One of the most common questions that I get asked from my clients in relationships is “How do you stay attracted to someone you've been with for years?”
I've interviewed couples who have been married from a few months to 50+ years, and they all agree ” sexual attraction ebbs and flows in every relationship.
Whether it's because of your stress levels, busy schedules, or your partner's parents are in town for the week and it has one or both of you in a bad mood, there are bound to be some roadblocks to your overall arousal levels.
But what if, lifestyle factors aside, it feels like you've been less attracted to your partner lately?
Here are five ways that you can stay attracted to a partner long-term, and shake off the cobwebs.
Staying Attracted Tip #1: Look In The Mirror
A lot of times, the ups and downs of sexual attraction in my clients' relationships speaks to how they currently feel about themselves.
When they are happy and have high self-esteem; their partner is the sexiest person in the world.
When they feel stressed, distracted, or down on themselves, then their partner seems to lose their appeal.
So, while it is easy to project our insecurities and bad moods on what's most readily available (your partner), make sure that you look in the mirror and ask yourself if YOU feel attractive and emotionally fulfilled.
Staying Attracted Tip #2: Give Yourself The Opportunity To Miss Them
We live in a hyper connected world where everyone you love is just a text away. But excessive intimacy causes anxiety. And now, with a higher percentage of the world's population living in mega-cities of millions of people, people are starting to feel the pinch.
If you are constantly around your partner, you won't have the opportunity to miss them. They will start to feel like a burden more than a treat.
When you're with your partner, give them your full attention. But when you're away from them, get on with your life.
Let go of the need to text them every day. Build up your stories so that you have something to talk about when you meet up again in person.
Have your guys' night, or go on weekend getaways, or have an exercise regime that does not include your partner.
Have some sense of independence and autonomy, so that when you meet up again, you've both been given the chance to think “Oh yeah… I really like them. I'm looking forward to seeing them again!”
Staying Attracted Tip #3: Prime Your Brain With Appreciation
People's brains have a funny way of needing to appear consistent with their words, actions, and thoughts.
So if you have been taking your partner for granted and not putting any effort into your relationship, your brain will rationalize “If I'm not putting any effort into this relationship… it must mean that I'm not that into her.”
But the reverse is also true. If you've found your desire waning recently in your relationship, simply by putting in more effort your mind will think “I've been putting so much effort into this relationship lately, I must really love my girlfriend/wife/partner a lot!”
There are two major ways that you can prime your brain with this kind of positive influence.
The first is active appreciation, and the second is to keep dating them.
Just like gratitude journaling, if you prime your mind to look for the positive feedback in your life, you will filter out even more positives. This has a beneficial, cascading effect that alters the way you see your entire life. And you can do this with your relationship.
Instead of thinking “She never puts effort into her looks anymore. She wears sweat pants around me half the time we're at home”… you can reframe that as “I love how comfortable she is around me. She truly lets me see her like no one else gets to.”
Instead of “I hate how she puts me on the spot at social gatherings. She brings up my career and then expects me to carry the weight of the conversation”… you can reframe that as “Wow… she's so proud of me and my accomplishments that she wants to see me shine in the eyes of my peers but goes through the effort of introducing the topic for me so I don't seem like a show off. She clearly cares about me.”
Instead of “That is disgusting. I can't believe she left her nail clippings on the table”… you can reframe that as “I love that even after all this time, they still put in the effort to stay groomed and soft.”
The more you see her actions through the lens of love and assume good intentions, the more you'll see that she is loving you, constantly, in her own way.
On to the second point: continue to date them.
If you date your partner like you did in the first few months of your relationship, a lot of your relationship stress will fall away.
Woo your partner. Surprise them with little gifts. Be romantic. Have distraction-free date nights regularly.
Date them like they're new to you and, because of your brain's propensity to want to seem consistent with your bodies actions, you will fall more in love with them with each gesture.
Staying Attracted Tip #4: Think About Losing Them
Everything in your life will someday end. Everyone you love will die. Every relationship you currently are engaged in will have a final moment.
Now that I've gotten the happy news out of the way…
How would you look at your partner if this was the last time you were going to see them? How would you act differently if you knew you wouldn't see them after this coming weekend? Would you fight more fairly? Would you tell them you loved them more? Would you be kinder, gentler, or more loving towards them?
By keeping yourself aware of the fact that everything in your life has an expiration date, you can show up moment to moment in your relationship as the kind of person that you're striving to be.
Besides, it's a lot easier to think “Oh my god I would shrink down and live in her lower back dimples if I could” compared to “She's getting a little too chubby,” when your mind is aware that everything is temporary. Actively appreciate and focus on everything that you love about your partner. The choice is always yours, and it's a lot easier (and more fun) when you do.
Staying Attracted Tip #5: Funnel All Of Your Sexual Energy Towards Them
Sexual energy is a finite resource for all people.
If you find yourself squandering your sexual energy by looking at porn, lengthily admiring other attractive women in public, or masturbating several times a day and leaving whatever is left over for your partner, then you both lose.
Picture sexual energy like running water through your body and you can funnel it in any direction you want. And the more you funnel it in a certain direction, the steadier it gets in that same direction (just like how river beds deepen over time the more water runs through them).
Consciously channel your sexual energy towards your partner and, coming back to the point I made in section #3, your mind will act consistent with your thoughts and actions.
If you enjoy masturbating and using porn outside of your sexual practice with your partner (nothing wrong with that at all), I recommend masturbating to images/videos of your partner that she either made for you or you made together.
You don't have to be in a long-distance relationship to take advantage of the beauty and wonder of x-rated images of your partner.
Your mind is getting more adept at whatever you are doing in any moment, be it good or bad habits. So, if you can control the outcome, why not prime your arousal response to your partner, as opposed to someone you don't know on your computer screen?
How Do You Stay Attracted To Your Partner Long-Term?
Decide on it.
Love, like happiness, is largely a choice. It's a mental filtering process.
Choose to see your partner in the same light that you saw them in when you first started dating… and filter out the things that would irk you if you chose to ruminate on them.
Look at your partner through rose coloured glasses, not through a magnifying glass.
Dedicated to your success,