Can a relationship without initial physical attraction ever work out?

Are you just not feeling it? (Picture: Getty/

The movies we grew up watching left us thinking the early days in relationships should be filled with flying sparks and desire so intense that you must tear each other’s clothes off at any given moment.

Sometimes, relationships are like this.

But other times they’re not. Everything else is wonderful, but that initial attraction just isn’t there.

This isn’t a new issue by any means, but recently, Shake and Deepti’s story on Love Is Blind has brought the problem into the spotlight.

Can you ever have a successful romantic relationship if that animalistic physical attraction just isn’t there? Is this an issue that can be worked on? Or is it doomed from the get-go?

Can a relationship work without initial physical attraction

Kate Moyle, a sex and relationships expert for sexual wellness brand Lelo, says fear not – connections that aren’t immediately physical can work out.

She says: ‘Attraction can happen in numerous ways, physical attraction being one element, but others being connection, joint interests, communication, care, touch, attention.

‘Researchers have even shown that prolonged eye contact can have a positive impact on feelings of connection.

‘These things can all be built on and nurtured and don’t have to be there instantly.

‘We see examples of this happening such as when long-term friends fall in love and have successful relationships, where there wasn’t a sexual attraction previously.’

Getting to know someone without that burning need to get under the covers doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t valid.

It’s likely that at some point in your adult life, someone grew on you over time and for one reason or other, you saw them in a different light. This is a similar issue.

Sexual attraction can grow, just as a deeper understanding of each other can.

 couple embracing each other on sunny daySexual attraction can grow over time (Picture: Getty Images/Westend61)

How can you build physical and sexual attraction?

It might be a case of time and becoming more comfortable together, but other things can help speed up the process.

Kate suggests: ‘Focus on what is working, and lean into the other ways that you can establish intimacy and connection.

‘We can’t tell what the sexual experiences will be like with a person by looking at them as it’s made up of multiple components such as touch, sensuality, preference and communication, and you may find that this sexual side of the relationship is a slow burn.

‘If you are truly open to giving the relationship a go then you have to try and be open minded and really give it a chance, as if you are holding onto an idea that it won’t or can’t work then that can colour your perspective.

‘Of course not all relationships work or work out, and there is also no failure in that – couple fit has many components and not all relationships are successful, satisfactory or built to last.’

You need to also consider what your personal needs are and how important this element is.

Can you be patient? Can you try other things? Are your wants and needs being met? Only you can know what’s right.

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When should you draw the line?

Having said all that, you can’t force yourself to feel attraction if it simply isn’t there.

‘There is no set formula or timeline but often when you feel that you are trying to make something work, it’s important to consider what you are getting out of it,’ Kate says.

‘Relationships move through phases and stages and that’s normal, but a general sense of feeling happy and secure is important.

‘Many people also have successful relationships without sex being a big part of it, so it’s important when thinking about your relationship that it’s about what’s working or not working for you, and not how you think that you “should” feel based on the narratives about relationships that are around you.’

Ways to build better sexual chemistry

  • Show and tell: Tell each other tactfully what you do and don’t like, guide each other during sex and show how you enjoy being touched. It’ll likely be a turn-on for your partner and create a safe space in which to be honest.
  • Use toys: Invest in a sex toy together and have fun experimenting.
  • Open up: Share fantasies with each other – you don’t have to do them, but talking about sex outside of the act can help build anticipation.
  • New positions: If sex feels stale and repetitive, suggest trying a new angle.

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