Not always attracted to Fiance. May break up, need some advice!
June 20, 2013 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Not always attracted to Fiance. May break up, need some advice!

So to start off this has not been a typical relationship. We started off long distance (online) and really clicked mentally. We conversed for almsot a year before actually meeting one another.

We decided to give it ago, I was really afraid that I would not have any attraction to her (she looked good in pictures, but still they were only pictures). But when we met up we hit it off and I was incredibly fond of her, and attracted. At that point I knew she was the one for me and thus we planned to get engaged.

Its been a year since our engagement and I had the chance to live in the same country as her for 3 months...were pretty old traditional when it comes to living together, our culture prevents us from doing that, but nonetheless we learned a lot about each-other.

Im now back home with the plan that we would get wed by june next year, but I have an uneasy feeling about the relationship. Prior to her I hadnt been in a relationship / date for almost 4 years and at that part of my life I was sleeping around with random girls and in 3 failed relationships. I made an effort to quit the unhealthy lifestyle in pursuit of something more meaningful.

So here I am now. My attraction to her comes and goes, there are days where I find her extremely attractive and im happy, and there are days where I find her repulsive and im depressed. Shes absolutely loving, caring, beautiful (sometimes), and intelligent. But there are some things here and there that irritate me and I cant seem to shake them off. Sometimes Im envious as well from other men with gorgeous women by there side (this is completely shallow I know) and a part of me tells me I can do better. But on the other hand I know looks fade. My father went for my Mother who at the time was a bomb-shell, she still is pretty but she can be an absolute nightmare to be with sometimes, and i dont think he ever has a good conversation with her. The reason I havent broken it off yet with this girl is because im holding on to something I feel may be different. I feel as though she may be the best thing for me if I just give it a chance and try to overlook the attraction part.

Im not sure if im love with this girl, and im wondering if its possible to one day be in love with her. Do you guys feel like this is something I can live with for the rest of my life? Is there anything I can do?
posted by red47Apple to Society & Culture (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea if you love her or not.

I will say this, though: Second thoughts and cold feet aren't necessarily a bad sign. If you go in with no reservations whatsoever, you're probably not taking marriage seriously enough. Do you think you can "do better" than her and you're just settling? Do you think you can live with her for the rest of your life considering any flaws she has? The answers to this questions aren't conclusive, but these are things you need to think through.
posted by Doohickie at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2013

So are you just sometimes not attracted to her? Or are you not sure you love her? These are VERY different issues. If it's the latter, absolutely do not marry her.
posted by greta simone at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I think varying levels of attraction in a relationship is normal, but the repulsion you describe is extreme. We often fixate on others' physical flaws as an extension of our discomfort in other areas of the relationship, or as a means of keeping intimacy away. It sounds like your parent's relationship was kind of volatile or at least your mother was, so maybe part of you is chasing this excitement and so when someone kind and loving and regular-looking meets your needs, you find it dull and unsatisfying, and so fixate on her looks as an excuse. Just some ideas.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:43 PM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]

It's a long distance relationship. It's always been a long distance relationship, except for a very short period of time somewhere in the middle of things. (And it sounds like you're back to long distance now?) You've been engaged for a year, and yet it doesn't seem like you have set in stone wedding plans. You're engaged despite not being in love with her or even being sure that you could be, or for that matter even feeling confident that you're attracted to her.

This isn't just a red flag. This is a whole semaphore system of red flags.


Do not marry this person.

Or, at the very least, call off the engagement until you can permanently live in the same country and see if you like each other enough to get married.

It doesn't sound like you're in a "let's get married" place in the relationship at all, but more of a "second date" place. I'm not sure if this is because it's a non-relationship that is happening long distance under conservative social rules that make it easy to pretend, or if it's because you just haven't had the time to let a relationship develop properly. But something is very, very broken and the first order of business needs to be DON'T GET MARRIED, like, seriously don't.
posted by Sara C. at 12:44 PM on June 20, 2013 [27 favorites]

Second thoughts and cold feet are totally normal. Finding her "extremely attractive" one day and "repulsive" the next is not. I think your extremes are signalling "Slow down."
posted by thinkpiece at 12:46 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Your poor fiancee.

I think you should talk to a professional and sort out your feelings. Because what you wrote comes off as pretty damn superficial, immature and unforgiving.

One of the many things I learned from AskMe is to put yourself in the other person's shoes.

So think upon that. Think about how incredibly unfair what you've written is to your fiancee. She deserves to be loved deeply and unconditionally, and you cannot offer her that now. Perhaps never.

