Over the years I’ve worked with many men who struggled with the attraction issue. In fact, whereas women tend to focus on a variety of spikes from intelligence to social fluency, when relationship anxiety hits for a man it almost always focuses on some aspect of their partner’s physical appearance (often in addition to other spikes); skin, nose, butt, breasts, and hair are common areas where the projection focuses. And then men almost invariably say the same thing to me: “But isn’t attraction extremely important? After all, men are more visual than women and if I don’t find my partner attractive now, what’s going to happen in five or ten years? How can I move forward with someone I don’t find attractive?”
The “men are more visual than women” is a compelling hook for men. They bring up the biology argument (men are biologically wired to pair with a woman they find attractive). They bring up the sex argument (men can’t get aroused unless they’re wildly attracted to their partner). They try to convince me that my work might apply to women but it doesn’t apply to men. Luckily, I never buy it. Projection is projection and, while I understand that we live in a highly visual culture that conditions men (and women) from an early age to place physical appearance at the top of the partner criteria list, and while I understand that relationship anxiety tends to latch onto our most vulnerable areas, which, for men, is often around linking the physical attractiveness partner with their own self-worth (the more attractive my partner is the more worthy I’ll be seen and deemed in the eyes of others), what I’ve seen over and over again is that when men engage in their inner work and apply the tools that I teach in my courses to their anxiety, they’re able to break through the attraction spike just as effectively as women break through any of their spikes.
The problem with all of the above arguments is that they’re still taking the attraction spike at face value. In other words, as long as you believe that your lack of attraction is only about physical appearance instead of an alarm bell pointing to your own insecurities, faulty beliefs, expectations, and unhealed pain, you’ll bite the hook every time. And what we know about intrusive thoughts is that every time you bite the hook, you feed the fire of the thought, which means that it grows in intensity. The key element of this work for everyone is to look to unhook from taking the thought at face value and instead deeply understand that the thought is a symptom pointing to the need for inner work.
Many of the men I work with (although not all) experienced a period of attraction, even if only for a few dates. I worked with a man years ago who was completely infatuated with his partner for two years, but as soon as he contemplated proposing to her he began to dissect her physical appearance. He struggled for several months and was eventually able to break through. (I wrote about some of his story here and here; they’ve now been married with children for many years).
If you’re a man struggling with the attraction spike – or any other spike – and would like to read about four men’s journeys of breaking free from their relationship anxiety, please enter your information below to receive a free, 26-page document. The men featured in the stories range in age from late 20s to late 40s, and their relationship anxiety hit anywhere from the first date to twenty years into marriage. For anyone struggling with relationship anxiety, these stories are nothing short of extraordinary, inspiring, and love-affirming: