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Breaking-up over lack of intense physical attraction?

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Hi all,

Apologies for the length of this post I tried to write this down for the first time in the hope it will bring clarity to the thoughts that have been plaguing me.
The situation:

I [28 M] have been with her [24 F] for 5 years. Everything is great in theory. We have a lot of fun together and a real “mature” and stable relationship. We enjoy doing the same things and spend nearly all our time together. We have talked about the future and we are aligned on all the usual major topics.
There is just one issue: I am just not that physically attracted to her. We still enjoy being intimate with each other and it is “nice” but that is all. I just never get blown away by her attraction wise. What bothers me most about that is that I could just be walking around town and almost every girl I see is more attractive to me than her and it makes me feel both upset and really bad because I am ashamed of myself for feeling/thinking that way.

The interesting thing to me about all of this is that I never have been that attracted to her physically so it’s not like I was and then I lost the spark it was her personality from day one which always somehow kept my doubts in-check. If you wonder, why in the world I even got together with her the answer is that we met online and I fell in love with her written profile. The things she described she wanted and looked for resonated deep in me and so even though there was no real picture I contacted her and we just hit if off amazingly probably the first two weeks we just chatted online all night and we just chimed perfectly. Shortly after we met in person and despite my hesitation over attractiveness I got swept away by her personality and how amazing a human being she is.

We communicate openly very well and over the years this topic has come up and we discussed them openly. I told her some of the things I like and am attracted to but she just isn’t into that. I am talking simple things like occasional high heels, pretty make-up and such. She does it very, very rarely but I can tell she hates it and it doesn't work for either of us. It’s not that she didn’t like it it’s just in her own words she doesn’t like discomfort/pain/inconvenience, and she doesn’t want to “waste her time” on things like this. The same goes for going to the gym/working and weight loss.

To be fair on her I get it I can fully appreciate (and admire) the time and effort girls spend working on their appearance and how that must be hell if you weren’t into it or enjoying the process. She also says if she did these things “for me” she would hate herself and it needs to come from her internally. She said things might change in the future but she can’t/won’t promise anything.

I am not blaming her for any of this but I just can’t help wanting and missing it. It’s always worst when we are out in public and I see the contrast between her and everyone else. As a recent example we were invited to a cocktail party a few months back with ~300 people in attendance and she was probably the only girl under 40 who hadn’t bothered with make-up, shoes or special dress. Going around town with her is also bizarre because contrary to most relationships I would be the one pointing out interesting dresses/shoes in shops while she barely notices or is interested.

After years of occasional doubts I am seriously considering breaking up but I just can’t work out if it is the right thing to do. Specifically, the following questions keep me awake at night:
a) The main excuse I keep on making is that things aren’t “bad”. It’s not that she is unattractive to me she just isn’t as attractive as I’d ideally like and I wonder if I would be happier otherwise
b) Is it worth throwing away an otherwise perfect stable and happy relationship over something as petty as this. I am a very rational person and I hate how much “hotness” matters to me. It just makes me feel shallow and not very good about myself
c) I know physical attraction will always be “temporary” even if I end up with someone who blows me away I know this is going to fade eventually. The thing is now I am still young and yearning to be with someone and I worry if I don’t do it now I might just spend my whole life regretting that fact. I have been in a relationship before this one with a girl who I had fallen in love with “at first sight” and I long for the same chemistry and spark I felt back then.
d) I feel like it is her attitude and sense of beauty more than her actual looks. I know she will never be conventionally hot but if she cared more about her appearance that would make a world of difference.

I would really appreciate thoughts and advice on this and happy to provide any further insight if required.


Breaking-up over lack of intense physical attraction?

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"We enjoy doing the same things and spend nearly all our time together." Unfortunately this doesn't solve everything. Attraction isn't about compatibility. Yes, you both need to share common stuff, but this isn't a friend you choose, this is someone you have to look with admiration to the rest of your life, especially when you are thinking of the future.

To help you, imagine the kind of woman that makes you go out of your mind, what kind of looks she needs to possess, don't think about your current partner, think about in general, what is it you find irresistible? This might shed some light into why you are not attracted to her as much as you would like.

Or is she less attractive to you because you have her, and you can't be sure if a future with one person is what you are looking for? Because physical attributes aren't always the definition of attraction. It is more likely a characteristic you want to see in her, but it isn't there.

Okay, you admire her, and don't want to let her go. But the key parts about her, you don't like. Which is interesting, this girl is opposite of me, I love working out and putting on make-up and I enjoy spending time with this, but guys who were with me before, they didn't like these sorts of stuff.

