For the past month or so we’ve been discussing what are the boundaries that partners have when it comes to discussing appearances and habits: do we have the right to say if something about the other isn’t working. And people were sort of all over the place as to what is “good” or “bad” feedback. But in my last post about physical appearance, one or two people simply said that they would tell their partner to change something physical because they simply weren’t physically attracted to them anymore.

hmmm.

What happens if you partner changes and you are no longer attracted to them?

But first, let’s look in the rearview mirror to when your relationship began: were you physically attracted to your partner?  Was the reason you met because you thought they were attractive? Or did they approach you because they thought you were attractive? Be honest with yourself…did looks matter at the onset?

Fast forward how ever many years you are together. Do their looks still make you sigh just a little? Do you still look at them and think that you can’t wait to be alone? I don’t necessarily mean sex, more like,  are you looking forward to just being alone with them and whatever intimacy you have?

Ok- now I am going to sex.  Is it critical for partners to be sexually intimate with one another? Does sex matter in a long term relationship? Is a relationship without sex just a roommate situation? Is a healthy relationship one that embodies both physical, emotional and practical intimacy? Or can you have a relationship without one of the parts?

For this next part, I am going on the assumption that sex is integral to a healthy relationship. What if something about your partner turns you off so much you no longer want to have sex with them? Do you have the right to tell them to change whatever offends you?

Now I bring up a sort of anecdote: I hate back hair.  I mean, detest it. I have stopped dating men when I realized they had back hair because that is a physical turn off for me, yet I would never ask someone to get rid of it. But, what if my back hairless husband developed back hair as he got older? Do I stop having sex because I can’t stand it? Do I ask him to shave it? Do I say nothing and carry on, even though I am repulsed? (seriously- I hate back hair) For the record, my Husband has not turned into Sasquatch…

Where is the line to what is acceptable and reasonable?

With age and relationship tenure, I hope that my partner is still attractive to me, and vice versa, due to the other things that we share.  But is that a fairy tale? I’ve read some alarming statistics as to how often couples in long term relationships have sex, and I started to wonder: is it really just a lack of time/tiredness issue? Or is it something deeper?

And now I open it up to the floor. What do you think? And feel free to chime in on one or many things that I threw out there. As always, your comments and participation made me think and question.  And we know I love to ask the questions with no clear answers…

Discuss

 

48 thoughts on “Let’s Get Physical

  1. Hmmmm- Personally I wouldn’t want him pointing out my flaws…. I mean I am not physically the same young, glowing skin, thin goddess I used to be. I would be deeply hurt if he pointed out or criticized those extra pounds I can’t seem to get rid of, or the lines around my eyes, or the stretch marks around my no longer flat belly… So why would I do that to the person I love? I wouldn’t want them feeling hurt and if they are okay with their back hair, extra pounds etc… then I feel like I should be okay with that too. Unless it is a personality change- like suddenly lying, being angry all the time etc… then I am perfectly capable of saying ‘Yeah…. we need to talk….’ but for physical things? Not so much unless it is medically concerning. I would never ask anyone to change themselves for me. Growing old is an adventure that we chose to do together… come what may…

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  2. WOW! Food for thought!
    OK, so here’s where I am. I absolutely adore my husband! The sight of him makes me all smiley and I love the way he smells in ways I haven’t words to describe. I love being near him!
    That said, he’s put on a bit of weight and is not really doing much to get rid of it.
    And here’s where it gets tricky for me, I want him to lose the weight because I’m concerned about his health. His bp and heart and all that stuff. I’m still trying to lose the weight I gained from all the neurological meds I was on, so I’m in no way fat shaming!
    I worry about his health. I worry that he’ll have a heart attach and die. And then I have no husband to get smell and get all smiley about! I don’t care that he’s pudgy other than it means he may not be in the best of health.
    I think he’s much more aware and concerned about it. He’s less inclined to be sexual with me because of his extra weight. He still makes me all smiley, but he doesn’t feel it. I think he feels unattractive. He’s not.
    We’re physically affectionate, snuggles and kisses, random long hugs in the kitchen. He always pats my bottom as he goes by while I’m brushing my teeth before bed. That kind of stuff. But less sex than our ‘norm’.
    There is ebb and flow to all things, and that certainly applies to long term relationship sexual situations.

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    1. But you keep affection and intimacy alive in other ways (and it’s not a replacement thing) and you’re obviously attracted to each other. But yeah….how much does this aspect affect other people’s relationships? There are ebbs and flows to anything, but what’s the secret formula that makes some persevere? Is it just love?

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      1. Love is love is love is love is love.
        But, I think it comes down to whether or not you actually like each other as humans.
        I am attracted to him, I think he’s beautiful. But the next woman may not, and that’s OK with me. Right now I think he’s not believing he’s beautiful. That’s cool too.
        In our case, ebb, flow, whatever, we laugh so much! Humor is a hallmark of our relationship. I’d be less attracted to him if I didn’t find him amusing.
        Stimulate my brain, you know?
        As for other people’s relationships, well, I honestly have no idea.
        I feel like hope is key. If individuals remain hopeful, maybe couples can be hopeful. Hope is a powerful and positive thing.
        Perhaps perseverance is remaining hopeful during the ebb and flow…?

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  3. Was it Oprah that did a whole thing on sexless marriages? I didn’t watch her regularly (hardly ever) but I read about it and saw bits and pieces of that show I think.

