A question I encounter from a lot of new clients is: do I need to be attracted to my surrogate partner? The answer may surprise you (or it might have if I didn’t already write it in the headline of this blog post): nope! Attraction isn’t required for surrogate partner therapy at all.
Although being attracted to your surrogate partner can be fun, it can also bring some challenges with it. Sure, if you find your surrogate partner cute, it can be pretty delightful when you first get to kiss or undress together. But it can also make the closure process a lot harder; saying goodbye to a practitioner you’ve grown close to over many months is hard no matter what the circumstances, but saying goodbye to someone you’d actually want to date — perhaps someone you’ve even fallen in love with? That’s a whole other level of difficult.
Surrogate partner therapy is primarily about intimacy skills practice, and that’s not something you need sexual chemistry in order to experience. In fact, being attracted to your surrogate can make the intentionally slow pace of surrogate partner therapy feel frustrating. I’ve had several clients over the years who pushed and pushed to move at a faster pace than felt safe; their desire was getting in the way of the work they came to me to do. What does matter in your search for a surrogate partner is feeling safe and comfortable. This work is deeply vulnerable, and it requires working with a practitioner you can be at ease around.
An added perk of working with a surrogate partner who’s outside your usual preferences is that it can help expand what you find attractive. Almost all my clients find in the process of this work that they are actually attracted to a lot more than the somewhat narrow conception of “hot” that they started with. When we learn to feel with our bodies and sensations, rather than be constricted by our mind’s desires, it turns out a lot of things can be hot. And doing that learning with someone different than your typical dream partner can be surprisingly supportive.
If you’re searching for a surrogate partner based on who you find most attractive, you probably need to reorient the way you’re approaching this work. Talk to your therapist about what you’re seeking from a surrogate partner. Be willing to examine whether your criteria are supportive to your healing journey, or whether they’re an old constraint that’s holding you back.