Is there an expiration date on physical attraction? Say you’re in a loving, committed relationship and one day you wake up and, poof, the physical attraction you felt for your partner, that “clean up on aisle three!” good good, has all but vanished into thin air. Granted, looks change and our bodies age over time as God intended them to (not that aging makes you less physically attractive), but what if you and your beloved have only been in this forever thing for a hot second? I mean, come on. Where is the love?
Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Cynthia Bailey, who has been married to husband Peter Thomas for five years, recently admitted that she is no longer attracted to him…when his clothes are off. But the attraction still runs deep when it comes to his non-physical bits, like his brain and what not. How does that work, exactly? More importantly, can you sustain a long-term relationship if you’re not physically attracted to your partner?
I get that attraction, in all of its forms, is a very complicated thing. There are clearly levels and layers and tunnels and whatever the heck else to it. I also know that if a dude eff’s around on you, he can start to look ugly real quick. And Thomas was allegedly caught on camera caressing on another woman. So maybe all of this is Bailey’s way of trying to get back at him publicly? Or maybe it’s a ploy for ratings? Who knows.
But for me, a lack of physical attraction, even if I’m attracted to a man intellectually, spiritually, etc., makes for a precarious situation. There is legitimately a problem if I no longer want to see you naked. Because sex, which is a crucial part of a romantic relationship, then becomes a chore. A thing I’m doing for him to make him happy, as opposed to a joyous, fulfilling, intimate expression of our mutual love and affection; something we can and should both enjoy. So if I don’t want to see you naked because the sight of you does nothing for me, what do I do when it’s time to turn the lights down low? Put a paper bag over dude’s head? Blindfold myself so I don’t have to see any parts of his nakedness? (And does the nakedness include his face or just the rest of his body?) What if we stop having sex altogether? A sex-less relationship can cause all sorts of problems.
Now, say you’re on the receiving end of this. Your partner tells you, “I’m no longer physically attracted to you.” Their reasons? You put on too much weight, or you lost too much weight. You’re this, that and the other. But, hey, they’re still in this, so they want to keep on going like nothing happened. If you love this person deeply, would you do everything in your power to get back in his good graces, so to speak? To render yourself more physically attractive, whatever that entails? (And what about his behind? He’s probably no perfect 10 himself.) But if the heat gets turned up and suddenly there’s an ultimatum – do this or else I’m leaving – do you try to work it out because you’ve committed yourself to him? Because of the children? Because you’re afraid to go back out there and start over? Because you’re fraid of being alone? Moreover, what’s to keep you from finding someone who does find you attractive, physically and every other kind of way you want and deserve to be loved? Though the saying is cliché, there are definitely other fish in the sea.
It’s hard to say how I would really feel or react if faced with this situation. Maybe if everything else in the relationship is rock solid, an attraction-less marriage is feasible. But ideal? Hardly. At least not for me. And who wants to settle for feasible? I’m not saying that physical attraction is everything in a relationship or that it weighs more heavily than other forms of attraction. I’m just intrigued by the fact that Bailey has made this claim about her husband only five years into her marriage. Perhaps some couples who have been together long enough are in another realm where physical attraction is no longer relevant. There’s respect, there’s admiration, there’s deep understanding and love. Therefore, the physical doesn’t enter into that equation–or is a very tiny fraction of it. And if that’s what Cynthia Bailey and Peter Thomas have, more power to ‘em.