Love or desire?
Love is the ultimate boost: a hard drug, an anorectic and an aphrodisiac in one. If love were simply a game, we wouldn’t feel this way. But it’s more than that. It makes your heart race and skip a beat, passion and the intensity of it all cloud your judgement and it makes you feel all sorts of ways for about six month to two years… yes, that’s all the human body can take. It’s impossible to feel all these emotions forever.
Love is a kind of stress, positive stress (eustress) but still stress and your body can’t take it for long. Your body will eventually crave the satisfaction, the safety and comfort that comes with long-term romantic love but the infatuation, or shall I say, obsession must go. In a long-term relationship, the partners experience love and sexuality at the same time so there is no need to make a distinction between the two. But in the fog of passion, it’s quite impossible to identify what you’re feeling - is it love or is it desire?
Sexual desire has the power to cloud your judgement: you might feel betrayed by your hormones and your brain, feeling like you’re on some kind of drug. You’re just not yourself anymore and people better not expect you to act normal, that “normal” version of you is long gone. All these experiences and feelings might make it extremely hard to tell love and desire apart.
New love clouds people’s judgement and there’s nothing wrong with that in the beginning: no one spends the first couple of weeks evaluating and assessing the situation, it’s a time to simply be happy. First, love and desire go hand in hand but infatuation decreases over time and we start seeing things clearly. And when passion decreases, we act like little children after Christmas wondering where all that sparkle has gone. What happened? Where has the excitement gone? Who is that perfectly ordinary person I’m with living my ordinary life with? And then comes the conclusion: the fire, the passion and the desire we once had is now gone. What do we do now? Shall I stay or shall I go?
Desire is of crucial importance: no relationship can unfold without attraction and passion but a passionate relationship does not necessarily lead to a long-term relationship. No matter how hard you try or how hard you’d like to make it work, passion does not equal romantic love. It takes time and perseverance, sacrifice and trust to build a long-term romantic relationship. Passionate hook-ups are quick fixes but that’s not love. It takes time for love to unfold.
It’s perfectly normal for a man to keep complimenting you on your appearance and how hot you look in the beginning of a relationship but if you can’t go deeper and all you do is have hot sex, you’ll get stuck. You need to go deeper than that for a long-term relationship: building a relationship takes honest conversations, intimate cuddle sessions and other, non-sexual activities outside of the bedroom. In today’s emotionally immature world, love has become one of the most important pursuits of our lives and we act like we’re ready for it. But the truth is, we tend to act like children when it comes to relationships: we want it all right then and there and that often makes us clingy and needy. We hide away from the outside world, it’s just us two. But even little children need to learn to be on their own and figure out who they really are.
Passion will fade and, without a strong, deep bond, passionate love can never turn into long-term companionship.
When we first get together, we’re glad to see that the other person knows what we want and can give it to us, but later on in the relationship, we need to identify our own needs and building a strong bond takes work and it takes actually seeing the other person. You’ll both need space but it doesn’t mean you’re disconnected. It’s a mistake to think that a long-term relationship, or a marriage, can be build upon desire and passion alone. Commitment and faithfulness are what make a strong foundation and it requires both partners to put in the work. Passion will turn into companionship but love remains. And it is love that will help us build a life together: to build a home, a career, to raise children. Romantic love entails commitment, real intimacy and passion. And these help us avoid being in love with an idea instead of a real person.
Romantic love has the power to last for a long time, it evolves and grows with us. As we understand ourselves more and more, we also understand what it is we’re looking for in a partner. We learn to trust each other and we learn to take our masks off. No more secrets, no more taboos, no more hiding our flaws. We learn what hurts or scares the other person, what causes them to be anxious but we also learn how to build them up and make them happy. Passion will fade and, without a strong, deep bond, passionate love can never turn into long-term companionship.
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