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Sometimes people do not feel attracted to their partner. This may have been the case for a long time, and there may be many reasons for it, but there is help available. Here we look at what can be done to improve the situation.

When you don’t feel attracted to your partner

Not feeling attracted to your partner can be challenging and complicated for a relationship.

This lack of attraction can be due to many factors. It is important to explore these feelings in-depth to understand their origins and how to deal with them.

The underlying causes of the issue can be worked on in self-help and therapy to help address and improve it.

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What is attraction?

Attraction in a relationship includes physical, emotional, intellectual and social attraction to another person. Physical attraction is appearance-based, while emotional attraction is based on personality traits and emotional connection.

Intellectual attraction involves appreciation of someone’s thoughts and ideas, and social attraction focuses on a person’s social skills and charisma. Attraction is dynamic and can evolve over time, playing a central role in the development of the relationship and evolving through communication and mutual respect to maintain a strong and lasting connection.

What causes reduced attraction in a relationship?

A decrease in attraction to one’s partner can be due to an interaction of emotional, physical, lifestyle and psychological factors. Emotional distance, unresolved conflicts and lack of trust can create a gap that reduces attraction. Physical changes with age, hormonal shifts and stress can also affect how you feel attracted to your partner. A monotonous lifestyle and lack of variety in the relationship, as well as neglect of personal hygiene, can lead to a decline in attraction.

Changes in personal interests or values can also lead to a feeling of growing apart. To deal with these challenges, open communication and sometimes professional help can be used to explore and rekindle the attraction. It is important to remember that attraction can vary over time in a relationship, and a period of reduced attraction does not mean the end of the relationship.


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What can be done about reduced attraction to a partner?

Feeling less attracted to your partner can be dealt with through open communication, sharing your feelings in a respectful way. Reflecting on what is causing the lack of attraction is important, whether it is emotional distance, life changes or stress. Renewing the relationship with new joint activities can break the monotony and strengthen the bond between you.

Remind yourself of your partner’s positive qualities and why you fell for them in the first place. Personal health also affects how you view your partner, so take care of your own well-being. Couples therapy can provide tools to increase closeness, and physical contact like hugs can help rekindle the attraction. Remember that attraction can naturally fluctuate over time in a relationship, and active work and communication are key to rekindling the spark.

What is couples therapy?

Couples therapy is psychotherapy that helps couples resolve conflicts, improve communication and strengthen their relationship. It is suitable for couples in all relationship types and focuses on addressing issues that affect the health of the relationship. Together with a therapist, the couple works to understand the core issues, improve communication, manage disagreements and strengthen their relationship.

This involves exploring the history of the relationship, improving the expression of thoughts and feelings, addressing specific problems such as finances or parenting, and developing conflict management strategies. Couples therapy is valuable during crises such as infidelity or major change. The goal is to help the couple understand what is best for them, whether that means staying together or separating in a healthy way.

The therapist acts as a neutral, supportive and objective party who helps the couple navigate through their problems without taking sides or placing blame. Seeking couples therapy can be a powerful step towards revitalising a relationship and building a stronger, more fulfilling future together.


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Treatment for relationship problems

Couples therapy begins with initial sessions for the therapist to get to know the couple and their challenges, followed by setting joint goals to improve the relationship, such as better communication or conflict management. The work phase focuses on developing communication skills, resolving conflicts, working through emotional issues and introducing positive behavioural changes, with active input from both partners. The process ends with an evaluation and a plan to maintain and improve the relationship further. The therapist’s role is to guide and support the couple through this process, where the couple’s involvement is crucial for success. Couples therapy aims to provide insights and tools for a stronger and more satisfying relationship.

Different methods of couples therapy

There are several different approaches to couples therapy, each with their own theoretical basis and techniques to help couples improve their relationship. Here are two evidence-based approaches that are commonly used:

1. Integrative behavioural couples therapy (IBCT)

IBCT aims to help couples accept the irreconcilable differences between them and work on increasing closeness and understanding by improving emotional acceptance and empathic communication. The method combines behavioural changes with acceptance strategies. It is an evidence-based approach, meaning that it has been shown to produce good results in research and is a further development of cognitive behavioural therapy for couples.

2. Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)

EFT is a method that focuses on strengthening the emotional bond between partners by exploring the emotional responses that underly the couple’s interaction patterns. The therapy helps couples identify and express their underlying emotional needs and learn to meet each other’s needs in a more satisfying way. EFT is an evidence-based approach that has been shown to produce good results.

