Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend Isn’t Physically Attracted To Me”

I met a guy on the internet a little over a year ago. We clicked right away, and discovered we’re both mid-30s and share the same philosophies, thoughts and beliefs. A lot of our likes and dislikes mingle quite nicely, too. Of course, it’s a long-distance thing, but we’ve had a couple visits, both in his town and in mine. We’ve had fun in bed — the sex isn’t amazing, but it shows distinct promise. Bottom line: I want to make a life with this man; I can’t imagine connecting with someone else on the same level ever again. But, the problem is he isn’t physically attracted to me. I think I’ve always known it, but I pushed it to the back of my mind. The only time the word “hot” has been mentioned is when I’m performing particular sex acts on (or for) him. And even then, it wasn’t “you’re hot”, but “that’s hot.” Silly, I know, but it makes a difference… And now it’s out in the open, and I feel utterly broken up by it. He’s insisting that he loves me with his “fully-advanced” brain, and that what the “reptilian brain” thinks isn’t important. But it is! If he doesn’t find me attractive, then he doesn’t love me completely. Is it possible to make a life with someone when their heart doesn’t skip a beat upon seeing you? — Not Hot to Him

I feel your pain here, but I think the bigger question shouldn’t be whether it’s possible to make a life with someone who isn’t physically attractive to you, but whether you can make a life with someone who uses the phrase “reptilian brain.” In all seriousness, it is possible for your boyfriend to love you completely even if he isn’t 100 percent physically attracted to you. People have different priorities in relationships and for him, appearance may not rank that high. He may be attracted enough to your heart, personality, and intelligence, that the minor detail of what his, uh, “reptilian brain” thinks is inconsequential. What I have a problem with here, and why I think your chances for success, sadly, are a bit limited, is that you know he isn’t physically attracted to you — that you’ve “always known it.” Even if it were just a feeling you’d had since the beginning, that would be bad enough — I can’t imagine how devastating that must be to your confidence! — but that he’s actually confirmed your worries is certainly cause for concern. What kind of guy actually tells his girlfriend he isn’t physically attracted to her? Did that really happen? Am I reading your letter right? Maybe it didn’t happen that way and you’re just making assumptions, jumping to conclusions, putting words in your boyfriend’s mouth. But, honestly, if he actually told you you don’t do it for him physically, I think the bigger problem here is that you’re with an inconsiderate clod who isn’t sensitive enough to your feelings to overcome what may be lacking on the attraction front. But in answer to your question: sure, it’s possible to make a life with someone whose heart doesn’t skip a beat when he sees you. But my question to you: can you really be happy in that life?

I’m in a very happy relationship with my boyfriend, and we have been together for a year. He’s 28 and I’m 27. We see eye-to-eye on the important issues in life, and we’re a wonderful support system for each other. We talk about the long-term and can chat for hours about our various interests, movies, aspirations in life, etc. He’s made it clear that I’m the leader in the relationship, and that works well for us. However, I’m a girl who loves intellectual debates and discussions. When I try to have these discussions or debates with my boyfriend, he ends up just agreeing with me because he rarely understands what I’m even talking about. He’s a smart guy, and he has an amazing memory for facts and stats, but I thrive on being able to toss ideas around with someone and hearing other viewpoints that make me think about things. So, what happens down the road when we have to make really important life decisions, and I don’t have the benefit of a partner who can think deeply and critically about things? I have a whole mental list of “pros” and that’s the one and only “con,” but do you think two people can stay together happily who are on different intellectual levels? Should I seek that kind of stuff outside of the relationship and just be happy I have an amazing guy with whom I’m really in love? — Master Debater

Of course it’s possible for two people who are on different intellectual levels to stay happy together, just as it’s possible for people of different levels of attraction or income or talents to be happy together forever. The key is to look at how you feel now. How does that difference in your intellectual level make you feel today, right now? Is it merely a concern for how you’ll tackle future challenges, or is it something that keeps you from being as fulfilled and happy in a relationship as you wish you could be? If it’s the former, rest assured that if you communicate well now, you’ll only continue building those tools together. But if it’s the latter, and you truly feel that something is missing in your relationship, that feeling isn’t likely to disappear over time. In fact, it’s probably only going to grow. It doesn’t matter how many boxes you’re able to check off for your boyfriend in your “pros” column, if there’s one big glaring “con” that keeps you from feeling completely fulfilled in your relationship, you’re always going to wonder if there might be a better match for you. Only you can decide how big that one “con” is.

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