People in relationships describe their partner’s qualities differently at different stages of their relationships. Near the beginning of the relationship the partner is described as attractive. Some time past, he or she may be described as being dull. Later in the relationship the couple may perceive each other as average. Is there a fixed pattern? What are the factors behind it?
In the June 2007 issue of the “Journal of Marital and Family -” Joseph B. Trainer, professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Oregon Medical School, categorizes marital stages into “early”, “middle” and “advanced” when considering sexual incompatibility.
In the “early” stage, there is little sexual incompatibility while the following issues are observed:
- sexual drive level
- depletion and tiredness
- relational images
In the “middle” stage, individual differences and sexual complaints showing, the following are observed:
- estrangement, disaffection, hostility, isolation, division, separation, unfriendliness
- career and child rearing issues
- issues about truthfulness, suspiciousness, paranoid ideations
In the “advanced” stage, feelings accustomed, the past issues remain and interact with the following to increase incompatibilities:
- loss of sexual drive – libido as a result of aging
- loss of sexual drive – libido as a result of medical conditions and medications
Any novelty can attract the senses. This may not be different when attracted to the “new” physical features of a partner in the early stages of relationships. Attractiveness may depend on other factors besides external physical features. Besides the external hip, waist, shoulder ratios, size of breast and eyes, dilated pupils, pheromones, and the distance between the chin to the upper lip, the androgens, past experience, mental images and energy level contribute to affect the attraction, then affecting the sexual or love feelings.
Accustomed to the physical by mid stage, the couple’s attention turns to the tedious and lifeless details, with too much information to process- the dinginess and drabness, the nukes and crannies on the skin, murky careers, the gray areas of parenting, and paranoia about extramarital affairs. Added up the super mind flattens the feelings into dullness.
Sex drive reduced with aging, a-tonic effects of medications, and having become used to feelings may combine to “narrow” the perception of sexual attractiveness towards the average. Couples in long-term relationships may describe one another as average because of these factors.