Talk to someone, sort out why you're planning to marry who sometimes repulses you, and make a considered decision then.

But in the meanwhile, please call off the engagement and give her the option to completely end the relationship because boy oh boy, remaining engaged to someone who repulses you is really kind of terrible to do.
posted by kinetic at 12:47 PM on June 20, 2013 [30 favorites]

One other thing - since there are days when you find her beautiful, this means she is indeed attractive to you. On the days when you find her ugly, check your own mind and examine whether you are angry or frustrated (at her or at something else) and turning it into criticism of her. So your love/hatred of her is a reflection of what's going on inside you.

You don't have to marry her but you might want to get a handle on this pattern, since I will bet that it will come up again once you dump this girl and find someone else.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:47 PM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

If you are frequently finding yourself repulsed by someone, you should not marry them.
posted by something something at 12:48 PM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

Hard to say. You don't really ever know someone. I did all my due dilligence before I married and I'm still discovering things about Husbunny even after 11 years of marriage.

I will say that my feelings haven't waivered. I knew pretty much that we'd be together and we are. We're very happy and our friends sometimes gag a bit because we can be schmoopy at times.

Sometimes you do get annoyed with your partner, and at that point you may not want to have sex, but you don't stop loving him/her because of it.

As for doing better, better how? Better looking? It's possible. Smarter, better educated, perhaps. But a better fit for you? That's the important thing.

I think real love is about finding someone that you feel very comfortable with, someone you trust with your future, it's about forging a partnership.

If you are from a culture that values women for looks and status, then you may always be dissatisfied because there's always someone more beautiful or more connected or of a higher class. That's just life.

If you value a woman as a partner and as the mother of your children, I think you'd approach your decision differently. Is this woman, who loves you, and whom you have loved and sometimes love now, a good partner? Will she work with you to build a future you're excited about? Is this a person who will love your children and rear them with you?

When you view this as building a family and not as an opportunity to mate with the prettiest person, does that alter your perspective?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]

End the relationship... for her sake.
posted by matty at 12:50 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Do you guys feel like this is something I can live with for the rest of my life?

A lot of people *do* live with it, I think, but they probably didn't start out that way. It seems like a bad place to start out.

I'm a woman and all I can think is that I would never, never want to marry or even casually date a guy who sometimes found me repulsive. I mean that really makes me feel awful for your fiancée. It's one thing for a man to know his wife is objectively not, like, the hottest woman on the planet, but to think - even sometimes - that she's disgusting? That's something else.

If you even know her well enough yet, seriously consider whether she would feel this way too. Is she totally in love with you and expecting the same from you (or whoever she marries)? Or is she looking at this in a more practical sense like you're from the same background, have the same goals, etc., and romance is not important? (Because you mentioned a traditional culture, I think that may be a possibility. But perhaps it's not.) either way if she would be devastated to hear that you are sometimes physically repulsed by her, please don't marry her. Break up and let her find someone else, or be happy alone without worrying about whether her looks measure up to someone's fantasy. At the very least, plan to date longer and see what happens and don't get married any time soon.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:58 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you don't actually know whether or not you even love her, at the bare minimum you MUST call off the wedding.
posted by scody at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok so repulsive was probably a strong word, what I mean to say is that I just dont find her attractive on some days.
posted by red47Apple at 1:06 PM on June 20, 2013

I think you need to watch Dan Savage's Price of Admission and think what is and what isn't a dealbreaker for you.

then this: there are days where I find her extremely attractive and im happy, and there are days where I find her repulsive and im depressed.

Do you think the happy/depressed part comes first or how you feel about her comes first? Also, do you think it hinges on how much attention or what kind of attention she's given you that day? Like if she's paying you a lot of attention and you feel like the conversation is going smoothly then are those the days when you are attracted to her? Then on another day when she might be distracted or just not into talking (I assume you guys chat online a lot, maybe this is wrong), are those the days you don't feel attracted to her? If so, these might be signs of codependency and it would be helpful to talk it out with a therapist.

best of luck to you both
posted by dawkins_7 at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

You shouldn't be getting married. You might have some heartbreaking conversations when you tell her, and you might break up in the end, and you might feel awful, but it's still going to be better than marrying her and hoping that one day you'll stop finding her unattractive. That's cruel.

Are you sure you even want to be married right now? If you met someone who lived close to you, would you still be dating them or would you be pursuing marriage too? Maybe you're rushing this because it's long-distance, there are visas involved, lots of bureaucracy to see each other, etc. It's okay to slow down. Keep dating, keep seeing each other as often as time/money permits, and if you still feel this way in a few months then... Really time to tell her that this isn't working out. But do call off the wedding, don't string her along into thinking you're ready to make that big of a commitment.

I don't know what to tell you about being envious of men with gorgeous partners, except that everyone has flaws and everyone can also be beautiful. Look at all the people who say things like "When I started dating my husband/wife they were SO not my type!" A person's appearance is only a part of the package, the most fragile and short-lived part at that. You can be totally in love with someone enough that their appearance stops mattering.

But the key is to not rush into an engagement and a wedding before that happens, and counting on it happening. Get married when you have no doubts about your partner as a whole person.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 1:13 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

You should consider ending the relationship. I'd ask myself what the other person would do if they knew how I really felt. Why should she unknowingly settle for someone who is not crazy about her all of the time? For that matter, why should you? (Repulsive is a "strong" word, but, "I just don't find her attractive" is just as strong, imo).
posted by marimeko at 1:17 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you should marry someone that you are solidly attracted to (but of course the person must be more than just someone you are physically attracted to). The reason is because it is said that as a general rule men need to have physical intimacy to feel emotional intimacy. If you are not physically attracted to her, you presumably will not have as much physical intimacy, and that will affect your sense of emotional intimacy. And she will feel the lack of emotional intimacy and won't want to have physical intimacy with you. That sounds like a bad dynamic that will work against creating a passionate, loving, deeply emotional marriage.
posted by Dansaman at 1:23 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

No, no no no no, don't marry her. Call off the engagement. You want to see other people, so go ahead and see them. Let her know that things are moving too fast to make a marriage out of your long distance relationship.

Why would you even consider making a commitment of lifetime monogamy, and building a household and a family and an economic unit built on that promise, to a woman you sometimes find repulsive? That way does not lie happiness for anyone.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:39 PM on June 20, 2013

Your follow-up comment is important and changes the tone a whole lot. I think it's normal not to always be attracted to the person you love - that may have to do with your own libido and whatever problems you might be having aside from your relationship which are affecting your self-confidence and general satisfaction with your lot in life on any given day.

However, I will second Ruthless Bunny's nuanced comment about considering the cultural element, and the 'purpose' of a wife in your culture. I think it might be worthwhile to have an honest man-to-man talk with your father about this issue, or if not with your father, another man in a similar position. Perhaps you'll need to keep it more general so that you don't have to reveal your own doubts or make him feel like you think he failed in his choice of wife on some level.
posted by Dragonness at 1:50 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

If she called you right now and called off the wedding herself, would you be devastated? Would you be relieved? That might help sort things out for you.
posted by the jam at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you have to choose to marry for either looks or personality, pick personality. Your father might be a good example. But, wouldn't it be nice to get both?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:14 PM on June 20, 2013

To me it sounds like you are not in a place where you can marry her. It also sounds like you are not capable of a functioning relationship either right now. You are unsure if you love her and you do not state that you even want to marry her. You are not in this relationship. You are on the outside looking in.

This is not a criticism of you. It sounds like you need to work on your mental health before you are in a place where you should marry someone. It isn't about you and what is good for you. This is about the two of you and you don't seem very invested in her happiness.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:23 PM on June 20, 2013

Response by poster: I think if she called the wedding off a part of me would be relieved and another part of me would feel regret that maybe I made the biggest mistake.

Ive also noticed that we get along very well and almost never fight. When we do fight we are very patient with eachother, more so on her end...I can be very stubborn sometimes, I doubt I could find another thats as patient as her.
posted by red47Apple at 2:24 PM on June 20, 2013

The reason you shouldn't marry her is that you are not mature enough. You do not have enough relationship experience, and that is why you don't know what you yourself want. This may be the best thing ever possible for you, but you are not mature enough to recognize it. Or it could be a lukewarm empty relationship driven by a desire for safety, but you are not mature enough to know that. It is very hard to make decisions like this when you have no (or not enough) points of comparison to tell you whether this is a relationship you want or that is good for you. What you have is a relationship you're ambivalent about, because you don't know yourself very well yet.

You don't really have plans to marry. It's just an idea at this point. So remove the idea. Call of any thought of marrying. Take that pressure off immediately. Let her know you need to put that plan on "pause."

