How often in the course of our lives do we hear that you never get a second chance to make a first impression? It’s drummed into us before we go on job interviews and blind dates. Rightly or wrongly, we judge, and are judged, by that impression. What we see matters.
Remember when you first met your partner? Did you find them physically attractive? For most of us, the answer is yes. It is one of the primary reasons given for deciding to date a particular person in the first place.
When you first became involved, you probably gave a lot of thought to what you would wear and how you would look before stepping out the door to meet your special someone. Movies and television show the importance of a relationship by how many changes of clothes a character goes through before finding the perfect outfit that makes them irresistible.
The importance of physical attraction
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that physical attractiveness is recognised as an emotional need for many people, especially men. This desire to be found attractive drives the beauty, diet and plastic surgery industries. So why is it thought to be a superficial desire once you are a part of an established couple? If what your partner looked like was a key part of what made you interested in them, why shouldn’t it still matter years later?
The expression, familiarity breeds contempt, comes to mind. A certain level of relaxation in your own home is to be expected, but it’s a fine line into no longer making an effort to take care of yourself. It also puts you or your partner in a difficult position.
What your partner won’t say
It is very difficult to tell your partner that you no longer find them attractive. Most of us recognize that is a hurtful statement and you undoubtedly still love many things about your partner. You might make subtle efforts–buy them a new outfit, invite them to the gym with you, misplace their favorite pair of sweats, etc. You might even make specific requests on some occasions–asking your partner to shave, wear the blue dress or skip the second helping so you can have leftovers for lunch. But usually, you don’t get more direct than that because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.
Unfortunately, subtle doesn’t often work. You’re left with the choice of being direct, and hurting your partner’s feelings, or not saying anything and getting frustrated. The problem with the latter is that your frustration will come out anyway. You will look for ways to avoid being in intimate situations with your partner, your relationship will suffer, and your partner won’t have a clue.
What you both should be doing is what you did when you first met–bringing your best physical self to the relationship by:
1. Taking care of yourself physically
No matter what your age, you can be healthy. Healthy people are attractive people. This means caring about your weight, your diet, your level of exercise and amount of sleep you get. Normal aging and body changes due to pregnancy or other physical conditions are to be expected and respected.
2. Practicing good hygiene
Bathing regularly, brushing your teeth, shaving, etc., should be no brainers. It is a matter of respect to your partner and your relationship. No one wants to cuddle up to someone who smells.
3. Taking an effort with your appearance
Get out of your old sweats and dirty jeans. Put on a nice shirt, some makeup or perfume. If you dress nicely for others, doesn’t your partner deserve the same care?
4. Honouring reasonable requests from your partner
Wearing the cologne or hairstyle your spouse finds attractive is about doing something loving for them. Dressing nicely or leaving the baseball cap at home when you go to dinner may be the same. Small gestures that cost you little can have big payoffs in how your partner feels about you and the relationship.
5. Stopping annoying habits
Again, there should be some ability to be “off” in your home, but when you live with someone else, letting it all hang out may be problematic. Leaving the room when you need to pass gas, chewing with your mouth closed, scratching your private parts in private, drinking milk out of a glass and not the carton, will go a long way to remaining attractive in your partner’s eyes.