I love my wife but, at 32, am no longer attracted to her

5 Feb 2024

"Dear Kenny,

I love my wife but am no longer attracted to her. We met at school at 16 and have been together half our lives. I’ve found myself turning to porn to get aroused, which I know would upset her if she knew. We’re talking about having a family in the future, but how can I spend the next 50 years with someone who I find less and less sexy?"

Richard, 32

‘I’d recommend you reframe the idea that a successful relationship lasts for ever,’ says Kenny (Photo: Malte Mueller/Getty Images)

There’s a myth that attraction wanes in long-term relationships. It’s rarely true: attraction is much more likely to reflect how happy you both are within your relationship, regardless of time. Honesty, open communication, admiration and love all affect it. While those who’ve spent decades together might be unlikely to have sex three times a day, it tends to evolve from not being able to keep your hands off each other to become stronger, deeper, and often more sensual.

I wonder whether you no longer find your wife attractive, or whether it’s worth considering if you simply don’t see her any more – through being ever-present she’s almost become invisible? Also, because you haven’t had a chance to have other girlfriends, this might suggest you’re wondering whether the grass is greener elsewhere? Do bear in mind, sometimes the grass is greenest where you water it.

If you’re talking about having children, your relationship may be moving into a new stage: from childhood sweethearts to creating an established, loving home, with dependents or not. Do you feel she’d be a good mother? And you a good father? I wonder if you’re finding that evolution worrisome. It’s possible you’re fearing missing out, growing up and accepting your lot.


Does your wife know your thoughts and has she noticed your withdrawal? Communication is imperative, and I wonder if you’ve spoken frankly about love, commitment, worries, and what you do and don’t find attractive in each other. Many couples over-think and fear within relationships, rather than speak openly.

You might find it helpful to write down the mature lifestyle you’d like. Also, write down your fears: how are you scared of being trapped? What are you scared of losing? If you share wishes and fears, you might find honesty removes the pressure you’re feeling – and might even reignite  passion. Do consider seeing a couples’ counsellor to explore both of your needs, at this threshold to the next phase of your life.


If you’re not finding your wife attractive, is there a certain type of woman who appeals? It’s worth considering why – and how that makes you feel: whether it’s age, power, the way they operate in the world, how they carry themselves. Is this something you can bring into your relationship, perhaps through experimentation with role play?

I wonder if you’ve run into problems of comparison, which are frequently heightened by social media, which tells us  we’re not good enough, not appealing enough, not with an attractive enough woman, not stylish enough – and certainly not popular enough – unless we buy certain things, look a certain way and have a certain public status. I’d urge you not to compare your wife to social media-polished or porn-curated versions of humans, just as it’s important not to compare yourself. It’s damaging to self-acceptance and self-worth.

I would recommend taking time and space to reflect. Why not go away with a trusted friend or couple of friends to talk this through? You might find they’ve had similar fears.


In our men’s groups, many people have felt concerned about waning attraction: one client needed time to himself, away from routine, so he could gain a greater sense of his needs.

Another went walking for a few days: he missed his partner and felt all the things he loved about them; he’d simply outgrown their lifestyle and was ready to change gear. Yet another identified that having children left him concerned that it closed the door on potential one-night stands, even though he’d never had any – and had no desire for casual sex.

It’s also worth considering  the possibility your relationship has run its course. I’d recommend you reframe the idea that a successful relationship lasts for ever. In fact, you’ve already become adults together: this is beautiful and worth celebrating – and means that if your issues cannot be resolved, then you can separate consciously and kindly, cherishing the love you hold for each other.


While many adults use porn, it doesn’t sound as if it is serving  you well. Is it affecting your ability to get aroused with your wife? It provides a quick fix of images over which you have absolute control because you can change what’s on screen at any moment; totally different from real life where you are sexual, sensual, intimate and out-of-control with a real human.

Cambridge University studies show that the more people use porn, the more they crave it. Many men find the control – and dopamine hits porn brings – keeps them coming back. I’d recommend you stop porn use and move back into endorphins and human connection.

Have you asked your wife how she gets turned on? Be present, slow down and remember that foreplay is sex. You might have the chance to grow deeper in  sensuality by learning what works for each of you sexually.

I’d urge you to take time before making any life-changing decisions.

Your love story may still be in the making: it’s up to you to make it more Michelle and Barack than Homer and Marge.