"I want to feel more attraction to my partner"

Jan 12, 2023
Choosing Your Own Emotional Experience

Choosing your own emotional experience

In my last post, I talked about why personal growth goals (or goals for therapy) need to be within one’s power to achieve. But when it comes to the experience of attraction, setting goals might seem a little bit confusing. You might wonder, if the goal is “I want to experience more attraction to my partner,” can that really be within one’s power to achieve? 

In my opinion, yes–but it takes a little bit of a perspective shift. 

In our culture, we think of attraction as something that happens to us. Someone sexy steps into the room, and we’re attracted–simple as that. That certainly reflects how it often feels, as well as the Hollywood version! But in fact, in order for you to experience attraction, something is happening inside of you, and it’s totally possible to tap into that process and gain a little more control over how and when it happens. 

When you’re waiting for attraction to happen to you, that’s a disempowered position to be in, and it’s no wonder it can end up feeling frustrated, disappointed, and stuck. The same goes for someone who, for instance, wants their partner to make them happy. However understandable their desires may be, they’re getting stuck in a disempowered stance, and missing out on the opportunity to more directly influence or create their own lives and experiences. 

My goal is to help my clients (and myself!) determine what kind of emotional experience they want to be having, and then help them develop the skills that they need in order to get there. This is an empowerment project, through and through. 

So, what does learning how to experience the emotions you want to experience involve?

The first step is setting your goal–getting clear on what you want to experience. In this case, the goal would be “I want to experience more attraction to my partner,” with the understanding that we’re talking about your internal experience, not about your partner changing in some way. (For more on that, see my last post.)

Then, you might do some reflection on the question of “when I’m experiencing attraction, what part of myself is waking up?” Is it bringing out a more fun, playful side? Is it bringing out the side of yourself that’s able to luxuriate fully in sensory pleasure? Is it an experience of freedom? If so, freedom from what?

Then you might ask yourself: how can I intentionally tap into this part of myself, whenever I want to? What kinds of thoughts and actions bring it out? 

For instance, if attraction brings forward a part of you that is playful rather than serious, you might try to find ways to experience that playful part of yourself. It’s not exactly the same as feeling attraction, but it will bring you closer than when you are feeling serious and performance focused. If feeling attraction tends to bring out the part of you that’s creative, experimental, and willing to take risks, how could you let that part of yourself come out and play with your partner? If you enjoy luxuriating fully in sensory pleasure when you feel attracted to a partner, how might you let yourself have that, simply because you want to have it, and not just as a result of something your partner does or makes happen? 

Notice this includes expanding what you want for yourself in specific ways. We’re trying to create a whole basket of things that are related to attraction, rather than the more nebulous “attraction that just happens somehow”--and each of these things should be actionable and within your control. Try and drill down into exactly what you’re hoping to experience. It is much easier to create an experience that is specific than one that is vague.

I’d also recommend paying much closer attention to your positive emotional experiences. We tend to focus on our negative emotional experiences, while letting positive ones flit away after a few seconds. (That’s what’s called a negativity bias.) To counteract that bias, start actively noticing when you’re experiencing your desired emotion. Whenever you have a moment of that feeling you’re trying to cultivate, or one that is similar or close to it, pay attention to the experience, and make it as big as you can. Stretch it out! Really luxuriate in it. Feel grateful for it, and for any circumstances that helped bring it into being.

Developing the ability to cultivate the emotional experience of your choice is deeply empowering. When good things land in your lap, you’ll still be able to enjoy them–but even when they don’t, your baseline of happiness will be much higher and you will feel more fulfilled more of the time. 

Originally published on Psychology Today.

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