How do I know if my relationship is purely based on lust? I am unsure about the difference between “love” and “lust”. I really really adore my boyfriend, but I wouldn’t call it love yet. We’ve been together almost a couple of months now and I already trust him a lot, he is such a gentleman to me and I even feel ready to have sex with him. But I wouldn’t say I was in love yet. How do I know? Thanks :)
Sam W replies:
The good news is, you’re definitely not the first person to ask this question. People have been trying to parse out what, exactly, constitutes love for most of human history. And who can blame them? Loving someone, and feeling loved in return is, in it’s best form, a really wonderful emotion. And most of us don’t want to miss out on experiencing it. So we look for a formula, an equation, some ultimate, objective definition that will tell us that what we are feeling is capital L Love. But love is more complicated than we’d like it to be, and that’s what makes your question tricky to answer.
Can you guess where I’m going with this? Greece. Greece is where I’m going with this. Because the Greeks, instead of focusing on the idea of one, true version of love, acknowledged that there were many different kinds of love. Now, I am willing to bet that you kind of knew this already. For most of us, the love we feel for a parent, or a close friend, feels somehow distinct from the love we associate with romantic relationships. The Greeks recognized this diversity of loves. For instance, they had a type of love called eros (or eratos in modern Greek). This love can refer to erotic desire and passion or it can simply mean a deep or intimate connection. One thing to notice about this definition is that doesn’t put sexual desire in a separate category from love. And that ties really importantly to your question about whether or not what you’re feeling is “purely” lust.
Lust is often thought of as a less complex emotion than love, because we see it as being “only” about sex. That it’s purely a physical desire, based on how attracted we are to someones body. But, even sexual attraction is variable and personal, and the equation for lust isn’t always as simple as “I think person x is super sexy, ergo I wish to climb them like a tree.” I would argue that, for many people, sexual desire is not purely physical, and that it also has an emotional component.
For instance, I have known many guys whose physical traits made them lust-worthy (by my standards), but who I never actively felt lust for because I found them to be jerks. I couldn’t uncouple the personality from the body. Some people can, others have an even harder time doing so than I do. There can be instances where you care about someone a lot and are comfortable and happy having sex with them but it doesn’t feel like love to you. And you can have a reverse scenario where someone has all the traits you look for and love in a person (brains, a sense of humor, charming smile, etc) but you’re just not feeling any spark of desire. Attraction is weird like that.
Read the rest of the answer here.
I’m 20 and I’ve been talking to this girl for a couple months and she’s amazing. When I’m with her all of my pain and suffering that I go through daily is gone. She takes it away with a little smile. She says I’m everything she wants in a guy and I make her happy except when we start becoming intimate. She says the sexual attraction isn’t there, and I can’t get her to reach an orgasm with my penis. It’s normal sized but she says she wishes it was bigger. We had sex 3 weeks after we met and she says if we would have waited until she had deeper feelings for me, it wouldn’t matter. I’ve never had a girl make me feel likes she does. I’m not some dumb young guy, I have a house and a car and a job but all I want is her. But I don’t know what to do from here. I can’t hit her spot, and I’ve tried putting her legs on my shoulder. What should I do?Heather Corinna replies:
Hey there, Dan. I’d never assume someone is dumb, period (including when someone is a young, a guy, or without a house, car or a job), nor do I think that having strong feelings for someone means a person is dumb. It sounds like you’ve had a pretty watershed emotional experience with this person, and clearly you feel very strongly about her. It’s also clear this relationship has been positive for you in many ways.
Typically, for someone to feel sexually satisfied with someone else, whether or not they reach orgasm or enjoy any given sexual activity, they’ve got to start by feeling turned on: that usually also means starting by feeling attracted. I’m sure you know that for yourself, maybe even with this girl: if you didn’t feel sexually attracted to her, probably anything she did sexually would either only feel so good, or wouldn’t feel good to you at all.
I hear you saying she’s voiced that she doesn’t feel that sexual attraction to you is there for her.