And then, decide if you want to continue dating this person. If you don't feel you can muster the enthusiasm, or that you're still going to plague yourself with constant second-guessing, then do her a favor and let her go live her life with someone who appreciates her.
posted by Miko at 2:34 PM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

I think that if you were capable of falling in love with this woman, you would have fallen for her by now. Could you grow to love her over time? Sure; lots of folks in arranged marriages love each other. But it will be more of a platonic / familial love rather than romantic / passionate.
posted by Asparagus at 2:53 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

... there are days where I find her repulsive and im depressed.

If you said "...there are days where I'm indifferent" then I might not have answered, but since you're saying this: stop. Postpone or call off the wedding. You both deserve to be with people you want to be with. "Replusive" and "depressed" are not words that represent feelings compatible with a long-term relationship.

In my mind, not even a platonic one. "Repulsive" isn't just a lack of attraction, it's actually the opposite of it, and that's a very serious issue.
posted by davejay at 3:00 PM on June 20, 2013

For what it's worth, I would be very careful with your feelings along the lines of "this person is very kind and patient, we get along well, we don't argue."

That's not what you build a marriage on. That's a baseline default way of relating to human beings with whom you share the planet earth. Patience is what I look for in an airplane seatmate, not a spouse.

We can talk about "the price of admission" and needing to be OK with the fact that your partner will have flaws. But bottom line, you have to feel good about someone you marry. Someone you feel only OK about, or don't dislike, or aren't repulsed by isn't enough.
posted by Sara C. at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

Ah, just read the followup. It's okay to not find her attractive. But you should love her anyway. By that, I mean even on days you don't find her attractive, you should still want to be with her.

I'd say you should let her know that you made a mistake, you're not ready to get married just yet, and you'd like to postpone the date until you've been together for a longer time. She may leave you, but hey, that's the risk you take to avoid being married to someone you don't actually want to be married to at this point.
posted by davejay at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not always attracted? Wondering what the hell you got yourself into? Welcome to marriage. It's not always great. If you can't make it through courtship, do both of you a favor and call it off. I don't say that to judge you in any way... it is what it is. Marriage - where you will have to go to bed with that person who has irritated you to no end, can be much worse than what you are experiencing.
posted by brownrd at 3:27 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ive also noticed that we get along very well and almost never fight

This is a great beginning, you know. Even more important would be to ask yourself if you two, together, amount to a sum of more than two, in terms of life quality. That's the touchstone. If a relationship bogs you down so much that you feel like you are spending more energy than if you were alone, that's a bad sign. If it feels like you get back so much that it feels like you're spending less energy - and your partner feels the same - that's good.

"Attraction" varies, as hormone cycles vary, or moods, levels of soberness and frustration or stress.
posted by Namlit at 3:34 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: One of the greatest things Namlit that I had a problem for awhile was the fact that I felt as though I was getting bored with the relationship...I realized I was actually content. Most of my upbringing has been in an extremely noisy chaotic environment (think greek + egyptian).

She never gives me a hard time with anything, she's really laid back and I feel peaceful when im with her.
posted by red47Apple at 3:47 PM on June 20, 2013

I sort of guessed that you might try to back away from the strong word 'repulsive', but I think you shouldn't. You chose the word, it's a feeling you feel sometimes, and it's telling you something. Marrying her will not make you feel that feeling less often.
posted by tomboko at 3:49 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Regardless of how good she is for you, you don't sound very good for her. Please don't marry her until you've done some growing up.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:10 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Ive also noticed that we get along very well and almost never fight.

You've also only lived near one another for a three month period, assuming you were near one another when you were in the same country. You can't judge your compatibility when the in-person phase of your relationship has been that short. Long-distance and in-person are whole different animals. Even when you're not living together you can't underestimate the effect on a relationship of regularly seeing another person, regularly going over to each other's places, regularly juggling spending time with them with the rest of your life's responsibilities. Those things tell you a lot about how another person lives and how they expect a relationship to function, and you can't get a bead on them when you're long-distance and essentially 100% independent from one another. And it takes more than three months to develop this feel. Do you think three months is enough to decide something that will presumably last the rest of your life?

The moodiness you're feeling is likely a reflection of a real, valid insecurity about the state of your relationship. Sure, some of it could be because you're used to things being chaotic and exciting and you aren't attracted to stability, but it would be remiss to not consider that you're essentially planning on marrying one another without having spent any time together at all.
posted by schroedinger at 6:20 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

For the love of god, do not doom this poor woman to a relationship with someone who finds her repulsive. That's almost unfathomably cruel, and neither of you deserve to live your lives out in that kind of misery. The kindest thing to do is to let her go, and let her find someone who values her worth as a person. It won't be easy, but the alternative is terrible.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:49 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Frankly, you shouldn't be marrying her if you're having doubts during the honeymoon phase and if you two haven't spent a lot of time together in person. Long distance can be fun and exciting due to the roller coaster ride of emotions that you often feel but from personal experience and scientific literature, I can assure you that it's an unstable foundation to built a lasting commitment, much less a lifelong commitment like marriage. I think you should slow down a bit and assess things a bit more clearly.