Each method has its own strengths and may be more or less appropriate depending on the couple’s specific situation and needs. Things such as the Gottman Method, other couples therapies, and literature can also be helpful in learning more about relationships. Many couples therapists use a combination of these methods to best address the couple’s unique challenges.


12 common questions about partner attraction issues

What is attraction in a relationship?

Attraction is a pull that one feels towards a person and it depends on several elements such as physical, emotional, intellectual and social factors.

What causes decreased attraction to a partner?

A decrease in attraction to a partner can be due to an interaction of emotional, physical, lifestyle and psychological factors. It is often a combination of things and can also be helped in couples therapy.

What can be done about reduced attraction to a partner?

It can be addressed through open communication and reflection on what is causing the lack of attraction. Renewing the relationship with new joint activities and reminding yourself of your partner’s positive qualities and personal health also have an impact. Couples therapy can also be helpful.

Does decreased attraction mean that a relationship is ending?

It is important to remember that attraction can vary over time in a relationship, and a period of reduced attraction does not mean the end of the relationship. It can be addressed.

What is couples therapy?

Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help couples understand and resolve conflicts, improve their relationship and communication, and strengthen the closeness of the relationship.

How does treatment for relationship problems work?

Treatment often starts with an assessment phase to identify problems and patterns. This is followed by an active treatment phase where work on tools and strategies to change patterns is central. Finally, there is a closing phase where the treatment is summarised for further work after the therapy.

What is IBCT?

IBCT (Integrative Behavioural Couples Therapy) is an evidence-based therapy that aims to help couples accept their differences and work on increasing closeness and understanding by improving emotional acceptance and empathic communication. It combines behavioural changes with acceptance strategies.

What is EFT?

EFT (Emotionally focused therapy) is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on building and strengthening the emotional bond between couples by exploring and reshaping the negative patterns of interaction that contribute to conflict and distance in the relationship.

I don’t feel sexual attraction to my partner, what should I do?

The first thing to do is to communicate and reflect on the situation and what might be causing it. You can look at the factors and stresses in your life but also the closeness of the relationship. If necessary, you can also try couples therapy.

We are stuck in a rut and the attraction has diminished, what can we do about it?

Falling into patterns and routines is common in a relationship. You can try to renew the relationship by creating variety and, if necessary, go to couples therapy to get more help if the patterns are difficult to break for other reasons.

My partner has mental health problems, can we go to couples therapy?

If you have problems with depression or other mental health issues such as addiction, it is important to seek help for this separately from couples therapy. These problems often need to be addressed before couples therapy to get a good result.

Where can I seek help?

Contact your GP for a referral to a therapist. You can also book an online session with one of Lavendla’s experienced therapists. We help make the difficult easier.

Treatment for relationship problems with Integrative Behavioural Couples Therapy (IBCT)

Integrative Behavioural Couples Therapy (IBCT) is an evidence-based form of couples therapy that aims to help couples improve their relationship by accepting each other and increasing the couple’s emotional closeness. IBCT combines traditional behavioural therapy techniques with a focus on both change and acceptance. Here is how a treatment with IBCT usually works:

Initial phase

  • Assessment: Treatment begins with a thorough assessment of the couple’s relationship, including their current problems, relationship history, and each party’s perspectives and experiences.
  • Feedback session: The therapist provides feedback based on the initial assessment. This phase often includes discussions about the couple’s strengths as well as areas that need development.

Work phase

  • Focus on acceptance: IBCT emphasises the importance of accepting unbridgeable differences between partners. The therapist works with the couple to help them understand and empathically accept each other’s needs, desires, and patterns of behaviour that cannot be easily changed.
  • Emotional closeness: By encouraging openness and communication, the therapist helps the couple increase their emotional closeness and understanding of each other.
  • Behavior change: Although the focus is on acceptance, IBCT also includes strategies for behaviour change. This may involve developing new communication skills, solving problems, and working on improving daily interactions.

Closure

  • Evaluation of progress: Together, the therapist and couple evaluate the progress made during therapy and discuss any future steps or continued support.

IBCT focuses on helping couples develop a deeper understanding and acceptance of each other, which can lead to a more satisfying and sustainable relationship. By balancing acceptance with active change interventions, IBCT aims to reduce conflict, increase closeness and strengthen the emotional bond between partners.

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Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.