IS IT LUST or LOVE YOU ARE FEELING?
(From my column in Sun on Sunday)
So you met her on the flight to Abuja and you love her so much because she has all that you want in a woman? And you want to marry her?
Sorry o, we are not laughing at you o! Just that most men have been there before you, especially during early adulthood, and are now wiser.
Oh, so you insist that is your woman?
Check, check, check!
Well, not so fast! Check, check, check: Run your feelings through this simple test: You want to be with this person to have sex soonest?
Apart from her physical appearance and body parts, what else do you know about her? In this world of body enhancement, or artificial this, artificial that, do you even know what are behind those clothes?
Sorry o. The reality is that the intense feeling triggered by the lady is because your sex hormones are raging, fuelling you with idealization and projection. You are seeing what you hope the lady will be or need her to be, rather than seeing the real person.
So, please wait for the euphoria or intense feeling to cool down, then you know what exactly you are feeling.
If you are a woman who is smitten by love at first sight, your case may even be worse. Check, check again because women are not wired to fall in instant love. They are more careful in building relationships, and their love is a combination of several factors deeper than sex or the love for money.
Falling in Lust
Most often when people, especially men, say they have fallen in love, the reality of the situation is that they have fallen in lust.
We are able to discuss this because apart from individual experience, the subject has been studied. There is for example, a course on Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings, and an expert like Mary C. Lamia has a Ph.D in it.
Experts say, lust may be experienced as intense desire or unbridled sexual longing.
No matter the intensity of the feeling, lust cannot even be described as a natural human emotion.
People who are in the throes of lust may lose their sensibilities, since lust seems unable to recognize the reality of a situation or motivates one to neglect it.
I like Judith Orloff’s explanation of lust. She is a psychiatrist. She says that in the state of lust the “brain is much like a brain on drugs. MRI scans illustrate that the same area lights up when an addict gets a fix of cocaine as when a person is experiencing the intense lust of physical attraction.”
Pure lust is based solely on physical attraction and fantasy-it often dissipates when the “real person” surfaces. It’s the stage of wearing illusory glasses when he or she “can do no wrong.”
So what is love?
Well, unlike lust, which is fuelled mainly by sexual attraction, love is an intense feeling of affection and care towards another person. It is a profound and caring attraction.
People in true love want to spend quality time together other than sex; get lost in conversations and forget about the hours passing; want to honestly listen to each other’s feelings, make each other happy; and even want to get to meet his or her family and friends.
They don’t stop there. They are motivated to make each other a better person.
Real love, not based on idealization or projection, requires time to get to know each other. Love is an extraordinary experience that has to be nurtured. It is not birthed by mere instincts.
Is lust a bad feeling?
Lust is not exactly a bad feeling if it does not lead us into wrong ends. People who are in the ecstasy of lust may lose their sensibilities, and that is dangerous.
However, being in love doesn’t exclude lust. In fact, lust can lead to love. Experts are agreed that love commonly starts out as lust and the two might even have an overlapping stage at some point in the relationship — or lust may never turn into love. Lust may be what first brings people together. It’s that initial desire to be with the person, while love is the desire to stay with him or her.
Lust and love are both experiences felt by a person for another person but when you feel lust for someone, generally you’re just attracted to him or her; you don’t have that deep emotional connection that you feel when you love a person.
It is therefore safe to say that lifetime decisions should not be based on lust. We should let that “cocaine or alcohol feeling” fired be raging sexual hormones subside first. Then we ask ourselves does she or he have all that we need for love?