Why am I attracted to other men, but not my husband?

by Alisa Bowman on May 29, 2009

Q: I want my marriage to work. It’s the right thing for my kids, plus I am afraid of being alone with 2 children. My husband is a good man. Good men are hard to find. At the same time, I don’t feel that physical connection with him anymore.  I don’t even like him touching me, but I am extremely physically attracted to someone else. Why is it that this other man can make me feel so good and my husband can no longer do this for me? What should I do? – Woman in a Marriage Crisis

Dear Woman in a Marriage Crisis,

Just like nearly everything in life, no relationship is perfect. One man might be a great lover, but not a great conversationalist. Another might be a great provider, but a terrible lover. Few if any people have every single quality we desire in a mate.

Once you allow yourself to accept this fact, you’ll have a much easier time seeing the shortcomings of your marriage as problems that you can solve over time. Rather than seeing your lack of attraction to your husband as a fatal flaw—one that can only be solved by either replacing him or cheating on him—you’ll look into ways to build a healthy attraction.

Excluding that temporary insanity that most of us feel during the early days of a relationship, long-term attraction is not a magical quality that you either have or don’t. You can create it. I know this because I did just that in my own marriage. A few years ago, I would have rather had all of my toenails extracted than have sex with my husband. Now I look forward to it (the sex, not the toe nail removal).

This is what I recommend:

* Launch Project: Attraction. Tell your husband about it. Explain that your yearning for him has waned over the years and that you’d like to get it back. Be honest. Reveal your weakness for other men. Tell him that you want your marriage to work and that you don’t want to have an affair, but you are afraid that you might. Ask him to help you fall back in love with him.

* Start having sex on a regular basis, even if you don’t want to do it. Sex helps build a connection that will turn into a healthy attraction over time.

* Deal with any turn-offs. If he needs dental care, tell him. If he needs to spend more time on personal hygiene, tell him.

* Teach him how to romance you. Give him an instruction manual.

* Teach him how to please you in bed. Again, if needed, given him an instruction manual. Also, add variety to your sex life. In long-term relationships, monogamy often turns into sexual monotony, but it doesn’t have to. Be creative and be willing to try new things.

* Touch often. It’s really the simple things that keep a marriage going. Hug before you leave the house or when you come home. Hold hands. Sit closely on the couch. Stroke his arm or pat his back. Constantly be looking for new ways to have skin-to-skin contact.


* Be transparent.
Allow him to know the real you and vice versa. The more you get to know each other on a deeper level, the more your attraction will grow.

* Put on blinders. It’s normal to occasionally feel attracted to other people. You’re married. You’re not a eunuch (or whatever the female version of one would be called). You can look, but you can’t touch. Practice the art of healthy self-control.  Learn how to release your attachment to wanting it all. Learn how to be happy with the wonderful man you already have.

Do you have advice for Woman in a Marriage Crisis? Leave a comment.

A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

{ 95 comments… read them below or add one }

Persephone September 14, 2013 at 11:07 pm

I wish I could say that this dilemma was a recent thing in my marriage (7 years in October), but alas it is not. I am starting to think we got married way too fast. We only knew each other for 6 months before we got engaged and then married a month later. I was only 3 months out from ending a 5 year abusive relationship. My mother even asked me on my wedding night if I was sure, and at the time I thought I was. Now I am not so sure. We have two small children together so I want to make things work for their sake, but I just don’t physically want to be intimate with my husband any more. He doesn’t even turn me on in the least and I cannot have an orgasm when we do have sex, but I have no issues bringing my self to one. He has put on some weight over the last few years (he has 100 pounds on me), but he was once attractive to me. I just really do not know what to do because sometimes I don’t even want to be around him. Any time I try to talk to him about how I feel he always makes it about him, and how he feels underappreciated. He used to complain to his best friend about how I didn’t work, but now that I do work he complains about me not being home. I just don’t know what to do anymore, or if its even worth trying to save my marriage.

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londie October 19, 2013 at 11:17 pm

It seems like your husbands weight gain has a lot to do with how you feel. Perhaps couples therapy may work. Your husband may be dealing with issues of his own to let himself go. The strain of life can make it hard to stay in love. But remember that life is full of ups and downs and relationships are almost always difficult. If you divorce your husband in some ways your life will be harder because you will be a single parent with a new kind of problem. Talk to a professional about how you feel and invite your husband to join in. If you can’t afford therapy, try a spiritual mentor like a pastor, priest or rabbi. Try to be mindful that how you resolve your relationship problems will teach your children how to resolve their own when they grow up.

