Dear Harlan: Is it possible to develop a physical attraction while dating someone? I’ve been seeing a guy for a couple of months. He is everything I could hope for on paper. He’s in medical school. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. He has a great family. He treats me better than any guy I’ve dated. He talks about the future and how much he likes me. I want to be more physically attracted to him. I’m not ready to give up on this yet. Can something like this change over time? How long should I give it?
Dear Waiting: Physical attraction shouldn’t be this much work. As licensed clinical social worker Ken Page writes on his Psychology Today blog: “We can’t force our sexual attractions. Most of us have learned that the hard way.” You can love being with someone and love their company, but if you don’t want to kiss them, it’s not going to magically happen. This isn’t just about wanting to want someone, there’s biology involved. Your body reacts to sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Your mind and body are programmed to tell you this. Regardless, you can still love this man, marry this man and even have a family with this man. These are all things that can happen. But you might never feel the physical attraction you desire. This may or may not matter to you. Give yourself more time to develop a meaningful relationship. Develop a deeper emotional connection. See if the physical relationship evolves. The infatuation or lust phase tends to last about 18 months. After that, all relationships will change. You just might be in a relationship that never has an infatuation phase. See how it feels and let me know. If you’re still not into him in a year, you’ll have your answer.