Maybe they gained weight, lost weight, buffed up, slouched down, shaved their head, got a tattoo, went bald, or lost the ability to see or hear.
What do you do?
First of all, good for you if you have figured out and can admit to yourself that you don't find your partner attractive anymore. That's a great starting place. Knowing what it is that is bothering you and being able to give it a name is the beginning of honesty with yourself.
Sometimes, we are actually embarrassed to say what is true for us. Don't be. You are allowed to like what you like, and be upset. The big thing is what you do after you've been honest with yourself.
WHAT DO YOU TELL YOUR PARTNER?
Nothing until you've worked it through yourself!
I recently worked with a couple who were slowly creating greater and greater distance between them. Smiling at each other, and wanting to protect one another, they seemed to think that staying silent and ignoring the rhino in the room were the best strategies.
NO! Silence is productive--and wise--while you figure yourself out. You don't want to blurt out what you think it might be, and find that's not it at all. Once you've done the work to accurately isolate the issue, you need to talk that issue out with someone who can really help. (Note to Self: that's not usually a friend. It's a professional.)
Why is that important? It's because, when there is a big issue that is coming between you and your ability to love, trust, respect, and be honest with your partner, you need to actually work it out with your own values, beliefs and goals in mind BEFORE YOU BLURT! Sometimes, that's a longer journey than you expected. Here's a scenario:
Kim and Nathan got married about eighteen months ago. They both looked spectacular for the wedding: slim, fit, groomed and turned out. No effort or expense or energy expenditure was too much to look great for the big day.
Now, things have slowly changed. There has been job changes for Kim which required moving from that cute apartment in which they started married life. There have been big changes for Nathan as he slowly found how much he liked the "nesting" of married life. It surprised him because previously every party seemed like a good idea. Now he is having thoughts about savings plans, IRAs, 401(K)s, and is watching real estate prices.
Kim has settled into married life full of joy. She was the "nester" before they got married, and now, she wants to go out and do things with friends as a couple. She still enjoys her girlfriend time and cannot understand why Nathan no longer is interested in guy time. With that settling into married life, Kim has skipped the gym, enjoyed food, and is a little chunkier than on that special day.
Two big problems--both losses--have arisen:
Kim feels she has lost that great guy who always wanted to find something to do , and was always ready for a party. He's become so serious.
Nathan feels he has lost the woman who made coming home seem so attractive, AND, truth be told, he's disappointed with the weight Kim has added. It doesn't look or feel good to him.
"I don't find my partner attractive like I used to."
There it is, the naked truth. In eighteen months, things have changed.
Well, folks, that's life, that's relationship, and that's the way it is.
No one who doesn't live permanently in Disneyland can honestly think that anyone they are in relationship with is not going to change! Snow White and Mickey Mouse may always stay the same, but Kim an Nathan? Not so much!
There is a very good reason that I advise couples to at least date for a year, then wait for a year to get married or live together. Unless you're just wanting to live together to save money, or for the companionship and available sex, there are BIG considerations. If you want to create a healthy, emotionally intimate, committed relationship, there is SO much to work through together.
Kim and Nathan did not do it. Instead they had a whirlwind, feel-good courtship, a four month engagement spent entirely on creating the perfect wedding rather than on really getting to know who each other in ways that really matter, and a big-splash wedding and honeymoon. They returned from all that excitement with a big "What now?" question.
The trial and error method of developing relationship that Kim and Nathan used is a very "iffy" system. Yes, it could work...if both partners were mature, healthy, trustworthy, honest and self-reflective. But, usually that method is filled with arguments, cold shoulders, flip-outs, a lot of saying sorry, and a slowly building resentment and alienation.
(Believe me, it doesn't have to be this way. I do not know why people do not understand the value of coaching or consulting before they commit! It's the best way to ensure relationship success. RRRGHGH!!! But, I digress. )
So, Kim and Nathan. Silent resentment building. Relationship dwindling. Life proceeding at the speed of light. And, neither of them finds the other as attractive anymore. A downer, but not the end of the world...or the relationship.
Really? Good. So, what to do? Stay tuned. In the next post, I'll tell all! What to say and do when all you can think is "I don't find my partner attractive like I used to."