    There are a lot of questions in here…a jumble of thoughts. 🙂 I will have to ponder before answering in detail…

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      1. Probably more than people admit to…I don’t know. The magazines at the checkouts are full of this topic. I wonder what would happen if you google this? lol…and it may or may not have anything to do with feeling attractive, or attracted. To me, this is a separate arm of the topic in question, related, yes, but big enough to warrant its own conversation.

        I’ll check back after you get your million comments, see what people say! 🙂

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  4. This is something I’ve talked about with friends over the years. There is a distinction between normal aging (a few extra pounds, lines around the eyes, balding) and other things that may make someone unattractive. Hygiene. In my opinion, this includes shaving, smelling good, clean clothes (at least sometimes), and trying to look nice. Also, in your case back hair would count because you’ve communicated how strongly you feel about it.
    The question of is a relationship without sex still a relationship? Only if both people are okay with that. A friend told me that was her situation and she was perfectly happy. Turns out her husband wasn’t and they were divorced this summer.

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    1. See? That’s the thing. If both people are totally on board then it’s fine. But it’s the communication break down that’s important here. Would it be better if the guy told his wife his feelings? How would she react? There’s just so many layers to relationships…

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      1. That’s why I asked the original question….what do we have the right to ask of our partners. Should everything be on the table at all times. How do we communicate effectively with one another?

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      2. I don’t think everything should be on the table. As I mentioned before the normal aging process is something we can’t control and I wouldn’t want those things pointed out to me and I wouldn’t complain about them in my partner.

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      3. I totally agree. Except for the aforementioned back hair, personality counts more. But I wonder if men feel the same way. Not to stereotype, but men tend to be more visual, and women more emotional

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  5. My husband and I have been together for 15 years. We met when I was 38. He’s still handsome. In January he had all of his teeth pulled to get dentures. He didn’t get dentures for about four months so his gums could hel properly. He was still handsome to me. I think meeting him later in life has made me realize it’s not so much about outward appearance. It’s more of a heart thing. I knew I would marry him from the first time I met him As far as sex goes. Menopause has stuck a wrench in it. It has made us closer because we talk about it. My moods. My dryness. It hasn’t been easy. I guess outward doesn’t matter to me. He didn’t have hair when I met him. He had a belly. What matters to me is that I can see the love in his eyes for me when we are together. He makes me feel loved special. I look forward to growing old with him and being that old couple who are holding hands and walking two miles an hour.

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    1. I wonder how much of that is because you were a bit older. I think attraction goes deeper than physical looks, but I’m not sure if everyone feels that way. FYI…that’s my dream too….holding hands and walking really slowly through life

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  6. We started dating a bit later in life and I suppose it wasn’t as much a physical attraction for me. He’s older and I appreciated his stability, after all the less-than-stable men I had dated. I’m not crazy about sex (bores me, because I’m not orgasmic), but we have a weekly date because it’s important to him.
    As for telling someone that something is a turnoff, I think it’s important IF it is something they can rectify. He had really bad breath for quite some time, for example.

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  7. I think it’s really a matter of the heart and that our attraction and desire is mostly in our minds. So we tell ourselves whether someone is attractive or not, and we tell ourselves what bothers us about them. That part is within our control. Far too often we’re looking for an external solution to what is an internal problem. Women especially will go from “he never listens to me,”….right over too, “his toenails are revolting and I don’t want to have sex with him anymore.” He can go get a pedicure, but that actually won’t solve the problem, because we’ve misidentified the problem.

    Men tend to believe attraction is mostly physical, but if you look at history the ideal woman that men would find attractive is always changing. At one point in time, many men were not attracted to thin women, they wanted rubenesque. That’s partially because what we find attractive is mostly in our minds, based on culture, expectations, status, what we’ve learned is the “ideal.”

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    1. Very thought provoking comments! And you’re dead on about misidentifying problem….I think people don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of what the root if the issue is. They skirt the issue and never solve the problem. And also, you’re right. So much of what we find attractive is based on what the media influencers put in front of us. Advertising and marketing does work….but not usually in beneficial ways

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  8. The physical attraction between my husband and I was always overpowering. Until, 15 years ago when he snapped. His personality makes his attractiveness repulsive. Others might find his handsome. However, his emotional and verbal abusive ways have ruined the magnetic attraction that I once felt for him.

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  9. I am attracted to people who treat me like I am special and that make me feel like they care, nice people, friendly, emotionally available, people. This may just be friendship or more. When my husband is being a grouchy, controlling d*ck, I am not attracted to him and I will tell him that if he comes looking for s*x. As for attractive looks, I’d rather see a few extra pounds and gray hair than negativity and angry outbursts. I think it goes both ways. Women can be cold bitches and can stop caring about their looks or pleasing their man. Marriage is tough. Divorce is common because one person often stops being willing to put in the work and the other person gets tired of paddling the boat alone.

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  10. In my younger days, I dated some good looking men. My husband has charisma and he is attractive but I think I dated some hot men but maybe I was hot back then too. I guess it is all relative. I was also a size 8 with beautiful blonde hair, blue eyes, and a wide open smile. I still have the blonde hair, blue eyes, I am working on the size as I now size 14, and my smile is not so generous. We have both changed. I met my husband when I was 36 and we married a year and a half later. Out of all my dates, he had the best qualities and the only one I wished I had met sooner as I might have trusted him not to walk out on me if we had a child together. He has a strong value system and a great sense of humor which is more attractive than sexiness at this point.

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  11. Physical attraction, intelligence, kindness and sense of humor were all factors in drawing me to my husband. Let’s face it: when you’re in your early 20s and the hormones are raging, appearance is a major consideration. I still think my husband is cute, though less so when he’s being a jerk.

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