(I think this is post six? This isn’t particularly explicit, but it is about attraction and deciding whether or not to have sex with someone.)
You know the thing that people sometimes say, when they’ve been married for a long time, like,
“[spouse] just isn’t physically attractive to me anymore. I don’t want to have sex with them anymore.”
I sort of don’t get that. It’s hard for me to picture a situation where I could love & trust someone enough to be in a long term relationship with them, and still love & trust them, but stop wanting to have sex with them.
Because, I do experience sexual attraction (in ways that are more or less weird depending on the situation).
And I’m not demi: my ability to feel sexual attraction to a person isn’t predicated on having an emotional relationship with them. I do on rare occasions feel, like, Real Actual Sexual Attraction for random strangers, and I definitely feel my own weird brand of attraction for random strangers.
the set of “people I feel some kind of sexual-ish attraction to”
and the set of “people I would actually have sex with if they offered me the chance”
are pretty different and are determined by fairly significantly different criteria. The Venn diagram of those two things actually has a pretty small overlap.
And the second set, the would-actually-have-sex-with set, is largely determined by familiarity / trust level. I wouldn’t actually have sex with most of the people in the some-kind-of-attraction set, because I may think they’re attractive but I don’t have that kind of trust with them and I don’t necessarily want emotional intimacy with them. The idea of non-romantic / “no strings attached” / however you want to put it sex with a random stranger is less weird, but that still requires a baseline amount of trust, and this may be just a “me” thing, but I feel like the question of whether you can trust someone not to try to attach strings is a big deal. No-strings-attached isn’t necessarily less trust.
Anyway, on the other side of it, I feel like if I have the level of trust in someone that I would need to actually decide to have sex with them, then I would probably feel comfortable and okay having sex with them whether I Feel Attracted to them strongly or not. Trust and affection can make a lot of “flaws” seem unimportant. Losing trust in someone could make me change my mind about having sex with them, but I don’t really think a change in their appearance could? Certainly not a general getting-older type of change. Because with someone who I have that trust and emotional intimacy with, the emotional aspect is the primary thing about sex. It’s what having sex with that person is about, moreso than physical attraction whatever the heck that is. (Also physical pleasure is sorta not necessarily related to physical attraction?)
There are probably more aspects of this that I should examine (like, how my idea of “attraction to strangers” is primarily visual and what’s relevant to me while actually having sex is mostly not visual) but it’s late.