Attraction to New Men vs. Partner
March 22, 2010 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I've been with my boyfriend for three years (living together for half that amount of time). This is my first long-term relationship. Previously, my relationships lasted anywhere from 3-6 months. So I don't have a real point of comparison for anything outside of the endorphine-rush phase.

I feel a great deal of love, affection, and comfort for my boyfriend. I am also attracted to him -- he is handsome, romantically inclined, and a very skilled lover. But I've noticed myself getting hit by little crushes on other men. I'm not worried about attraction to other people -- I am human, after all -- but rather how enlivening it feels. For those of you in healthy long-term relationships, can you relate at all to this? When I make love to the boyfriend, I feel a warmth and gentle heat that is beautiful, but at the same time, a departure from heady passion. Meaning, it takes longer for me to get turned on, while previously -- in the first two years -- just a dirty phrase or touch could do it. I am crazy about this man, but feel guilty that eye contact from a casual aquaitance can somehow provoke an unexpected spark. This is not about wanting an open relationship, or wanting to leave my boyfriend. I would just appreciate hearing other peoples' experiences. Is it natural for me (the woman) to take longer to get excited with a long-term partner? Does attraction with intimacy feel categorically different (ie, more emotional, but not as much of a "rip your clothes off" experience?) Thank you.
posted by Blazing Star to Human Relations (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Does attraction with intimacy feel categorically different (ie, more emotional, but not as much of a "rip your clothes off" experience?)

Yes. Exactly that. It's completely normal. Part of the initial thrill in a relationship is the unknown. As you get to know each other, that dissipates, but it's replaced by intimacy that only comes from knowing someone very well. Most people will tell you that it gets better.

Having said that, you do have to work to keep a relationship good. Taking the other for granted kills a lot of relationships.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:20 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Those extra sparks are simply biology. Normal. We all get that.

I wouldn't trade it for the true intimacy I have with my husband.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:29 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

i think there is a natural leveling off and i think those sparks are totally normal.

i also think part of the work of a long term relationship is prioritizing intimacy. i don't mean just sex. in the early days of the relationship when things are still very new you are always stealing touches, stealing kisses, trying to slide closer, trying to see more - the longer you're together the more comfortable you get and the less you do those things. it took me a long time to figure out, but you have to make those things important.

with the husband, about a year ago we noticed we weren't kissing as often. so we made a rule. every single night, the last thing we do is kiss. sometimes we make out, sometimes it is a simple peck. but it's increased kissing in our entire relationship. also on the kissing line, i bought mistletoe last christmas. now there was a place in our apartment that was designated for kissing! i put it right between the living room and kitchen so we were there multiple times a day. it got to where one of us would just go stand under it and wait for the other to see. we're not ones for holiday celebrations, but i can't wait for december so i can get another sprig of mistletoe.

and it's not just kissing - if he notices we've scooted away on the couch he'll reach out for me, i lean over in the middle of watching tv to nuzzle his neck, lots of butt swats and chest/boob grabbing. we keep it playful, we keep it fun, and we actively work to not let walls build up. we're both naturally introverted when we're stressed and so if we didn't make these things a priority, they would just fall by the wayside. if it's important to you, make the effort and i think you'll find that clothes ripping off passion coming back.
posted by nadawi at 2:41 PM on March 22, 2010 [6 favorites]

The chemistry of new romance was meant to be addicting and it fades for a reason. I've been with my husband for 8 years and even though we don't have the blinding passionate relationship that we had when we first met, we have a really deep intimacy that comes from really knowing and appreciating another person.

That said, there are things you can do to spark up the relationship and it's a good idea to do that every once in a while. Take trips together, watch porn together (or whatever is titillating to you guys), talk about things that make you both happy. It's also important to really spend time on what makes you passionate as an individual--not sexually, but in terms of something you are excited about doing as a hobby or career. If you both feel fulfilled outside of the relationship, it's easier to feel fulfilled and excited about the relationship itself.
posted by Kimberly at 2:47 PM on March 22, 2010

Best answer: For those of you in healthy long-term relationships, can you relate at all to this?
Three years with my current bf, and yes, I can relate to this.

Is it natural for me (the woman) to take longer to get excited with a long-term partner?

In my opinion, yes.

Does attraction with intimacy feel categorically different (ie, more emotional, but not as much of a "rip your clothes off" experience?)
Yes. The "rip your clothes off" experience still happens sometimes, but it's not the status quo.

I get crushes all the time. Seeing a crush with more skin exposed than usual makes my heart do that flippy-racey thing in a way that seeing my partner undress generally does not. However, I recognize my crushes for what they are. Fun, no commitment emotional diversions. I enjoy having crushes and I enjoy talking about them with my boyfriend (and he tells me about his).

I do miss the "New Relationship Energy" from when my boyfriend and I first got together, but I am in love with what we have now. It's different and generally not terribly exciting, but it's satisfying and comforting and right. And the excitement can and does come back occasionally. I wish I had the link, but a few months ago I read something about how one common thing about couples who stay together is that they're constantly doing new things together. You don't have to change partners to get back some of that "shiny new relationship!" feeling.

But don't feel guilty about your attractions. I don't think you need to be polyamorous to embrace the idea that it's okay to be attracted to other people without jeopardizing your current relationship. And you know, sometimes, after hanging out with a crush or going out dancing with friends, it just makes me want to go be with my boyfriend even more. It's like... eating a kit kat and remembering that omg, I have handmade truffles at home! I want truffles! Maybe not the best analogy, but I think you can catch my meaning.
posted by quirks at 3:46 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

You may find this article from a few years ago interesting.
posted by missmagenta at 5:01 AM on March 23, 2010

I will never forget the first time I had that spark when I was in a relationship. I worked at Burger King with my girlfriend. We had been going out for two years.

Suddenly there was this new woman. We joked a lot and she would touch me and stuff. She looked a lot like my girlfriend.

I was in a panic. I thought I had to now get with her, even though she had a husband. I was really freaked out. I couldn't find a way out of this.

Then an older friend pointed out the fact that just because I had feelings of attraction for someone didn't mean I had to act on them. It was like I was hit by a freight train. I had never thought of that.

So let the crushes go. The key is not to engage them either way. That means don't supress them, but also don't luxuriate in them, especially when there are problems in your life which you want distractions from.

And if you want the passion back a bit, chew on this--while you are having these mini-crushes on other men, your boyfriend is having mini-crushes on other women.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:48 AM on March 23, 2010

Also, you need to exploit sexually the plusses of the long-term. You can basically tell him exactly what you want in bed. Exactly. "I like it when you lick the back of my left knee. Left knee only, I hate it on the right." And he can give it to you.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:52 AM on March 23, 2010

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