This post is a response to Sunshine Mary’s thread titled Is it possible to generate sexual attraction in a marriage where there has never been any? I’m going to try and answer that question, and hopefully clear up a few things in the process. Here is the central question that she asked:
But let’s say there is a situation, however rare, where a woman has married a man to whom she is not sexually attracted at all. Is there anything that can be done by either the husband or the wife to create attraction where there was none to begin with?
I would say that the answer is yes. Both the husband and the wife can help “create” attraction where there was none before. It is possible to create a spark in order to get the fire started. Although I would say that only the husband can generate attraction. Before I explain further, some clarification is required.
I noticed there was a lot of confusion over the meaning and use of words like attraction and arousal. I’m sure that other manospherians have their own definitions of these terms, so I’m going to briefly explain how I use the words in order that the rest of this make sense.
Attraction- Refers to sexual attraction. A good description would be sex appeal.
Attractive- Short for sexually attractive. Signifies an individual whom a member of the opposite sex would be willing to have sex with.
Arousal- A state of sexual excitement.
Desirable- An attractive individual who also possesses certain character and personality traits that members of the opposite sex want in a mate.
See here for ideas on what men find attractive and desirable in a woman.
There are two different approaches here: the women making her husband more attractive in her eyes, and the husband making himself more attractive in his wife’s eyes. The LAMPS formula provides some guidelines on how either process would work, as it explains what features women find attractive in men. Raising the value of one of those categories increases a man’s overall attractiveness to women.
In order to “create” attraction where there was none before, a man needs to move from “unattractive” in his wife’s eyes to “attractive.” In my post Romantic Architecture I provided a graphic showing how this might look:
The goal is for the husband to move from below his wife’s attraction floor to above it. That means increasing his effective LAMPS “score” in his wife’s eyes to a level where she will be sexually attracted to him. Athol Kay’s MAP is one example of how a man can go about this. Working out, getting a higher status, better paid job and becoming more masculine are all critical steps in a man becoming more attractive.
Something from Nothing
Some of the commenters at Sunshine Mary’s blog seem to think that you can’t create attraction from nothing. But this is what happens with every man that a woman encounters. He starts off as a blank slate to her, and as time passes she will evaluate his attractiveness and decide how he measures up. Given the hypergamous nature of women, it doesn’t make sense to presume that men start off attractive in the eyes of a woman. No, the only logical conclusion is that they start off
unattractive indifferent[NSR has pointed out that the word Indifferent is a superior choice here, and I agree] and then are rated upward.
The problem that an unattractive husband faces is that his wife has a highly developed evaluation of where he fits on her “scale” of male attractiveness. Essentially, his position has hardened over time. Even if he raises his LAMPS values, he will be fighting against that deep seated impression of him that she holds. This means that he will have to work harder to raise his attractiveness in his wife’s eyes than would be the case for another woman who doesn’t know him as well.
Of course, that assumes there was no attraction to begin with. In the graphic above there was a very clear line separating attractive from unattractive. I’m not convinced that the line is actually like that in real life. It could be that in reality there is no distinct point separating the two, but instead a blurry region of uncertainty where a man might be somewhat attractive. At such a point he might or might not be able to arouse a woman, with outside environmental factors making the difference (alcohol, where she is in her cycle). Or it could be that it is the man’s position which is uncertain, with him occupying not a discrete point but falling within a certain region that might nor might not cross the line from unattractive to attractive. At this point I can only speculate.
Attraction v. Arousal
I wanted to really quickly distinguish between how attraction and arousal work for men and women.
The male arousal threshold is lower than the male attraction threshold. A man can be aroused by a woman to whom he is not attracted. For a visual understanding:
The “not unattractive” region would be one where a man might not necessarily find a woman attractive, but might still be aroused by her. Since men can be aroused fairly easily by certain stimuli (especially visual and tactile), even a woman who is below his standard attraction floor can arouse him. In fact, I suspect that you could rename the “not unattractive” floor to “arousal” floor without affecting its accuracy.
