I recently worked with a couple who was facing a very confronting issue. They both genuinely loved each other, yet she struggled to feel sexually attracted to him. He felt incredibly hurt and rejected by that. He assumed that:
if you love someone romantically, you should feel physically attracted to them.
She felt deeply confused and conflicted because she knew that her feelings for him were true. More than that, she described the depth of their connection as a “twin flame”, she saw him as her soulmate and hence she struggled to reconcile the feelings in her heart with the reaction of her body.
This situation is incredibly common and I have seen it countless times in my sessions, in one form or another. But it always comes down to this one grand assumption: If you love me, you should feel physically attracted to me.
But is that true?
It will really serve us all to unpack this statement and to look at all the different layers of our eroticism. Because when it comes to human emotions and arousal, things aren’t usually this simple.
1/ Sexual repression and shame
There are many different reasons why romantic love and physical attraction might not go together. And the most common one I encounter as a sex therapist, is sexual repression and shame that had been experienced earlier in life. These two are quite deadly for our sense of eroticism and arousal, and deeply affect our free sexual expression. A man or a woman who had been fed toxic, unhealthy ideas about their body, their pleasure and their genitals, will genuinely struggle to connect with or to activate their physical arousal. And it will have nothing to do with their partner and all to do with their own sense of self as a sexual being.
2/ Past resentment
Another common theme is the under-appreciated connection between past resentment and current arousal. Little hurts and disappointments that we’ve experienced because of our partner can add up and culminate in a subconscious refusal of intimacy with the partner. Also known as: “You want me to have sex with you after what you did???” syndrome. This one can be tricky because it can hide deep in our emotional body, away from the watchful eye of our logical brain. After all, it’s not ok to still feel hurt after all this time. So the body hides the grief, anger or resentment deep in the tissues to keep it away from the brain.
I have heard many clients insist that they don’t harbour resentment towards their beloved, only to be faced with uncomfortable truth upon closer inspection. It can be hard to look deep into your own heart and discover there something that you’re not proud of. But that’s the only way towards improvement.
3/ Too much togetherness
Third case is also quite common – a lot of couples I see have pretty much killed their physical attraction by overload of togetherness. And don’t get me wrong because I fully get it – it feels wonderful to spend plenty of time with the person you’re in love with. And it brings benefits too – deeper sense of closeness, companionship and emotional fulfilment. But the physical attraction will suffer.
You see, our sexual attraction to each other needs some separation, some missing each other and a deep sense of being your own person. Couples who don’t recognize that can love each other very deeply and will still struggle in the bedroom.
Of course, on top of these 3 cases, there are also plenty of other situations, scenarios and possibilities. And there’s nothing unusual, weird or uncommon about them. Almost all couples experience challenges with physical attraction at some point in their relationships. So if you feel like you might need help with untangling the beautifully complex aspects of your intimate connection, seek an experienced practitioner who can help. Overcoming this kind of struggles will work wonders in your relationship!
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