Where do the butterflies go?
June 6, 2014 4:03 PM Subscribe
Core attraction: does it go away? Looking to hear from people who have been in a relationship for 15+ years.
I’m 39 and have been married for over 15 years. It was a semi-arranged marriage; we dated and got to know one another, but there was a lot of pressure from my family to formalize the relationship, so we got engaged within 6 months of meeting.
I had my doubts about whether we were really compatible. I found him to be sweet, funny, caring -- on paper, he checked all the boxes -- but I wasn’t particularly attracted to him. I didn’t find him unattractive (objectively, he’s nice looking) but I didn’t connect with him intellectually, which is what really turns me on. I weighed this against all his other great qualities and decided (sort of decided; see family pressure above) that I could deal with this. Marrying him was definitely a measured decision, not an act of passion or “true love”.
In the beginning, our relationship was happy; we did all the things newly married people do: travel, try new things, have lots of great sex. Though I never developed that physical attraction, I did come to care for him deeply. He’s a wonderful person and I've built a life and family with him. We have two beautiful children together.
However, over the years I have come to realize that base attraction to your partner is indeed a very important thing; what I thought was a small thing has started nagging me and grown into something I can no longer ignore. Though we have regular sex and it works well physically, I am not there emotionally. I feel no chemistry, no attraction, no passion. When we kiss, I feel nothing. It’s like having sex with a very good friend, one who knows how to push your buttons and take you to orgasm, but who nevertheless doesn’t turn you on. This isn’t fair to either of us. He doesn’t seem to notice how truly disconnected I am from the experience; he knows there is a difference between his level of attraction and mine, but he doesn’t realize the extent of it. He is very, very into me. But if he knew how I felt, he’d be extremely hurt.
When I contemplate leaving him, I am held up by this one question: what if I find someone who I AM attracted to in all the right ways; will it eventually end up like my marriage anyway? Everyone says butterflies go away. But because I never had butterflies to begin with, I can’t know how true this is. What does it mean when people say this? What does attraction look like in a very long term relationship?
I’m really struggling with my feelings here; please be kind with your responses.