But I also feel confused by some of the other things she’s said. You probably do, too. For instance, I’m feeling confused by what she’s said about your penis size being the issue. Then she says that if she’d have waited to have sex with you, she’d feel differently, which suggests to me this isn’t about your penis size at all, since it’s not like waiting longer before the two of you engaged in sex would have changed the size of your penis. And, unless, for her — and it might be, even though that’s fairly rare — her main point, or only point, of sexual attraction to someone else is about a certain size of penis which you don’t have, your penis not being a given size wouldn’t explain her expressing she just doesn’t feel attracted.
You say you can’t “hit her spot,” no matter how you try. So, here’s the part where I tell you some things you may already know. Hopefully even if you know some of this, there’s some new information here for you, too.
If you mean her g-spot, know that that doesn’t equal orgasm for everyone. (If you mean some kind of Magic Orgasm Spot, there really isn’t such a thing, and the rest of what I say and some links at the bottom of the page should clue you in about that.) Heck, for some people it doesn’t even equal feeling anything to write home about. You can stimulate some people’s g-spots and it can feel to them like you’re doing nothing at all, because that area of the body isn’t one that is a big whoop for everyone, or for everyone all of the time. Too, that’s so, so not anything close to all there is to orgasm, not for anyone: we’re rarely going to reach orgasm just because someone touched or stimulated one specific spot on our bodies. Orgasm, and the whole process of human sexual response, is so much more complex than that. Plus, if she’s someone who has previously enjoyed g-spot stimulation, or that is how she usually reaches orgasm, that’s not just something that can be stimulated with a penis. Not only can it be stimulated with toys or fingers, those are usually the better “tools” for that kind of stimulation anyway, regardless of the size of anyone’s penis.
Most people who can reach orgasm also won’t just do so via only one sexual activity or only one kind of sexual stimulation. If she can reach orgasm via intercourse (not with you yet, I understand, but if she has with someone else in the past), it’s most likely she also can via other kinds of sex, too. If no kind of sex you two are having is getting her there — and she’s not someone who generally has issues reaching orgasm, either alone with masturbation, or with previous partners — this likely isn’t merely mechanical, by any stretch.
But perhaps more to the point, any of the sexually sensitive places on our bodies only tend to feel very sensitive if and when we’re already feeling desire in our heads, and then if we become aroused in our heads and our bodies. The more turned on we get, the more sensitive they tend to be. Even if you had a penis or a couple of fingers that were the stealth missiles of g-spot finding (which, for the record, tends to be, like some people’s clitoral shafts also tend to be, pretty touch to find when someone isn’t turned on, because arousal is what creates swelling of those areas so they’re more apparent), and that was the kind of stimulation she liked most, if she wasn’t feeling sexually attracted to you, she probably still wouldn’t reach orgasm or feel all that stimulated.
So, what that confusion and what sound like to me are mixed messages, and what I know about the “mechanics” of sex, orgasm and arousal, all brings me back to is what she said about just not feeling an attraction, despite wanting to feel it because she’s otherwise into you. It just sounds to me like she’s been trying to express, even though doing so poorly sometimes, that a sexual relationship with you isn’t working out for her, mostly — and maybe only — because she doesn’t feel as attracted to you as she wants or needs to be.
I think this is one of those times where someone who was very in touch with their own stuff, and also taking responsibility for it would say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” and that’d be right, not just a way of making you feel better.
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.
I moved to Seattle around four years ago from Minneapolis, where I lived for six years after leaving my hometown of Chicago. Growing up in Chicago, living in Minnesota and after an early childhood on the east coast, I was used to old things, to history, to a total lack of shiny-and-new. Growing up poor and in a number of far less-than-ideal living situations, my normal in how and where I lived was often pretty rough around the edges, and often involved a lot of effort from me, typically more than my fair share.
Seattle, however, is kind of the land of shiny-and-new. Almost every place I looked at when I was apartment-hunting felt sanitized and kind of like Barbie’s Dream House to me: without my kind of character and so already-finished that I didn’t see where there was room for my own stamp in them. The allure of the fixer-upper was nowhere to be found. I’ve always liked fixing places up that anyone else would see as hopeless: it’s a challenge, and a situation where I might have the ability to feel like I’m awesome because I took something shitty and made it fantastic. I’ve always felt more at home in places that were a bit of a disaster, probably because that’s just what I was used to, but whatever.
