Our culture transmits a grossly distorted and limited definition of "attraction," viewing it primarily at a physical and sexual level. We talk about “chemistry” and “butterflies” and use these qualities as barometers for how “in love” we are. When asked what qualities you want in a partner, the first thing people often emphasize is physical attraction.
But what happens when physical and sexual attraction fade?
What's left when the glimmer and sizzle of the infatuation stage fizzle, as they inevitably will? If you chose your partner primarily for his or her physical attributes and there isn’t a strong foundation of friendship and real attraction, the relationship will likely fall apart.
That's when people often flock to the internet, where they typically find articles that espouse the cultural myth that "doubt means don't" and "if you're not attracted it's time to leave."
I take a different approach. I view attraction as much more than the surface level of a pretty face, a "hot" body or anything in physical form. So if you're finding yourself in the relationship stage where attraction has faded, take heart and read on. Real attraction can be grown in the garden of a healthy relationship when you know which seeds to plant!
1. Redefine "attraction."
Just like I define real love quite often in my work, I also redefine attraction and bring the shiny world of Hollywood and Disney into reality. If the cultural definition is limited to the physical realm, my work is about helping people see beyond the surface into the realm of essence.
What is real attraction?
Real attraction is about the person you see when all pretenses fade away. It’s about the light that emanates from his eyes or the radiance of her smile. It’s about seeing soul instead of personality, the sustaining beauty of true nature instead of the fleeting beauty of a pretty face. It’s about what draws you to your partner, what connects you, what makes you say yes to him or her and no to everyone else. It’s about that place that feels like home, when you can sit next to each other immersed in engaging conversation or content in silence.
Let’s understand attraction in terms of connection instead of in terms of superficial beauty. For we’ve all known people who appear typically beautiful, but as soon as they open their mouth, the spell is broken and their true, toad-like nature is revealed. And we’ve known the opposite scenario as well: the person our culture defines as physically unattractive but whose essence radiates such love, warmth, and goodness that they’re transformed into the fabled prince or princess.
When you reorient your compass from surface to essence, you see into the heart of the person you love and the externals naturally fade into the background. This isn't a fast or easy practice, but it can definitely be done.
2. Take care of yourself.
It's become a self-help cliche, but it's quite true: You cannot fully love another until you love yourself. When you find yourself feeling a lack of love and attraction for your partner, the first place to look is inside of you: Are you feeling disconnected from yourself? Are you tired, hormonal, stressed, or hungover?
Once you're past the honeymoon stage where the exhilaration of new love overrides our own inner states of connection or disconnection, the work of conscious love requires a recognition that your partner is often a screen onto which you project your inner states. When you're feeling good inside of yourself, you'll see your partner through those eyes. When you're off-kilter, your perception will likewise be altered and you'll be more likely to see your partner through blurred vision.
3. Focus on what you appreciate about your partner.
One of the quickest ways to reorient your focus from external to internal attraction is to to focus on gratitude. My most devoted clients and e-course members commit to a daily practice of writing a gratitude and appreciation list about their partners. When we focus on what we love instead of what we perceive as missing, the channels in our hearts open, the fog of misperception clears, and we're able to see our partners for who they really are beyond all impermanent externals.
If you're going to walk through life with someone for the next several decades, the practice of redefining attraction will serve you well. For it's an undeniable and inevitable occurrence that everyone's physical body will show the effects of age: hair will thin and gray, bellies will pooch, other parts will sag, skin will wrinkle.
If you're attached to the slick and "pretty" version of beauty, you'll find yourself in quite an uncomfortable spot in the years to come. So let your work of learning to see real attraction begin now.
If you'd like to learn the 30 Love Laws and Loving Actions that will help you grow your love and attraction, I'd love for you to join me as I guide a group of passionate learners through my next round of "Open Your Heart: A 30 day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner."