The Truth Behind Why You Liked Those Embarrassing Crushes
It’s the Houdini trick of sexual attraction — now you sweat him, now you don’t! Here’s the real deal on your sudden repulsion.
Love works in mysterious ways, but one of the most perplexing of dating mysteries is how we can suddenly go from intense attraction to intense repulsion when it comes to the same guy. One day, you’re getting all sexy with him; the next, you recoil at his profile pic, feel deep embarrassment when you see him through others’ eyes, and wish you could go back in time to kick your own ass for hooking up with him.
You can experience it with two-night stands or virtual life partners, but the gist is the same: he suddenly grosses you out. Jasseigh I., 23, knew she was through with a casual fling when he Donald Ducked her: “He’d put on a tee shirt with no bottoms, and it just looked ridiculous. I saw that and was like, I’m done.”
After years of jump-your-bones passion, Amanda M.*, 23, says her sexual fire turned to ire. “I became so unattracted to him that even the way he ate was enough to make sex a non-option.” Emily S., 24, experienced the same late-onset revulsion with her last boyfriend. “His haircut started to bother me, the pet names he called me seemed gross, and I cringed at his flat-brimmed hats.”
If your once-burning desire feels like it was blasted with flame retardant, his nail clipping and Donald Ducking aren’t (entirely) to blame. “In the beginning of a relationship, we look for reasons to like someone,” says Carrie Cole, a couples therapist in the Houston area. “But if things have started to deteriorate in the relationship, we focus on our partner’s bad qualities — it’s called negative sentiment override.” NSO explains why the sudden disgust these women felt about their partners coincided with a tide of emotional issues that was bubbling under the surface of their relationships. Amanda got grossed out when her BF turned into a stage-5 clinger. “When I felt smothered, I started seeing everything he did as a turn-off.” Emily also noticed, in retrospect, that the nitpicky qualms she had with her guy were manifestations of a larger problem. “I had issues with his immaturity,” she says. “He was a man-child, so seeing that he couldn’t even get his hair cut right just reminded me that he couldn’t take care of himself.”
Sudden-onset revulsion could also be ignited by seeing someone in a new light. The guy who stole your heart as the class clown can seem like just a clown out of his original context, like when people are giving him side-eye for cracking lame jokes in the hostess line.
It must be said that if you’re a person who finds tiny issues with everyone you date, look within — this may be your way of avoiding commitment. But if you’re in a long-term relationship, you can ward off a fading attraction with a preemptive strike, by making an effort to compliment your significant other, even if it’s just in your mind. “How we think about someone affects our chemistry with them,” says Cole, and a positive attitude requires upkeep. The next time his sock pile makes you plot your escape, ask yourself: Is dirty laundry (the literal kind) a relationship deal breaker, or are you still pissed that he said you were acting like your mom? If it’s a new relationship and by date three your gut curdles at his nose blowing, it may be your subconscious saying move on.
As for Amanda and Emily, their turn-offs stemmed from relationship problems that were too far gone. But now you know: talk out the thing that’s bothering you before it keeps you from getting hot and bothered.
War of the Roses
The War of the Roses