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What Men Are Attracted To - It's Not What You Think


Look at What Men Are Attracted ToPart 2 of 2

Let's find out what men are attracted to.  Brianna told Guy Stuff that "my husband is not physically attracted to me."  In the first article of this series we responded to her cry for help by exploring some of the reasons why this may be happening.  Take a quick look at the first post to hear her story and some possible causes -- "My Husband Is Not Physically Attracted to Me" Mr. Marriage Counselor.  Now let's look at what men are attracted to.

As we look into attraction, particularly as it affects sexual intimacy within a relationship, an important truth for us to remember is that sexual intimacy is a reflection of the relationship.  When the relationship is poor, the sexual intimacy is typically poor.  It's not surprising then that sexual problems are one of the big marriage problems.

Let’s take a look at a couple I’m working with in marriage counseling, Wes and Nicole (not their real names), and see some ways their relationship is affecting the physical attraction.  Nicole has the same complaint as Brianna -- "My Husband Is Not Physically Attracted to Me."  And she can't understand why either.

One of biggest marriage problems for Nicole is the lack of physical affection from Wes.  She craves having him touch her, even just simply holding her hand.  I really can’t describe well enough how much of a need this is for her.  She’s not getting it from Wes and it’s killing her.

What Nicole is unable to see, so far, is that there are several reasons why physical affection from Wes is not happening.  Like all of us, it's easy for Nicole to see the things Wes is doing that are making things worse, but she’s blind to the things she does too.

What men are attracted to, and not attracted to, can be seen in some examples of how Nicole interacts with Wes.  Wes has told me pointedly that he’s not physically attracted to Nicole for some of these reasons:

  • She only talks about the things he does wrong and needs to change, but never does the same about herself.
  • She uses phrases like “I would never do that…”  She doesn’t see it, but she’s constantly building herself up and putting him down.
  • When he shares something with her she doesn’t just listen.  She always tells him what she would do, or worse yet, what she would have done differently.

These are really big turnoffs for Wes, which is really understandable.  After all, why would he be attracted to someone who makes him feel bad?  Obviously, feeling bad is not what men are attracted to.  The problem for Nicole is that the more she tries to get closer to Wes, because of how she goes about it, the more she pushes him away.

A lot of women focus on their physical appearance as the secret to what men are attracted to.  But I can’t tell you how many men have told me that they’re so turned off by their partner’s behavior that appearance never even gets considered. 

Ladies, here’s a big secret – what men are attracted to is praise, validation, and respect.  If your man isn’t physically attracted to you, just like Brianna and Nicole, take a look at how well you’re doing with these 3 things.

Brianna said ,“he claims I need to work on "my problems" before we can work on any marriage problems. I admit I have problems that should be dealt with via counseling, but that is separate. We can work on the marriage at the same time.”  Brianna, sometimes you really can’t work on them at the same time.

Brianna’s husband maybe blowing her off by telling her she needs to work on her problems, but maybe not.  It’s possible that for Brianna, just like Nicole, she needs to first work on changing herself before she can work on the marriage problems

Here's an important message for both women and men, learn from this example what men are attracted to, and take an honest look at how your behavior might not be attractive to your mate.

* This is the second article of two discussing the issues of when a husband is not physically attracted to his wife and what men are attracted to.  Take a look at the first article -- "My Husband Is Not Physically Attracted To Me" Mr. Marriage Counselor.  Be sure to Sign-up for our Counseling Men Blog on the right and don't miss the next article.


