Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Theory & Essay

Why “Staying Attractive” Is The Most Underrated Act Of Love

The survey of 2,000 British adults in steady relationships pinpointed the 36-month mark as the time when relationship stress levels peak and points to a new trend of “pink passes” and “solo” holidays away from partners and spouses that many Britons resort to in order to keep romance alive.

The poll compared feedback from those in short-term relationships (defined as less than three years) and people who were married or in longer-term partnerships.

The findings showed that 67 percent of all of those surveyed said that small irritations which are seemingly harmless and often endearing during the first flushes of love often expand into major irritations around 36 months.

More than half of the Brits surveyed (52 percent) who were in younger relationships said they enjoyed sexual relations at least three times a week, compared to just 16 percent of those in relationships older than three years.

These findings — taken from  “The 7-year itch is now the 3-year glitch” — should come as a surprise to no one who’s been in a serious relationship. After the honeymoon stage — that blissful period where nobody farts, everybody still pretends to love each other’s families, and all intense arguments are quickly followed by even more intense (and still real) orgasms — relationships tend to lose a bit of their luster. This isn’t a bad thing, though. Once you’re off the contact high from the proverbial new car smell, you’re able to more accurately assess whether it’s something worth saving.

But, what did surprise me is what exactly was most often cited as the number one “passion killer.

Money issues? No.

Displeasure with monogamy? Try again.

Incongruent sex drives? Nope.

Extended contact with Eric Williams? Not this time.

Done guessing? Ok.

The top 10 everyday niggles and passion-killers: 1. Weight gain/lack of exercise, 13 percent; 2. Money & Spend thriftiness, 11 percent; 3. Anti-social working hours, 10 percent; 4. Hygiene issues (personal cleanliness), 9 percent; 5. In-Laws/extended family – too much/too little, 9 percent; 6. Lack of romance (sex, treats etc.), 8 percent; 7. Alcohol – drinking too much, 7 percent; 8. Snoring & anti social bedtime habits, 6 percent; 9. Lapsed fashion-Same old underwear/clothes, 4 percent; 10. Bathroom habits – Stray nail cuttings etc., 4 percent.

Yup. You read that correctly. Weight gain was at the top of the list. In fact, if you add weight gain/lack of exercise (13%) with hygiene issues (9%) and lapsed fashion (4%), 26% of the people responding to this survey cited something appearance related as the number one reason why they’re grown a bit more lukewarm about their mate. Admittedly, this was a pretty small survey, but when you think about all the sh*t we talk about money issues, sex drives, meddling friends and family, ambiguous commitments, and uncertain futures, its pretty funny to see that apparently all most of us need to keep the spark alive is a gym membership and a working Macy’s charge card.

Department store chain credit rip-offs aside, it’s really not all that surprising that appearance and physical upkeep plays such a large role in determining our intra-relationship passion, and it’s all due to the fact that the more serious a relationship gets, the more you see.

Anyone who’s ever had a job worth having knows that most of these types of jobs hold new employees to some sort of probationary period. Sure, you have the gig and there’s really not much of a chance that you’ll get let go, but you make sure to be on your best behavior — i.e. no 80 minute lunches, blue jeans on casual Fridays, or p*rn downloading on the office laptop — until that grace period passes. The new relationship honeymoon stage follows the same train of thought. Things are still new, and you’re still going on frequent dates, dressing up for these dates, and making sure that you’re wearing your newest (and freshest) undergarments in anticipation for what’s going to happen after these dates.

Once the honeymoon/probationary period fades, though, you start getting a little comfortable. The beard that was perfectly trimmed every time you saw him has now been replaced by a 3, 4, 5, and 6 day old stubble that, along with making him look a bit scruffier than you like, is beginning to irritate you whenever he gives you head. The inside joke you share about how her butt has gotten bigger since you’ve started dating is substituted with the thought that her butt isn’t the only thing on her that’s getting bigger now. You’ve now officially seen his penis flaccid more than you’ve seen it erect, and he’s officially seen your hair in more stages of “undone” than actually done.

Again, this is one of the hallmarks of a truly serious relationship. You get to a point where you’re not only comfortable with your mate seeing your “warts,” you actually want them to see them so you’re sure they’re into the real you and not the probationary period you. But, when you add this post-probation mindset with the weight gain that occurs after 3 to 6 months of going to the Cheesecake Factory every other weekend, it’s easy to understand how a couple can become a bit less enthused about each other’s bodies and how this lukewarm feeling can eventually lead to a loss of passion.

How do you rectify this? Well, nature has made it so that certain physical changes are inevitable, and any adult should realize and accept this. But, while staying “attractive” — and, in this case, “attractive” is completely arbitrary —  is far from the only thing a person in a relationship needs to concern themselves with¹, doing what you can to stay reasonably fit and “take-out-in-public-worthy” is just as much of an act of love and compassion as supporting your mate through grad school or delivering them homemade chicken soup while they’re under the weather at work. I know that wasn’t the most politically correct thing to say, but PC has no reign over what seems to actually matter to us.

