he wants, and his dum tv, maybe I could fall in love with him.But so far nothing I dont mean to spill my junk out to you, but liked your answer, anyways, God bless and Hugz and TY for reading my lil book.

      1. 26.1.1
        Sally Plummer

        I have been married 16 years with 2 kids
        i have never been attracted to my husband and he has always known it
        i tried to break it off on the beginning
        i had severe depression and low self esteam. So we got married
        so all these years later I miss having passion in my life
        my husband doesn’t know how to be sexual
        i feel like   I am married to a child
        i just wanted to share  
        thanks for listening

      2. 26.1.2

        Try not to be depressed. I do understand the T.V and chair frustration. That frustrates me. its so very sad toe, that ones outlet is that or spending money. i have found in almost every relationship there are issues. attraction in the beginning is important. That does fade as well.

      3. 26.1.3

        Yes Im in the same predicament although different as I am a man to have made the supposed mistake of marrying when I felt like this early on. I have tried to rationalise my actions over 14 years but recently had a mental breakdown over the issue, left my family, then returned and now the dust has settled I feel stuck like before. I’ve had so many theories about why I feel this way, to try to tell myself I really do want this marriage, blamed the fact that I was fostered and thus unconsciously felt I was not entitled to happiness in a family, separation anxiety, depression etc. but what really haunts me is thinking that I was just too fearful to break up. I was idealistic, full of religious guilt (amongst all other guilt types). People will read this and think it’s sad and pathetic, and be glad they don’t have these weaknesses, but I just thought I’d say this isn’t just a problem women have. I’ve longed to find a man that has travelled the same path as me that could offer some wisdom, but haven’t, and feel terribly isolated and in despair, like I’m the only person ever to make this ‘mistake’ if it can be called so. I’ve read self-help books, pressured myself that it’s because of my depression. The thing is, I feel I fell in love with my wife, just like anyone, and actually there was strong attraction and chemistry early on, but I noticed imperfections, and beat myself up about it, I couldn’t accept that I would break up over such an apparently shallow issue, and the idealist in me took over, and round and round it went. I trapped myself because I couldn’t deal with the anger and pain I would cause trying to end the relationship. Anyway, thanks if you read this, just getting it off my chest really..

      4. 26.1.4

        Im sorry. I just got married and 2 1/2 months into it, i find out he has an illness for 12 years. Im angry.

  7. 27

    I have a different take on this.   If you like and are attracted to your husband’s body, that is a big start.   Like everyone else, I am surprised that you didn’t recognize that you weren’t attracted to his face earlier.   What I’m more curious about is if you like the way he smells or if you ever liked the way he smelled at any point in your relationship.
    Here is why:   scent is a huge indicator of sexual compatibility amongst people; if a man smells good to a woman, it usually means that he would provide enough genetic variation so as to ensure a vigorous immune system in their offspring.   If he smells okay or good, one can usually find ways of being attracted to that person because they are chemically “primed” to be attracted to them.   If you have never liked his scent, then it might be time to own up to your mistakes and walk away sooner rather than later.   Here is a very important question:   did you find him attractive at one point and then went on the pill (or other hormonal form of birth control) and no longer find him attractive?   If so, STOP dialing that divorce attorney right now because that might be the answer to your problems.  
    Hormonal forms of birth control (as well as antidepressants) can drastically change your levels of attraction to somebody.   In fact, taking the pill can cause you to be repulsed by men whom you would normally be most attracted to and more attracted to men who are genetically more similar to you (NOT what nature intended).  
    I don’t know if any of this applies to you, but it never hurts to to consider scientific research when questioning your biological drives.
    Good luck to you!

    1. 27.1

      Great point,  sarahrahrah!

  8. 28

    I agree with some of the other people here, who have hit on the possibility that Maya has some ‘conditioning’ issues from her family and was approaching her relationship from a point of view of making the ‘right decision’ and ‘pleasing her family’. by picking a man who had all the credentialls her family felt were there.
    I know that a woman with low confidence, no real sense of self and a conditioned repsonse to please her family, would completely remove herself from a personal relationship and look at it like making a wise house purchase. I feel that this is what Maya has done – for whatever reason (I won’t make assumptions about her background). She saw a house/man that seemed OK, it was much better than the other ones she had come across. Maybe there was not much choice around her in the area, so this particular house/man by comparison seemed the best choice. So intially she felt semi-pleased with her decision – until she moved in. When you move into a house, you made a decision about too quickly, you miss all the important details, taking time and thinking for yourself would have revealed to you. You would have noticed the damp on the kitchen ceiling, the plaster coming off of the hallway and the fact that you really, actually (on closer inspection) hate the colour the house has been painted.
    So, like a rush buyer, who was not using her heart at all and was only using her head (and the opinions of her family) she made a choice that backfired. Once she married him and her heart finally got a shot at communicating to her this was not the right decision – it was too late, and now she knows what she has done.
    This is why it is so important to know who you are and what you want in a love relationship and truly connect with your heart to find out the real answers. Don’t listen to what your family wants, don’t listen to what your friends want, don’t listen to what magazines tell you you SHOULD want and (sorry Evan) don’t even listen to coaches who make you feel guilty if you’re not dating men who you don’t find attractive, by suggesting you are turning your nose up at them because of the mens looks or external attributes.
    Listen to YOU. Because guess what? You have the right to be happy in a relationship, you have the right to make somebody else happy in a relationship and you have right to feel desire and attraction for your partner. So, if you honestly find certain types of men unattractive – its OK! There are so many different men in the world – you can’t like all of them, just as they won’t all like you. That’s what makes the world so perfect – there is someone out there for everyone. So please don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole – find out who you really are and what you genuinely want and listen to your heart, and your heart alone.