I could not disagree with this article more. And I am surprised that a therapist would suggest that a man withholding sex and affection is the woman's fault - especially when this very site has a section dealing with emotional abusers and how they withhold affect/intimacy in order to punish their partners! I just hope this isn't the first page some poor, frazzled woman finds when she finally becomes brave enough to reach out for help!
Posted @ Saturday, December 11, 2010 10:27 PM by Shocked reader
I saw the headline, and thought to myself, "this is going to be good", just some kind of nonsense. 
You were absolutely so dead-on in your assessment it is scary.
Posted @ Monday, January 03, 2011 9:53 PM by reader
Hi I have am not familiar with this practice of asking and getting answers to my questions.But I have great hope that I get some answers to my problem. 
I am married for the last twenty five years and have two handsome teenage sons.ours is a love marriage. 
My husband and I struggled tremeneously in meeting our financial needs after marraiage for around five years. 
My husband went out for further studies while I looked after our children.He comleted his studies and got a good job abroad at the same time I was working back at home and looking after our children. 
My husband used to come and see us in four to five months.After a year or two I came to know that he was dating around women and was also always looking for girls from the net.( I read his mails) 
Then I decided to live my job and go with him with the boys. 
After a year or two even when I was with him he would continue doing the same.Looking for girls online chatting and opening new accounts to hid the mail and so on. 
I have caught him chat with women and promising them suns and stars. 
Everytime I caught him doing it, I talked to him about how much it hurts me and what sacrifices I have made to be with him.He pleads guilty and swears in the name of children and my love for him not to do it again and to change for the family. 
Even after twentyfive years of marraige he doesnt seem to change. 
What is the best thing for me to do at this stage.I am not working today.
Posted @ Thursday, February 24, 2011 9:50 AM by simi
When a man refuses to touch you because your explanation of the issue isn't perfect in his eyes or the wording makes him "feel bad", then he is underlining his authority. It has nothing to do with "attraction" and everything to do with power. Some men are only aroused when they are in control of the situation. This type of behavior, exchanging affection for their partner's verbal and mental silence, is abuse.  
My husband often says hurtful things without realizing it or communicates in an imperfect way. However, this never means that I withhold affection. He gives me the same leeway. We communicate, not retaliate. If it is otherwise, it is a deeply inequitable relationship. 
As for the woman, with the cheating spouse, find a good divorce lawyer and a support group. You cannot change him at this point. He is a lost cause. Leave him and learn to be happy again.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 01, 2011 11:40 AM by River Josephson
@Shocked Reader: you're missing the point of this article. The husband in this article isn't deliberately with holding affection to control and punish his wife in order to achieve his own agenda or boost his ego. That would be the definition of emotional abuse.  
Instead, the husband is being authentic in behaving honestly. One can't with hold something that one truly doesn't have to begin with. The truth is that he has toxic feelings toward his wife (due to the way she treats him). Intimacy is an expression of love. If you no longer love your partner or if you in fact have vile feelings towards them, how can you show intimacy to them except by faking it and basically being dishonest to their faces? How is that any better? Just because two people are married doesn't mean that there is love between them. Intimacy and touch are expressions of love, they do not in and of themselves create love where otherwise there would be none. 
Posted @ Saturday, May 07, 2011 5:41 AM by H.B.
I am so sick, sick, sick of sites written by men who tell women to consider their "validation,respect and whatever bs they can think of". When will men start to be accountable for themselves as adults? Why is it that the women have to make all the effort to "understand" men and conform to that? Even in the face of blatant betrayal. Personally, I am sick of it.
Posted @ Tuesday, June 07, 2011 7:42 PM by Heidi
I often find myself guilty of these things that are discussed in the article. I say things like "I would never do that" and I honestly tell my husband that he didn't make the wisest choices at work. But here's where I'd like to get Mr. Smith's help. I feel the need to be honest with my husband and tell the truth. If he tells me about a situation at work, I tell him what he did wrong. I can't "just listen" because I feel the need to help him be the best he can be. That advice is constructive and I say it out of love. I don't say hurtful things like "that was stupid" - I just say "probably a better way to approach that would have been...." And I can be guilty of focusing on areas where he needs to improve, but if I don't tell him what's wrong, how will it ever change? If there was nothing good about him, I wouldn't be in the relationship at all! I'm just trying to point out things he can do to improve himself. Like being a better father to his step-son, helping out more around the house (without waiting to be told of course) and being more affectionate and sympathetic to my problems. According to your logic, I am turning him off by being honest and loving and helpful in a practical way. You know when your kids do something wrong, you correct them. Not becaause you don't love them - but because you DO. You don't want strangers to think badly of them or hurt them because of their behavior. It's a kind of loyalty with which you correct them. You try to modify the behavior out of love. Why wouldn't the same apply for your husband?! I would like Mr. Smith to explain this to me.  
And is this really the reason that my husband is now experiencing psychological erectile dysfunction at the age of 34? He has been to doctors and they've ruled out all physical ailments. Suddenly he just can't perform and also has no desire. When I beg and plead and tell him I'm desperate he tries very hard to perform but fails - obviously because he's doing it out of some sense of obligation, not his own real desire. What should I do? I feel if I stop providing constructive criticism I will not be myself anymore - I'll be lying and dishonest and I won't be communicating my feelings anymore. Your advice please. What advice did you give to the girl in your story?!