As it turns out, I found this house to rent that seemed amazing: it was over 100 years old, and in a neighborhood that at the time, had more old character and charm than new stuff. It had a ton of kooky little quirks I found really charming. It needed a bunch of work done to potentially make it nice, but it had the raw materials to be something awesome with work. I didn’t think twice about how quickly the landlord rented it out to me, because I wanted it, so that just seemed like serendipity. Like this was meant to be my house, to the point that I had this idea that had anyone else tried to rent it, it would not have been so easy for them.
I did do a lot of creative work with it, though not as much as I’d have liked to. I just didn’t have the time or the resources to do so much of it mostly on my own. As well, even from the start, I should have seen some red flags I just didn’t. For instance, while I was so into working on it, my housemate wasn’t as invested in that as I was. I should have recognized that when a landlord says you can just do whatever you want with a place with no limits, they’re either not being truthful or just don’t care much about the place. I also had to pay some of the costs of fixing it up, rather than the landlord paying me to do labor he should have done himself.
As the years went by, more things kept falling apart and breaking. I tried to keep up with them mostly on my own, especially since when I asked for help, what was given was either substandard or radio silence. Within a year, my lease also got shifted to a month-to-month lease, meaning that the landlord could ask me to go pretty much anytime with very little notice. Having survived that exact situation more than once in my life, and so barely, that felt horribly unstable, but I just accepted it instead of trying hard to assert my needs. Still, I felt more comfortable here than I thought I would have felt moving, both because moving or any kind of big start-over is so hard, and because this place felt so familiar, not just with its style and age, but with it’s whole vibe: I’ve lived almost all of my life in places that were falling apart or neglected. I was used to that, and however uncomfortable that as, something about that did feel like home.
Last year, it finally became clear that I could drive myself batty trying to keep this place liveable and it just wasn’t going to happen. I spent a winter without working heat in half the house, wrapped up in blankets all day working in front of a space heater. The basic fixtures kept breaking. There were leaks, including one that nearly took down my kitchen ceiling, and a lack of insulation that cost me more money in bills than I have to spend. One day, I was so frustrated with two things that broke that I just gave up, went to get myself a glass for some wine, and when I opened the cabinet, the door fell off in my hand. On top of my house falling apart all around me, I didn’t even like the city it was in very much, and my neighborhood had also changed radically during the time I lived here in ways I did not like at all, and was not going to change back. I sank to the floor in a pile of tears, already upset due to building stress from managing work and some other huge changes in my life. It all felt so hopeless, and I so felt trapped in it, especially since at the time, moving wasn’t an option I felt I could handle financially or practically.
But why was I staying in a city I didn’t really like in the first place? Why was I staying in a house that was falling apart all around me more and more? Why did I keep trying to convince myself I could fix everything when I knew I couldn’t, or that my landlord would suddenly do all kinds of things he’d never done? Why did I keep focusing on the small things that I loved about the house when the big things were so awful? Why was I investing more and more money, effort and love into something where getting a real return on that investment was about as likely as a million dollars falling from the sky? Why was I staying so focused on what this house could be, rather than focusing on the way it actually was and was most likely to remain? Why was I accepting a total lack of help from the people who should be helping me with it while ignoring some potential help others could have given me to be somewhere better? I’m a smart person: why on earth was I being so stupid?
Ultimately, I think it came down to the fact that I was so bogged down and overspent with a lot of things in my life, including this damn house. On top of everything else I was dealing with, the idea of feeling displaced from any kind of home at all, even a poor one, just seemed like too much. I had taken part in digging myself in deeper and deeper into a pit: having to take responsibility for the place I was keeping myself in was harder than being unhappy, but being able to pin it entirely on what the house was doing, what my housemate and landlord were not doing. I had gotten attached and stayed so attached to the “what-ifs” and had invested so much time, money and heart into this place: I was having trouble accepting my hopes for it were simply never going to come to fruition because it seemed like such a waste. I had gotten scared of making a change, and had strangely managed to forget that I was capable of making it and had done so many times before in my life, even when it was harder than this was now. I had become comfortable in being uncomfortable.
In a few weeks, I’m moving out.