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Rachel November 1, 2013 at 5:55 am

Why would she want to put effort and time with someone who clearly is very difficult and not meeting her needs anymore. The best thing you can do for your
kids is to love yourself, be happy and find what makes you happy. They will survive if you opt to not be with your husband. They will most likely thrive and be in a better place because you will be listening to your inner voice and not allowing someone to put you down about working or disregard what you need. Putting on 100 pounds is unacceptable and clearly there are issues going on with your husbands self-esteem. He is not a good role model for your kids as far as eating healthy. I am not attracted to my husband, I can arouse myself too, and I find other men attractive as well. Emotionally I have been really hurt and extremely frustrated by my husbands actions. We’ve come to the point where he is frustrated and says we act like roommates. One of the issues for me is that he is a selfish lover. For me it’s hard to want to start something when you know you will end up unsatisfied and disappointed, while they have got what they abated without asking how you feel or being concerned that you are disappointed. Sad and I have seriously been contemplating leaving my husband. I want to be happy and be a priority.

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Joy November 16, 2013 at 2:28 am

I am 42 years old, and recently divorced from a man I was married to for almost ten years. There are a lot of these comments I can relate to, but the only thing we all have in common is that our situations are all unique and need different solutions. I was initially attracted to my husband while we were dating, emotionally, and somewhat physically, though it was not a strong attraction. Over the years, he began to job hop, lost a few jobs, and ran up a lot of credit card debt that he concealed from me. When I found out about it and gently confronted him, he became defensive and shut me out. Then he blamed me for treating him poorly. At that point I lost what little attraction I had left for him. Our marriage lasted another two years, with me always trying to break through, encourage honesty and affection, and him always doing the opposite of anything I might suggest. Ironically, he was the one to leave me, and although devastated, there was also a strange sense of relief. We have two beautiful little girls who are with me 90% of the time. Life is a struggle, but I do feel i put myself into my marriage and also set boundaries of respect for myself. When you set healthy boundaries for yourself and your spouse chooses to leave, it’s not your fault. I think in many cases, a woman feels physically unattracted to her husband because she is emotionally/ spiritually not attracted to or compatible with her husband. And vice versa-a man can also feel this way about his wife. Honesty is the only way, even if it is hurtful. There’s a kind way to say almost anything, and it gives your spouse the respect of trusting that they should be mature enough to handle honesty. None of us are perfect. I’m sure there have been periods where I was unattractive to my husband! He saw me through good and bad. There should be enough more emotionally and spiritually to a marriage to sustain where physical attraction wanes. And this means more than someone being a good provider and a nice guy. Belief in God, common life goals, these help.

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pauline January 4, 2014 at 3:54 pm

I love my husband but I don’t like him touching me I met a guy from work for the first time which her conected very quickly, .ive Only had conversations with I’m, every time I think about him I feel turned on plus we have been txt each other we are both
in a relationship which is not great he is only with him for the kids. He is a bit younger than me. I’m confused whY should I do????? Help

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sara April 6, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I feel the same way.. I have two very young boys i got pregnant with our first kid 3 mo after we met. Im scared to try to raise them on my own. I have over 3 years before they are both in school. But im not physically attracted to my husband. I havent’ been for a long time. I almost cringe when he touches me. And when we do have sex i cant wait till its over. I need advice. I know he truly loves me and that makes it hard because i dont want to hurt him. But im not happy. I need my heart to feel something in order to be happy in a relationship.

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deena April 9, 2014 at 2:59 pm

I feel the same way.i don’t want to have sex with my husband at all. I cringe and hate him touching me. We have 4 beautiful kids so I am here for them only. My husband and I no longer have same beliefs. I thought I had those same beliefs but just came to realize I faked it. I feel so ashamed and go not have the courage to tell him how I feel.

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Melissa April 22, 2014 at 9:23 am

I’m feeling completely the same.
I met someone at work who is 7 years younger then me, we started talking and texting a lot a couple years ago. He told me he had feelings and said everything I wanted to hear. I fell pregnant to my husband at the time, but I had felt an attraction towards this other man. He pulled away from me because he said it was best for the both of us. I struggled with that. I returned back to work when my baby was 6 months old. Instantly when I see him my heart would beat fast. We go in and out of talking, if he pulls away and doesn’t talk to me I get depressed. I don’t want my husband to touch me and I get turned on so easily when I look at the man I’m attracted to. It’ feels like it’s that bad that I wouldn’t even care if my hubby cheated on me cause I feel like it could give me a way out.
The thing is he is the only man I have ever been with so I’m not sure whether that is why I’m so confused as well. I know I should stay away from the other guy but it’s like I am weak when it comes to him… Even though I don’t believe he has those feelings anymore.

I don’t know how to handle this at all.

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