There’s a common disbelief that if we commit or marry someone we are supposed to be sexually attracted to them for always. That if we are no longer physically or emotionally attracted to our partner then we are being shallow and selfish. But what happens when we wake up one morning only to realize our partner’s IBS just isn’t doing it for us? Or their mustache they’ve been sporting for the last couple of months is killing the excitement of hopping in bed with them. Or they’ve become boring and sit watching TV every night.
We love our partners for a complex number of reasons. They are the father or mother of our children. They know how to please us in bed. They are very considerate. We have so many shared experiences and lessons and struggles together.
But do they ignite our sexual fire?
Let’s start with the basics.
Why do we lose attraction?
As it pertains to reducing sexual desire levels in general. In long-term relationships we see a natural progression of the relationship and a change in levels of sexual desire. It starts with the lust stage (or desire stage) that is run on testosterone and estrogen. We are fueled by attraction and wanting of sexual connection. Over time, we enter the stage of attraction which is dominated by dopamine and norepinephrine. This is the period of time in which we are ‘falling head over heals’ in love and rewarded by the sight, sounds, smells, thoughts, touch of our partner. We blush or feel our heart start to pound when we are around them. We may even have trouble thinking or doing anything else (have you ever forgotten to eat or sleep because your thoughts were consumed of this person?). Finally enters the attachment stage ruled by vasopressin and oxytocin, both of which are related to connection and bonding between people and less about sexual drive.
As it relates to physical weight gain, could it actually be a symptom of something underlying? Persistent and chronic stress or depression can be a major reason for weight gain. Is your partner able to set healthy boundaries for themselves and engage in activities to help them relieve the straining effects of stress? Or maybe it’s something medical related? Gluten sensitivities, thyroid, leaky gut syndrome, adrenal fatigue (and more) all share symptoms of weight gain or bloating or impacting libido. These may be considerations for health and care. Check out episodes on Eat Play Sex podcast for more info.
Research has also seen a normal phenomenon to gain weight in marriage they called “synchronous eating.” Direct correlation was found between marriage and weight gain, whereas single people were likely to be slimmer.Maybe this is due in part to feeling you don’t have to try anymore? Maybe it’s a result of change in lifestyle the has been co-created by the two of you (vs. your bachelor lifestyle).
How’s the health of your relationship with her/him? Resentment and feelings of contempt or anger or feeling you’ve lost yourself can kill your libido. Check out my article here for tips on how to resolve this.
What’s your adult attachment style? Do you have more of an avoidant attachment style with others? You may unknowingly be creating distance in the form of picking at flaws to create separation. Is this a pattern for you? Might be worth looking inward.
Now does this information mean that you can’t get the spark or attraction back?
Only if you choose to stay quiet and not actively try to do something about it.
And I know this conversation or action feels scary because we don’t want to hurt our partner or cause conflict or start a conversation that we feel can’t be resolved. The thing is, the conversation or action doesn’t have to be such a monster. Here are a few tips to help you get it started:
- Knowing that weight gain can be a symptom of something underlying. Tune into their current mental and emotional health. What’s going on in their work environment? How are they doing with friends and family? How are they managing (or not managing) their stress levels? Have conversations asking how they have been feeling and what ways you could help support them in feeling better.
- Check in with your doctor or nutritionist. There may be something underlying that can be managed from the physical inside that you have had no idea this whole time. (also ask for more panels when getting blood work or thyroid or food sensitivity or celiac or leaky gut checked, these often go undiagnosed due to limited testing)
- Think about your relationship at the beginning. What activities were you doing together then? Try getting out more and engaging in activity outside the home and office. Movement and mental stimulation from novelty outside of routine can be powerful ways to keep from stagnancy and boredom or mental health/health problems from occurring.
- You can share fantasies, read literature or movies together. Just because you aren’t physically attracted to your partner anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t use your brain as a sex organ to turn yourself on and get you going.
- Engage in your own self care. Make sure you are taking actions yourself to feel good. Often times when you start a new healthy lifestyle this can be a model and influence for your loved one(s).
- Energy sex anyone? The practice of tantra can be a powerful and cosmic experience of cycling of energy through breath, sound, and movement. So even if their physical being isn’t arousing, I can tell you the energetic experience can.
- Sex therapy!!! (insert trumpet horns) Or go on a couples retreat specifically geared towards sex and relationship.