I'm of the camp that no woman should every marry a man who doesn't worship the ground she walks on. If you're ambivalent about her looks when she's in her prime and don't find her beautiful even when she's sick and vomiting with a 102 temperature and when she's walking around in her sweaty pyjamas after a long night of studying, you're not the right guy for her. Some guy will think she looks beautiful even when she is lying in bed in a conservative flannel nightgown and no makeup--that guy doesn't appear to be you. A man in love during the honeymoon phase and even post-limerance sees his chick as beautiful all of the time, not some of the time; he expresses his adoration of her constantly and continuously and has no doubts entering into a commitment with her. You really don't sound like you're the right guy for her, so I'd release this girl before you break her heart and waste any more of her time.

You want a prettier girl because you think "you can do better" even though your parents had a bad relationship? OK, but then don't complain when she can't sustain a conversation or make you as happy as your current partner does. You need to find the one you can't live without, the one who you can't possibly imagine a future without, the one you'd do anything to be with no matter what, and the one you respect. Don't marry her if you have doubts because it'll backfire--always trust your gut.

I may be younger than you but I'm sensing that you just haven't had enough life experience to develop insight into what you want, need, and desire. You'll just know when you've met the one and this girl, sad as I am to say it, doesn't sound like she's it for you. Go out there and try on other girls for size. You'll soon find, like countless men before you, that good relationships are extremely hard to find and that the grass is usually never greener on the other side. Yet you'll persist and make a million more mistakes until you'll be ready for the long haul, which is perfectly OK.

Best wishes.
posted by lotusmish at 12:10 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Consider that this probably has nothing to do with your fiancee and everything to do with the fact that you are simply not emotionally mature or emotionally ready to get married.

Marriage is not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.
posted by PsuDab93 at 5:58 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: What if I could do some counseling to bring me to that level of maturity ?

Will that make all the difference ?
posted by red47Apple at 8:36 AM on June 21, 2013

Best answer: Regarding you question about counseling and maturity:

Counseling can be a great help in making important decisions. You're dealing with conflicting wishes and thoughts, and your mind goes around and around among them but never quite sorts them out. You might be holding certain assumptions that aren't necessarily valid. You might be overlooking some vital principles that could improve your focus.

Examples: you're assuming you have enough information to decide about marrying. But really, you two don't know each other very well. You once felt certain that she was the one you should be with; now you realize you don't know that at all. It doesn't feel right for you to honor your own doubts, but it also seems wrong to commit to marriage, and you feel stuck between the two.

Part of maturity is identifying the traits you most want to embody, and deciding what values will guide your actions. Then you use those as you decide how to proceed. But maybe you want to be a man of your word and not break the engagement, and simultaneously want to be honest about your feelings. A counselor can help you step outside the mental conflicts to recognize that it's more important to be wise about your future than to keep your promise.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't marry your girlfriend, but it's pretty clear that you need to hold off on deciding until you know each other better and also know more about what you want from marriage.
posted by wryly at 12:06 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you are hoping counseling will change you enough that you can avoid having this painful conversation with your girlfriend. I think we can make that simpler for you. The painful conversation needs to be had. You don't want to continue with your plans to marry. You need to take a step back and put all that on hold until you know each other better. You can say that in so many words, and you should.

Counseling is one of the experiences that could lead you to make a decision to pursue this relationship, or not. But you don't know the outcome until you start, and it could take some time. In the meantime, it's only fair for you to let her know you are ambivalent enough to end this expectation of marriage in a year's time. She should have enough information about the present state of your intentions to make good decisions for herself. So have the conversation, and stop looking for an easy, painless way out of that. There isn't one. However, it's likely that it won't go as badly as you imagine it might. It won't be the end of the world.
posted by Miko at 1:02 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

What if I could do some counseling to bring me to that level of maturity ?

Will that make all the difference ?

Counseling will, ideally, help you make sense of your feelings, which is a good thing. So yeah, it should make some difference, if only that it gives you clarity and perspective. Not a bad thing.
posted by kinetic at 2:38 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

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