"if she did these things “for me” she would hate herself and it needs to come from her internally". I like her about this. She respects herself and very open about things. Maybe instead of pushing her, you should give her more reasons to look pretty, put more effort on your part. As in going out to fancy restaurants or different things I can't think of right now. For me, I like to see a guy to look pretty as much as me, and spend time on his appearance, and this gives me more energy and desire to look better.

If these don't work, you have to keep in mind, you might be attracted to her because she is your opposite, and has a simple beauty without all the fancy stuff. Are you ashamed of her against the public? This might not be what you feel alone with her, but when you are with others. If that is the case, maybe you are ashamed of yourself since you said you feel bad, but looks aren't all that important to everyone. If you can't get over this, you will resent her for the rest of your life.

There it is, "I hate how much “hotness” matters to me." You have to face this, deal with this. You have to accept who you are, if you don't, no one will accept this for you. And you will resent them for it.

Don't confuse your past relationships with your current one. Not every person is the same, and not every relationship will give you the same feelings. But physical attraction isn't temporary, and it isn't about being young. It might fade, if it does, it is more about who you are as a person, than looks.

Don't try to change her, try to understand what it is you want and who you are in a relationship. It is so hard to see who you are in a relationship. This might help.

Breaking-up over lack of intense physical attraction?

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Hi Problemsurfer,

Thanks for your detailed response. Really appreciate it. The questions you ask are good ones some of which I have asked myself already previously but it really helped to consciously ask them of myself as opposed to just have them float around. Below my responses.

Yes, that exercise is mostly depressing and makes it quite clear as to why things are the way they are

No definitely not that I am confident it is just looks plain and simple. This is also why this is so hard for me because if it were anything else/on top leaving would be easy.

She is pretty much the opposite of most girls I know/have known which is another reason this drives me so mad. I think I am probably “more of a girl” than her in terms of caring about appearance/clothes etc. The interesting thing and one reason why I am still holding on to hope is that actually I was very much like her 10 years ago. I didn’t care at all about these things and actively disliked them. The thing that changed me was my first girlfriend. She was insanely pretty and I wanted to “match her” so I started caring going to the gym etc and I loved it and sort of been trying to do it ever since. So I am sort of hoping maybe one day she will discover things too but as the years pass and the failed attempts/bad experiences pile up I am losing hope.

We actually go out a lot especially for fancy meals but she rarely bothers. The other thing is because she doesn’t do make-up often when she does it she is all self-conscious how it looks and that sort of ruins things to. On this note quite early in our relationship we went to a department store and she had it all done professionally and she loved the end result. I even then ended up buying her ~100$ worth of product. The issue is she isn’t bothered to put the time and effort in to learn and because she does it so infrequently well it never works. It’s a self perputating cycle and again I would hate for her to spend hours in the bathroom hating life and wouldn’t want that for her.

She is actually not my opposite outside of the “appearance” department. We enjoy the same intellectual pursuits as me. She is frightfully intelligent hard working, successful career wise etc. What attracts me to her are these qualities its almost like the “reverse” stereotype where often hot girls are attracted to men because of these things though I sort of want to know whether they actually just ignore the looks side or genuinely don’t care/overshadow by the other qualities. She pretty much organizes all our life and finances too. By that I don’t mean she pays for everything but just that she sorts things and works out who pays what to which bills at which time and I kind of feel safe and looked after by her

As for being ashamed: Yes especially at the beginning I was very much so and that was heart breaking. To be honest since then things have improved massively as she started doing “simple things” like buying new fitting clothes every so often which made a real difference. However despite all this it’s still far from what I “want” and basically just has been “good enough” to keep it going all these years.

Yes, I suppose I do. I am coming to terms with it slowly which is sort of why I started this thread and am seriously considering giving up on this current situation as I feel deep down like I will never be “truly” happy in this arrangement.

That is an interesting point. Personality wise they are completely different last gf was a complete extrovert “girly girl” and I loved her/it. I think I just want some of that energy and extrovert liveliness to complement my slightly introvert nature. This is actually probably the thing my current GF does not complement me in any way we are basically the same personality wise and only differ on “superficial” things.

I really am not trying to change her as I know it wouldn’t work. I am hoping she might change/find it in herself some-day but as I said I am losing hope.
The other thing is that I keep on hoping I might “grow up” and stop caring and just think about the happy stable life/family I have with her because there is no doubt that it would be “lovely”.

New thought:

I am still not sure but I think as time passes it becomes clear to me that I probably just have to risk it make this hard heart-breaking decision and see if I can find happiness. In the past I have often hesitated due to logistics/complications and straight up fear of being alone again. I have now processed what it would mean. I know it would be hard and my life will become less comfortable/fun/easy especially in the short-term I just really am afraid of messing it all up for no good reason.

Thanks again,

Breaking-up over lack of intense physical attraction?

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I hope it works out for the better...

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