I’m leaving this house and this city for one of the beautiful small islands just outside of it. For many years no, I’ve talked about how I’ve spent almost all of my life in very urban areas, yet when I needed peace, it’s rural areas I’ve gone to to find it, and so I felt I might actually be a lot happier living rurally. The way my workday most often is, I can actually get away with only needing to go into the city a few times a month for work, so it is doable. Because it’s just a short ferry ride into the city, I can be rural here while also having easy access to the city. I found a place to move to with almost the exact same rent as I’m paying now, but where everything works and nothing is broken. Sure, it’s only 20 years old, so that feels and looks unfamiliar to me, but it’s beautiful inside and out. I will literally get to wake up every day and walk out into the forest, which is heaven on earth to me. As is often the case, if we can shake ourselves out of our miasma, we can usually identify not only ways to get out of it, but ways that getting out can be part of pursuing more of what we’ve wanted and had as goals all along.
Of course, this means my having to pack up everything and move again. It means money spent on moving and resettling, which is always a major strain. It means all the practical, tiresome crap you have to do to relocate. That means risking that a new place or space may or may not be better than the old one in some ways, even though it most certainly will be in other ways. That means having to deal with change, which even when it’s positive, is often uncomfortable and scary.
You may perhaps be wondering why I’m going on here at Scarleteen about my move. I’d be wondering, too.
I only just realized one of the big things that got me to these realizations about my house were conversations with some of you about your unhealthy, abusive or otherwise crummy relationships. So, I figured the least I owed you for that epiphany was the possibility of doing you the same turn, especially since your bad relationships have the capacity to screw you and your life up you a whole lot more than my bad house has the capacity to screw me and my life up.
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.
It struck me today that folks might sometimes wonder why, with an organization focused on sexuality, sexual health, and sexual relationships, we spend quite a bit of time talking about friendship. We do it in articles and blogs, and we talk with users often in our direct services about their friendships.
What’s that got to do with what we do?
A lot. Perhaps far more than you’d think.
For starters, we strongly feel that friendship is at the core of any and every excellent, happy, healthy relationship, whether we’re talking about a friendship that doesn’t have any romance or sex in it at all, or we’re talking about romantic relationships, sexual relationships or both. We think a sound friendship also has an awful lot to do with healthy family relationships, mentorships, and pretty much any ongoing human interaction we could possibly have.
Our relationships with people will also tend to be fluid through our lives. Friends can become lovers, lovers can become friends or family. Our super-sexy-whoo-hoo booty call can wind up being someone we later call co-parent; someone we thought was only eye candy can turn out to be a person we ultimately consider our best friend in the world. Someone we thought was the great big love of our life can wind up a footnote; someone we thought was only a footnote can become the great big love of our life. While for some people, someone they eventually create a family with may be a romantic or sexual partner, for other folks, that person may be a best friend where those aspects of a relationship don’t come into play or aren’t even wanted by either party. And of course, while for some people, friends with benefits is a bullshit way of getting sex with no intention of ever being a friend, for other people, the “benefits” in an FWB truly do occur within the context of a bonafide friendship.
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.
We entered a smallish city and in moments were pulling into the parking lot of a Unitarian church. I went in with them and saw several people, many who had been at the conference the day before, rushing about decorating the sanctuary. Clearly I had come to a church where a wedding was about to be performed. I sat near the back with the group with whom I had travelled. When the music began the small crowd of about 50 hushed, an air of expectancy – no, reverence – filled the room. Then into the sanctuary, into the house of God, came a man with a developmental disability. He walked slowly, his gait that of one who had once worn the shackles of institutionalization. He looked to be near 60. I smiled, tears formed in my eyes. When I see people with disabilities marry, I recognize that the march to the altar to stand before God is long. They must march past societal bigotry, family disapproval, religious intolerance, and agency dictates. He finally reached the altar. The music stopped. Silence. The music began again.
From the other door came another man. He too was older. He too walked as if the chains that bound his feet had only recently vanished. I looked at the woman next to me and said, “What’s going on!?!” She smiled and said, “They are finally getting married.” She continued by telling me that they had met as young men in the state institution and had been caught together “engaging in sexual behaviours” (social worker for “making love”). They had endured years of punishment and separation. A staff member heard the story from one of the men and diligently set out to reunite them. When she found the other man living in a group home operated by the same agency in a different town, nothing could stop her. They would live together if they chose.
Read the whole (amazing, beautiful, so vitally important) thing here. H/T to staff member Robin for this one.