Women, on the other hand, have an arousal threshold that is higher than their attraction threshold. This means that, barring extreme circumstances, a woman can only get aroused (think Tingles) by a man that she finds attractive. The more attractive the man is, the easier it is for him to arouse her. This plays into why there are two types of duty sex. There is duty sex where the woman is attracted to her husband, and duty sex where she is not. If she is attracted to her husband than it is just a matter of him arousing her during their conjugal relations in order for her to enjoy it. When she isn’t attracted to her husband, I suspect that he cannot arouse her during intercourse, and as a result she cannot enjoy it. In fact, the experience is probably quite unpleasant for her, because any physical pleasure she receives is more than offset by her mental/emotional distress at having intercourse with an unattractive man. This link between attraction and arousal in women is why duty sex is a “hard sell” to wives who aren’t attracted to their husband.
Submission and Attraction
Here is what Sunshine Mary said about submission’s role in attraction:
If a woman decides that she is going to train herself to see her man as sexually appealing, what she needs to do is view herself as his subordinate in the relationship. If she sees herself as being owned by him, as having a duty to obey him and serve him in all ways, including sexually, that increases his relative power in the relationship without his having to do anything. I am not talking about D/s role-playing, either, a subject about which I know very little. I am talking about a radical transformation in how she views herself in relation to her husband. Feminine submission to masculine authority generates sexual attraction in the same way that game does – by changing the power dynamic in the relationship.
I think that she is on the right track here. When a wife submits to her husband’s authority, she can alter her attraction to him. It is not so much that she (or he) is generating attraction, but that she is recalibrating her attraction filters to him and him alone. Two things are happening: she is changing her status in relation to his, and she is magnifying the effects of his Masculine Power.
The hypergamous nature of women means that a mans Status value depends not only on his overall position in society, but also his position and authority in relation to the individual woman. By submitting to her husband, a wife lowers her position relative to his, and enhances his Status value in her eyes. This makes him more attractive, which makes it easier for her to submit to him in the first place. As for Power, as a general rule the more submissive a woman is, the more feminine her nature will be. This will contrast more strongly with the Masculine Power of her husband, boosting it in her eyes.
By itself I don’t think that this is enough in most cases. While she can magnify her husbands Status and Power in her eyes, he still has to have a certain amount to begin with in order for it to move him from unattractive to attractive. If he is close to the line to begin with, than submission might make all of the difference. Certainly if she has the opposite attitude it stands to reason it would lower his attractiveness in her eyes, and so fixing it might boost him above the floor. I should note that there is also the risk that a wife who doesn’t submit, when faced with a more attractive husband (who will naturally have to be more assertive as well) will rebel against him. The power shift in her relationship threatens her, and fear may induce her to actively fight her husband in whatever manner she can.
Yes, it is possible to generate attraction where there was none before. It isn’t easy, and will take a long time for the husband to chip away at his wife’s impression of him. But it can be done, both by him improving himself and boosting his LAMPS values, and by his wife adopting a submissive attitude.
Ballista has challenged my “blank slate” idea of how women rate men as attractive. His words:
The issue is not “creating attraction from nothing” as she frames it, but “creating attraction from disgust”. To clarify the definition, disgust is the exact opposite of attraction. Many marriages exist for reasons other than attraction, namely because women can’t have the bull alphas (or apex alphas as you put it).
In other words, this woman didn’t start with a blank slate (and actually women almost never do – their own perceptions color men they deal with from second one with a man). She came to look at the peon beta with disgust because she couldn’t have her very own apex alpha. But her baby rabies, or the need to have status with the herd caused her to settle for this lesser man that repulses her the moment she looks at him.
What Ballista is proposing is a different idea on how attraction works for women. Rather than being a 1-10 scale, it is more akin to the -10 to 10 scale that Deep Strength has discussed at different occasions. Here is a visualization of this:
While I think that such a model has merit, I disagree with him that once a man enters the disgust phase, he can’t claw his way back out. However, I must acknowledge that both of us are speculating here. There aren’t any studies which have ever covered this to be the best of my knowledge. And as Deep Strength has pointed out, most marriages that enter the negative territory tend to dissolve quickly. So testing out which of us is correct is something that nigh-well impossible to accomplish.
Perhaps Ballista is correct that women who “come into marriages with bitter hearts and that bitterness comes out in disgust towards the sorry victim of her rage,” cannot change their impression of their husband. I’m not convinced he is correct. But I have to acknowledge that he might be. Which again explains why I am very discerning when it comes to a potential wife.
Update 2: Ballista has written a post in response to this thread and its comments.