  9. 29
    Karl R

    HB said: (#25)
    “Marriage doesn’t seem selfless anymore… It seems like people approach marriage from more and more of a selfish perspective.”

    I would say that people have always approached marriage from a selfish perspective. For a more in depth explanation, you might want to read this article.

    From the article:
    “Most acts that appear selfless actually function to serve the person’s own agenda; feeding their own self-perception, their need for approval, or a sacrifice designed to improve their stature in the eyes of their object of worship (i.e. God).”

    You can’t assume selflessness just because you can’t see an obvious benefit. If you like to think of yourself as being selfless, then doing acts which appear selfless help reinforce your self-perception …  which provides a selfish motive underlying the behavior.

    Twisted, eh?

    HB said: (#25)
    “Does anyone ever remember that there is such a thing as counseling?”

    In other circumstances, I might recommend it. But I don’t see  Maya’s marriage  standing a reasonable chance of lasting, even with counseling.

    Maya has convinced herself that her husband’s facial features make him unattractive. Because of this belief, she has pulled away from her husband (physically and emotionally) to such a degree that it is causing fights on  a regular basis.

    It is possible to overlook someone’s unattractive features by focusing on their good features. It takes a certain amount of mental discipline. Nothing in Maya’s letter suggests that she has that amount of mental discipline. On the contrary, several of her statements suggest the opposite.

    I think Maya ended up married because she followed the path of least resistance. Unfortunately for her, the path of least resistance going forward is a miserable marriage. Getting divorced will be harder. Changing her mindset and fixing her marriage will be harder still.

  10. 30

    Dear God.   I wouldn’t want to be her husband.   If I had a spouse realize belatedly that he a) didn’t love me, b) didn’t find me attractive, and c) led me on all this time, I would be crushed.   For those advising that she hang in there and get counseling, I understand how you feel, but I just don’t think it applies here.   Her letter reeks of trying to find excuses that are acceptable for having done a horrible thing: married someone she didn’t want to marry without the first thought for what that would mean to him.   She doesn’t want to be married to him; she just wants to be justified in divorcing him.   Shame on her.

    1. 30.1

      As I sit and read every ones reaction, tears flow down my face. Im in a similar situation, my husband and been married for two years. We dated on and off for 16yrs, I became pregnant with twins and married soon after I found out I was pregnant. I love my husband dearly that it has put me in a state of depression for the past year because I know im not sexually attractive to him. Just thought of telling and knowing I going to destroy him hurts me.I married him because I know is my ideal husband, ive tried different things to please him sexually I can no longer fake it, I have not had sex since April, he even said to me”I don’t think you like having sex with me” and I cried for days. I love him so much I can’t stomach telling him

  11. 31

    You did the wrong thing Maya. I hope you will own that, and take responsibility for the impact you have on other people’s lives, and not just the impact that events have on you.

    Do the right thing, divorce this man, and if you want to date or marry, remember that you have an obligation to your partner, it is not all about you.

    I feel so sorry for this husband.  

  12. 32

    The fact of the matter is she made a bad choice. She is withholding affection from her husband…simple.
    She had to make a decision. Give him a chance, a real chance or give him the opportunity to find someone who will love him completely.
    It is unfortunate that she makes him suffer because she is embarrassed.   Too bad. Evan said it. Woman up!

  13. 33

    This is why people should really be sure about what they are doing when they decide to get married. This is going to end badly for all parties involved.

  14. 34

    I have not enough information to judge this woman- it takes 2 to tango -however I noticed the compassionate response from JoC and felt very inspired by the clear directions and candid approach she was able to provide without remarking like the White Precious God Almighty Coming From   a Superior World.    JoC speaks from the hearth and no Scholarships in Precious – Princess – in Progress Training for Life Directions can beat that.   Maya was taken for granted since the beginning and never had a real life to begin with.   Think before you judge.   