Anyway, people of VSB, what do you think? Do you consider staying attractive to be an act of love?

Also, did the results of the survey surprise you, and if you were asked to name your number one passion killer, what would it be?

¹I call this condition — when a person’s only focus in life is to remain as physically attractive as possible — “evelynlozadus”

—The Champ

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • sucks but true. it is harder for us women though because get away with a little more when it comes to the weight department

  • fixedwater

    Too true
    If you want me to stay attracted, be attractive. IJS

  • Tes

    1) I just got through watching Basketball ____s (they aren’t married, dating, so…?) and I hold to the fact that Evelyn needs her ass whupped thoroughly and often.

    2) I believe that weight gain and hygiene and all that should never be neglected. If that’s what I looked like when you met me, save for a change of hairstyle and maybe some wrinkles (depending on how long dude stays around) that’s the way I plan to look. If I expect a mahogany Adonis, I damn well better keep my sh*t up.

    3) It’s an act of love because it’s work. You got your foundation, your concealer, your blush, your powder, eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, lipstick, gloss…let’s not even go to the hair. It. Takes. Time. If there were no men (or catty @ss women) to impress, I highly doubt any of us would spend a lot of money or time on make-up and all that. If everytime you come over, her legs are shaved, that’s love. Love = hard work. I’m rambling cause I’m tired, but I’m sure there are some good points in there somewhere.

  • Now this is where a crossover is coming with the open relationship crowd.

  • Liz

    I’d like to know the gender breakdown of this weight gain poll. i took issue with one of my former pastors ( a woman) who said wives needed to stay in shape so their husbands would be less likely to stray to other women. I took issue with that mostly because it sounded like she was blaming women for men straying and putting some ill-based fear behind staying skinny lol. Be healthy (and by extension, thin) so you have longer years to grow old with your mate. That’s more….romantic and less sinister lol.

    Anyway. These results make us sound real shallow lol. That’s fine. We’ll all just be old and lonely and miserable.

  • CaribbeanQueen

    I can admit to having personal experience with this.. right now! lol. when I met my man I was 130 which is perfect for my height, 5’4.. He was 6’1, 190lbs. We both gained about 20 pounds since we’ve been together. You do the math. You get comfortable, and you’re always going to Olive Garden and sh*t and it starts piling on. It isn’t really noticeable because most of my weight gain goes to my and thighs so I’ve just been looking “thick” instead of athletic like I did before with a very small pooch. He gained muscle (unfair) and a small pooch as well. Now this weight gain hasn’t had any effect on our passion but we decided not to let it get to that point and now we workout together every weekend.. I only want to lose 10 pounds tho because my breasts finally came into their own with the weight gain and we both like my booty. lol. I never want to get to that point where I gain so much weight that he isn’t attracted to me anymore, and I think he feels the same way

  • Even if you pass the probationary period of a relationship there still are certain upkeep things you should tend to. You may not have to do them at the vigor you once did but no matter how much we tout the whole inner beauty mantras, outside appearance matters. Not only should you do it for your mate, you should have that pride in yourself to attempt some semblance of flyness. I have a huge problem with folks letting themselves go in general, not just in the context of a relationship, it shows a lack of pride about the shell God gave you to maintain. You should not be taking better care of your car than your basic hygiene and upkeep. Something is wrong with that picture.

  • Jennifer Elise

    This makes total sense to me. People tend to fall in love with the ideal, and they don’t want anyone ruining the fantasy – not even the fantasy, lol.

  • “Committment is doin what you said you were going to do, long after the spirit of what you said you were going to do has left you”

    A committment is more than just the obvious cookin, cleanin, workin, etc….stayin (getting) in shape should be a committment to couples as much as the sex and all the other things…from both parties…

    Staying attractive is a responsibility of both parties…and it doesn’t take a long time…30 min workouts a day + eating right = a plan for success…

    Hell men, appreciate the EFFORT as much as anything…Two things that men appreciate…respect and effort…they can take you a long way as a wife,girlfriend, etc

  • Caballeroso

    Women often say that they should get a pass once they have kids, and while there is certainly some credibility to this argument since prenancy does have a significant impact on a woman’s body, I’m not so sure that that’s not a crutch that some may use for being able to “let herself go” in a relationship.

    If he was attracted to her when she had an azz/waist ratio of 1.5, and now it’s 0.75, it stands to reason that he may no longer be attracted to her. It doesn’t have anything to do with love, even though some would argue that love is all that should truly matter, the fact of the matter is that men tend to be more visually inspired creatures…after all, chances are, he didn’t step to her on day one because he loved her, he stepped to her because her body was bangin’!

    I regret how shallow this must sound, but from a logical perspective it makes sense. It may not be politically correct, but it does make sense. I’m not advocating the abandonment of family due to weight gain, just saying that I can see how weight gain could become a factor…especially if it’s in addition to other things that are less than ideal in the relationship.

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