Feel No Sexual Spark for Boyfriend

Dear Dr. Patti:

I have a really nice, nice boyfriend. He really is sweet and has a good heart. The problem is that I don't feel any "spark" at all and am not attracted to him sexually; I have completely shut down when it comes to sex. This is new for me; before this, sex was never a problem. He and I have been building a life together, and on other levels things are pretty good. He and I have talked extensively and openly about my sexual feelings, and we are both eager to figure out how to make things better. Do you think it may all come down to chemistry? Can something be done, or do I just go on in an otherwise good relationship without being sexually fulfilled?

-- M


Dear M:

Whether attraction can be induced or created is an age-old question. Certainly the long-standing interest in aphrodisiacs shows we'd all like to believe that sexual chemistry can be induced where it doesn't spontaneously arise. But there may be something deeper than a lack of champagne and oysters damping the sparks with your boyfriend. For example, you may be following a pattern in yourself to avoid intimacy and sex in one person. If that's the case, it's time for therapy to break down the old messages that stop you from lusting after the one you also love. This pattern is found more commonly in men, as in their socialization they often see the object of their sexual pursuit as just that, a thing, rather than a personalized, involved part of their emotional landscape. For you, however, as a woman, perhaps childhood issues get in the way of real, adult-level closeness on both physical and emotional planes.

Here are some other points to consider. First, something other than his body attracted you to this mate: his social status, his voice, his looks, his way of walking, his personality, his values, his way of looking at the world or at you. You can try to bypass the lack of mental and emotional attraction you feel and go right for touch. I suggest you and your honey practice sensual activities together to find that physical connection. Perhaps long, languorous bathing rituals or massages on a beach or grassy knoll, where nature can add her special touch, may jump-start your primal interest in this special guy.

Research has indicated that often what creates animal attraction is taken in through the nose; all species emit pheromones, sexual attractants fly through the air and into the nose. Explore some of the scents on the market in that department. Your biological imperative may be overriding your mind and social needs, so try to tempt it into thinking along with the rest of you that this, indeed, is your Mr. Right.