  15. 35

    I was in a relationship with someone who was very critical and told me they loved me but withdrew love and affection and criticized me when I wore certain clothes, didn’t wear my hair the way they wanted it. It became such an issue that it was almost like an ultimatum, “I don’t know if I can love you or be attracted to you because you don’t dress the way I want and you don’t color your grey hair.” I asked, where does this come from? Their answer was, “This is what my mom did for my dad.” (and they are unhappily married, constant power struggles, miserable, etc). This person was so controlling they would get upset if I didn’t wear makeup and dress up even when we were just laying around the house. I think this is representative of emotional immaturity, controllingness, someone who doesn’t have a clue what unconditional love is and if someone is like this with you, run. It will hurt at first but you don’t need the unrealistic perfectionist who is never happy. They are taking you for granted and will never value you. Rip off the band aid. They are self-absorbed, narcissistic and lack the capacity to love ANYONE.

    1. 35.1

      I totally agree with you. Some people are just not capable to loving themselves let alone someone else!   you’ll find they’re carrying too much baggage and can only drag you down with them. The only way is to get out and count your losses. Before anyone starts talking about counselling, in these cases I’m afraid, it just doesn’t work!

  16. 36

    Let’s be REAL. This wonderful man could get the best plastic surgeon to make his face meet her perfectionistic criteria and you know what would happen? She would immediately find some other reason why she couldn’t be with him. She needs serious help. I wonder what she is using him for, she certainly doesn’t value and appreciate him. He should run for his life.

  17. 37

    I feel sorry for Maya , and I feel defensive on her account. She is brave to own up to this very serious dilemma and brave to post here about it. The thing is we know nothing of her past , her background nor how she got to this point of “blindness” to marry a man then discover it did not turn out well as she is not attracted.
    Ours is not to judge but maybe consider our own blind spots in relationships.
    For myself this reminds how I married at 26 a handsome man I was attracted to and who was a perfect “match” on background/family etc (married after 18 months together ) . In my case the blindness was not seeing that he was cool and unemotional and withdrawn a lot of the time.
    I believed that this lack of intimacy was only a natural stage of growing closer gradually over the years as my culture, religion and family background seemed to suggest would happen. I honestly believed thats how it was supposed to happen.
    Needless to say his coolness became withdrawal and by a couple of years in he would hardly ever have sex with me. I lived in this hell pit for years , raising kids and feeling a failure because I wasnt attractive enough nor warm enough for him to want physical or emotional closeness…
    It was a mistake , and a blindspot that I, an educated, white , Western woman with every potential for happiness just did not understand.Now I am 52 ,divorced many years and a lot wiser .
    Just hoping for another chance 🙂

  18. 38

    I like Gemma’s comment most of all.

    Women just don’t tend to notice physical things that a man would.

    Do you think for one minute if the writer was ugly her husband would have married her?!
    Of course not!

    So don’t think she’s being shallow and unreasonable – she’s just being honest.

  19. 39

    I see this whole thing differently.   I think Maya honestly fell in love with this guy.   She married him, following her heart that was telling her this man was fulfilling her.   

    Many bride-to-be’s go through a time of deep soul searching heading into the marriage.   Suddenly the weight of what they are about to do, in making this man their one-and-only-forever dawns on them, and the feelings take a back seat to constant, intense, mental analysis of the guy they are about to marry.   

    I think maybe for Maya that she didn’t hit this stage as a fiance’.   The reality of her commitment only dawned on her with full weight AFTER marriage.   Maya – this is what I would say to you – you are analyzing your husband meticulously these days because you realize now what a commitment marriage is, and you are afraid you just did the wrong thing.   And so now you are focusing on everything you don’t like about your husband – stuff you were willing to overlook before while you were living from your heart – and now your mind is working overtime on it.   You switched from living out this relationship from your heart, to living it out of your mind – constantly analyzing and assessing your decision to marry him.

    You married him.   You don’t need to figure out anymore whether or not you like his face – you made that face part of yourself and life till death do you part.   You have to find a way to take a deep breath, calm down, and focus back on the things you love about this guy, not on his face.   You’re obsessing over his face, and the more you do, the uglier and uglier he will look to you.   Give yourself a break from thinking about his face…   think about his heart.   Think about his eyes.   Think about anything that you actually LIKE about him…   and let him love you.   And love him back.   

    And yeah, maybe he could grow you some facial hair or something, ask him to do that for you.   He probably will.

    Just take a deep breath and focus on calming down the part of your mind that is working overboard with fear of this marriage.  

  20. 40

    I was in Maya’s situation  a few years  ago. I also didn’t find my ex attractive even before I married him and he knew it. We had awful problems around this but got married anyway for immature reasons. He thought marriage would make things magically better and I just wanted to be married because I was turning 30. I got married because my family loved him too. It was a horrible mistake  that wasted 3 years of our lives.

    I’m dating again and refuse to be in a relationship that I don’t feel right about.  Attraction really does matter and for some of us if it’s not there at some point, it will never grow.

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