April 20, 2009

Q&A: Body Type, Exercise And Physical Attraction

A reader wonders if she can become attracted to her husband again after his weight gain.

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Question: I’m no longer attracted to my husband because of his heavy weight. I get turned on by men who take care of themselves and workout, which my husband doesn’t. Since I’m no longer attracted to him, we don’t have sex. Can I fix this?

Many people find that they are attracted to people with certain body types and there is nothing wrong or unusual about finding that you are attracted to men who work out.

Given this preference, it’s not surprising that your attraction to your husband may be impaired if he doesn’t have the body type that you prefer or engage in the types of physical exercise behaviors that feel most exciting or arousing to you.

Obsessing Over Small Details

That doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to re-ignite the desire and attraction that you once had for your husband. Some people find that what bothers them about their partner – in your case, your husband’s weight – is something that actually started out to be a small detail.

Over time, however, people sometimes focus so heavily on this small detail that they lose sight of all the good things about their partner and their obsession with the upsetting small detail ends up hurting one’s sexual relationship.

In other words, one possibility is that you may be focusing or thinking about your husband’s weight so much that it’s gotten to the point that his weight is one of the more salient details about him to you. It may be one of the first things that you think about when you think about being sexual with him – and, since it’s not an attractive quality in your mind, that’s not helpful to your desire.

One strategy might be to try focusing on other details that are attractive to you. Does he care for you in a way that you always wanted? Is he good with your friends or family? Does he smile at you in a way that makes you feel desirable or sexy? In other words, when the bad thoughts sneak up on you, what attractive qualities of his can you use to replace these negative thoughts?

Improve Your Fitness Together

You might also consider ways in which you can both maintain or improve your fitness levels for health reasons, with the possibility of enhanced sexual attraction as an added bonus.

If your husband is interested in improving his fitness, perhaps you two can start walking after dinner together which would provide you both with time to exercise as well as time to re-connect. You might even encourage him to join a basketball league or a golf team so that he can have time to hang out with friends while simultaneously getting exercise.

Further Reading and Resources

Some sex therapists believe that making sure two people each have some private time or some space between them can enhance their desire for each other – you can read more about this concept in the book Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel.

Sexual desire can often be enhanced and while these strategies may be worth a try, so might making an appointment with a sex therapist who can provide you with more personalized feedback about desire-enhancing strategies and your relationship. You can find a sex therapist through the web site of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research.