Posted @ Thursday, July 14, 2011 12:27 PM by Guilty and Need Help
River - Then what is it when a women witholds sex from her husband, is that abuse too? 
I was in a marriage where I was verbally abused by my wife, where I was manipulated and humiliated at every turn. 
Theer are comunication problems and then there is abuse, a big difference and it happens to men AND women. Anyone who simply thinks that women are alwasy the innocent is living in fantasy land.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 27, 2011 5:29 AM by Simon
I LOVE THIS ARTICLE! I think River misunderstood what Kurt was trying to say about "feeling bad." He meant that women sometimes get so caught up about how they are feeling with themselves and there situations that they don't indulge in how their partner is doing or feeling. Sometimes you just need to listen, no advice or further questioning or cutting in with your own self doubt. Not just once but everyday. Remember, when talking with your partner, he is not one of your girlfriends. Validating that his side of your lives together makes him feel like you truly interested in him. Sorta like, when you first met, you spent so much time trying to get to know what was going on in each other lives, in every aspect! He felt like you were attracted to him enough to indulge, and he reciprocated. Get it! Get back to it! I know you will find the Validation You Yourself Need. I speak from experience. Thanks for the reminder Kurt!
Posted @ Monday, January 30, 2012 10:16 PM by Lillie
This article is a good assessment as far as I'm concerned. Men show their love through sex and women through touch and feeling. I know when I'm explaining my needs I'm usually in a way I. Which the expectation is he should change whatever and we will grow closer. This blame usually does the opposite - pushes him away - then the vicious cycle continues. I'm hurt because I think if he cared he'd change and he thinks if she'd appreciate the good things I do I'd want to reciprocate.
Posted @ Friday, February 24, 2012 9:10 PM by Mary
Lillie, Great explanation. Thanks for writing! -Kurt
Posted @ Tuesday, March 13, 2012 6:46 PM by Kurt Smith, MFT, AFC
Hi. I've been looking for a sounding block for a while and this looks like a good blog. My wife is moving out because she says she needs to be alone for a while and she says I am verbally abusive to my 15 year old stepson. We have two children together and she tells me that she will not file custody but I think that will change. She says I'm mad all the time and maybe I am but I'm at a loss. We've been together for ten years. I worked full time and she got to stay home to be with the kids and homeschool. She went from rarely cleaning the home to never cleaning the home. She used to tell me that all I do is work but she never had a problem with me working 40-60 hrs a week and then come home and clean house. Then I found out she was having what therapists call an "emotional relationship" with someone. She says it wasn't a n affair yet she calls him her best friend. I became so stressed that I gained some weight became insulin resistant and finally impotent. I've since lost the weight but am still impotent. Haven't had sex in almost five years. She doesnt like it when I bring up that she is unhealthy and overweight, developed apnea years ago so bad we had to sleep in separate beds-thats great for intimacy! I could go on but I don't think it would matter. She is to arrogant to admit she has emotional problems and she had then way before we got married. We tried counceling and she told the therapist that things were ok or I was mad all the time. My worry is my children. They are 11 and 8. They say time heals but I dont believe it. Time just lets you hide the memories until they are triggered again. We came from different sides of the track so to speak. I came from a spiritual family...hers not so much. We did get married because we got pregnant-I got away from my upbringing in my early twenties. But there is nothing i feel I can do. There is no remedy except to let her do what she wants and let life take its course. I leave my life in Gods hands. Thanks
Posted @ Saturday, October 06, 2012 9:44 AM by Donavan
This article speaks to issues that many women don't want to face. Men DO need nurturing in ways that matter to THEM, and sex is one of the ways they have to express their longing for closeness with us. The way we want men to show us nurturing and appreciation are not necessarily the ways that work for them. We are fundamentally different in some ways; respecting the differences and listening to your partner (instead of blaming them) isn't easy, but it's vital to building and maintaining a healthy relationship. That said, there are immature men who cannot commit and make a monogamous relationship work. This doesn't apply to them. They aren't worth the effort because they won't change until they feel like it ... and the odds of that aren't worth betting the family farm on. I'm a woman and I say this from having made more than a few mistakes in my relationships. I am guilty of blaming men for things that I had some part in making happen. I like to think what I've learned from hard experience will affect my decisions in the future.
Posted @ Thursday, February 14, 2013 1:14 PM by Laura
I really glad you are online to help others. Thank you.
Posted @ Tuesday, February 19, 2013 1:50 AM by Frances Louis
Problem with women is they are so alert to misdemeanors visited upon them and blind to their own. They take, take, take most of them and dont give, even things they expect men to give when themselves can also give the same things, they still are just happy receiving. Marriage is a two way street. We need to understand our differencies in biological make up and mental frames and appreciate and accommodate these differences for marriages to work. Compromise were we are different is key.
Posted @ Friday, March 08, 2013 10:53 PM by Felex Marongedza
I understand where this article is coming from. Both men and women need to be validated and respected. But what happens when a man is sexually attracted to a woman and the woman DOES validate him in every way possible, and yet, he does not return that validation and finds someone else? There could be a lot of other factors. Relationships have to be mutual.
Posted @ Monday, April 29, 2013 3:26 AM by Anastasia Wendinder
I am amazed women are offended at by the idea a man may not want sex because he feels invalidated by his wife. Yet nothing is said when women do the same thing as a matter of course.
Posted @ Monday, May 13, 2013 2:06 PM by Luna
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