There are so many facets and layers to the issue of being attracted or not attracted to your partner. Taken at face value, our culture heaves a collective inhale of shock to hear that someone may not be attracted to their partner. In an image-addicted culture that places physical beauty on a pedestal of epic height, that reveres the “beautiful people” and generates billions of dollars attempting to convince us that we need to remain ageless and flawless (Wrinkles? Here’s Botox; Cellulite? Get to the gym!; Pale skin? Time to hit the tanning salon), it’s no surprise that the first question people ask when you meet someone new is, “Is he/she cute?” Consequently, when someone expresses lack of attraction the immediate solution is to leave.
There are so many problems with our cultural response to lack of attraction. I’ve written about some of them here, but inspired by a session that I recently had with one of my very wise and archetypally plugged in clients who often seems to speak right to the heart of the matter, I’d like to elucidate one of the most basic principles behind not feeling attracted to your partner. This client has been married for two months and the lack of attraction issue was the primary hat onto which she hung her pre-wedding anxiety. We worked together for several months before her wedding, she dove head first into my e-course, and she’s made tremendous strides in her personal growth and healing, including not thinking much about whether or not she was attracted to her husband but just enjoying their sweet and loving connection much of the time. So when the attraction issue reared its head a couple of weeks ago, she felt disappointed and defeated.
“I thought I had dealt with that issue,” she said.
“Well, what I’m about to say may spike you or reassure you. You’re going to deal with this issue periodically for many years to come and here’s why: Lack of attraction is your signal that there’s something off inside of you. If you understand that your partner is a screen onto which you project what’s happening inside of you – both positive and negative – then you’ll see that it has nothing to do with him and everything to do with you. He’s the projection screen so that you can easily see what you’re not attending to. You should actually be thanking him for showing him what’s inside of you! So how have you been feeling lately?”
“Pretty awful. I’ve been irritable with everyone, actually. I haven’t wanted to speak with my friends or go to work. And I’ve been having a hard time adjusting to living together. I liked living alone and now suddenly there’s someone here all the time.”
We discussed how she’s in her first year of marriage and in the thick of the transition of letting go of being single and adjusting to married life. We talked about how she’s on the other side of the three-stage transition process, which means that there’s something new inside of her that is longing to be born.
“It’s a lot easier to focus on what I don’t like about him than it is to birth this new aspect of myself – to connect with my own creativity,” she shared with great honesty and insight. “Just a couple of weeks ago I felt such a sweet magic with him. So I know it can’t be him; it’s me.”
And that’s just it: There are myriad ways that we can avoid ourselves and distract from the painful and scary work of birthing the next stage of our growth. We can spin on the hamster wheel of intrusive thoughts; we can indulge in the fantasy of the Perfect Partner; we can project onto our current partner and convince ourselves that we’re not attracted enough, in love enough, or connected enough. Supported by a culture that fails to understand relationship anxiety and staunchly defends its position that doubt means don’t and lack of attraction is a sign that it’s time to leave, it’s easy to believe that these defense mechanisms are actually indicators that you’re with the “wrong” partner. Yet when the fear-walls fall away and you see the beautiful essence of the person standing before you, the person with whom you share something so special that you can’t walk away, it’s time to turn the projection screen back to face you and find the courage and commitment to turn inside to explore the places that need attention. As often happens, when you connect back in and show up for yourself in loving ways, the fear eyes turn to clear eyes, your perception shifts, and you find the real connection that was waiting there along.
Session excerpts published with permission from my client.