It's a bit of a taboo subject in our culture: attraction, or lack thereof. We're taught that you're either attracted to a romantic partner or not, and there are no gradations in between. We also place great value on physical attraction and use it as a barometer for whether or not we should continue to pursue a relationship. Even if the attraction was there initially but ultimately fades, we culturally support someone leaving a relationship for that reason. "I just wasn't attracted to her anymore," and the audience nods.
I can even hear the potential backlash to the title of this article: If you have to work to feel more attraction, obviously you're in the wrong relationship!
I champion a vastly different mindset: not only can we grow attraction, but if a solid and loving relationship is going to withstand the test of time, we must learn to see beyond the superficial criteria of attraction by which we're culturally conditioned to view others (and ourselves).
Let's say you meet someone and the primary determinant for whether or not you feel attracted to that person is physical appearance. What happens when, 10 or 30 years down the road, their physical appearance is altered by time and life (as it inevitably will be): skin wrinkles, hair thins and grays, body parts pooch and muscles sag? If you haven't cultivated real attraction for your partner, you'll panic and your relationship will probably suffer immensely and, possibly, irreparably.
So if real attraction isn't just about physical appearance, what is it?
Real attraction is when you see your partner's essence—who he or she is in her heart—instead of only focusing on externals. It's heart-work at the deepest level. It's seeing beyond the bald spot or the big nose or the income or degrees, and swimming in the delicious, sparkling river of your partner's goodness, her kindness, his complete devotion to loving you and supporting you.
And there's good news for those who struggle to feel more attracted to their loving, devoted, well-matched significant other. For those who don't want to walk away from their best friend and fantastic life partner just because they don't swoon every time she or he walks in the room: Real attraction, like real love, is a skill that can be grown. In fact, there are actual Love Laws and Loving Actions that, when understood and practiced, lead to increased love and attraction for your partner.
Here are a few of the love laws and loving actions:
1. Redefine attraction.
When you to learn to see essence instead of only externals and understand that attraction is much more than surface features, you see that real attraction is a magnetic force that draws you to your partner's intrinsic, inviolable qualities. You can then cultivate this real magnetism through loving actions like connecting to gratitude and expressing appreciation.
2. Notice and name your fear walls.
We all fear intimacy to different degrees. We fear losing ourselves, losing other, or losing control. When someone comes too close, even if it's someone we deeply love, it's natural for fear walls to erect around our hearts to protect us from the risk of suffering these losses. When you bring compassion and attention to these fear walls, they start to soften, and you can then make a choice to either indulge the fear wall, thereby fueling its fire, or choose to act lovingly by moving toward your partner.
When we move toward our deeper value—to share a loving connection with our partner—as opposed to giving in to the feeling of the moment, we soften the fear walls and are able to create the relationship we truly desire. Identifying the fear wall and the sometimes subtle ways it can manifest—like lack of attraction or irritation—is an essential first step.
3. Love yourself.
We often hear that it's not possible to truly love another until you learn to love yourself. I believe that there is truth to this statement, but I also believe that in actively loving another (using the Love Laws and Loving Actions I've enumerated above) you also fill your well of self-love. Still, it's essential to dismantle the unloving beliefs you hold about yourself that limit your ability to take loving action on your own behalf. As you love yourself and see yourself as you really are—basing your self-worth on your own intrinsic, inviolable qualities that have nothing to do with externals—your love for your partner naturally grows.
This work isn't always easy as it flies in the face of everything we've been conditioned to believe in our highly image-based culture. It requires you not only to re-learn the way you see and judge others but also how you've allowed feelings to determine your actions and perhaps most importantly, the way you see and judge yourself.
When you learn the nuts and bolts behind the science of love, your relationship—and your entire life—will change in ways you can only imagine.