In the early days of your romantic relationship, you may have felt magnetically drawn to your partner. The talks were exciting, the sex was passionate, and you just couldn’t keep your hands off each other. But in long-term relationships, it’s not uncommon for the initial attraction between partners to fizzle out. We take for granted that just because we were madly attracted to our partner once, the same attraction will stay forever without effort.
But the truth is, long-term relationships need work. And to maintain attraction, you need to invest some time and effort. But before you try ways to ignite the passion again, it’s especially helpful to know why the attraction was lost in the first place. In long-term relationships, this can happen due to any number of reasons but the most common causes are the following.
You’ve Grown Bored with Each Other
To sustain a healthy long-term relationship, stability and security are important. However, getting too comfortable with each other can make the partnership feel predictable and stale. As human beings, we are wired to like and crave novelty. The feeling of too much familiarity with a partner might negatively impact our attraction towards them.
You Have Unresolved Resentment
Unresolved conflicts — whether they’re about finances, infidelity, sex, parenting decisions, family drama or household responsibilities, can breed resentment. And this resentment causes you to feel distant from or angry at your partner, which ultimately translates to decreased attraction. For that reason, it’s important that every conflict is worked through in a fair, respectful manner.
You Stop Treating Each Other Like Romantic Partners
It’s all too easy for busy couples to slip into taskmaster mode and stay there, rarely stopping to nurture the romantic side of the relationship. Instead of sharing a kiss and catching up after the workday, they’re focused on completing the household to-do list: make dinner, do homework with the kids, take the dog for a walk, clean the kitchen, get ready for bed, whatever. Wash, rinse, repeat.
And this can unconsciously cause people to become stuck in their specific daily roles — like parent, boss, caregiver, etc. — and consequently, communicate with their partners with the same demeanor. Long term, this can change our image in our partner’s eyes and reduce attraction.
You Don’t Take Care of Yourselves in the Way You Used To
When a couple has a lot on their plates (and who doesn’t?) making time for self-care can be a challenge. But neglecting to put an effort into looking and feeling good can not only affect how your partner perceives you, but also how you feel about yourself.
Plus, taking care of ourselves isn’t just about looks, either: It’s about being healthy, feeling confident, improving our mood and having the energy to go out and enjoy life. Many may see it as being vain, but we owe it to ourselves and our partners to be at our best, which includes eating healthy, getting rest, exercising and working on our mental health.
So, now that you’re aware of the situations and habits that can lead to a loss of attraction, the question on everyone’s mind is what can be done about it. Here are some suggestions.
Consider That the Shift May Have Little to Do with Your Partner
Before pointing fingers, think about any role you may have played in the loss of attraction. Perhaps there’s something you don’t like about yourself that you’re transferring onto your partner. Or maybe you’re not making the same effort you did earlier in the relationship, which in turn, affects your partner’s behavior.
For example, if you used to be more kind and patient with your partner, and you are now more impatient and short with them, this can likely affect how they treat you. It can result in them acting less romantic or not caring as much about impressing you.
Prioritize Couple Time, Even When You’re Busy
When was the last time you got dressed up and went out to eat, attended a concert, saw a movie or went hiking? If you haven’t done something fun together in the past couple of weeks, it’s no wonder the spark has gone. Quality couple time is an important part of the relationship. Make sure there are date nights. But even setting aside some private time at home for holding hands, cuddling or having deep conversations can do wonders. Take a moment every day to reconnect with each other without any distractions. Be present for one another. Be thoughtful.
Try New Things Together
Research shows that relationships often benefit when partners are engaged in an activity where they can see each other in a completely different light. This can be anything – from starting a new hobby together, travelling to new places or introducing some novelty in the bedroom. The new context might help rekindle the attraction and see each other more than just a roommate or parent.
Confront the Problem Directly
Sometimes, talking with your partner can help you figure out what caused the loss of attraction and what can be done about it. But if you decide to tell your partner that you’re no longer attracted to them, do so with sensitivity. First, decide if disclosing this information can actually lead to meaningful change. If so, be sure to approach it gently and tactfully, not in an accusing or critical way. Because these conversations can be emotionally charged, focus on communicating the changes you’ve observed in the relationship and make it clear that your goal is to reignite that spark.
Make an Appointment with a Couples Counselor Sooner Rather Than Later
Enlisting the help of a trained therapist may be helpful, given the delicate nature of these conversations. And you don’t need to wait until you’re on the brink of a split to start counseling, the earlier, the better.
How To Know If Your Attraction Can Be Rekindled
In most cases, it is possible to bring back the feelings of attraction in the relationship. But it requires a commitment from both partners, honesty and a willingness to work on any underlying issues before it’s too late.
Another important factor: Was there even a mutual attraction between you to begin with? If not, it’s often more difficult to develop those feelings down the road. Some relationships lack attraction from the beginning as they began to meet a need such as security, attachment or loneliness. And once these needs are met, a person may feel no desire or connection for that person.
There is a huge difference between a normal decrease in passionate attraction and a feeling of disgust or complete aversion to your partner. While some fluctuation in your levels of attraction is normal, a sudden, drastic shift can be more concerning. This can signal that something is very off in the relationship as a whole.
If you’ve felt unattracted to your partner for quite a while, in spite of efforts to reignite the spark, there is always the chance the relationship has simply run its course. People are constantly growing and evolving in a relationship. Sometimes it happens that they grow apart or what you are attracted to changes over time. It’s important to talk to someone about these changes so you can make an informed decision about the relationship.