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Like, Lust or Love?

Like, lust or loveWe’ve all experienced the rush and excitement of meeting someone new. Your stomach flutters, chemistry crackles, and staying up all night just doesn’t matter. You’ve got energy to burn … who cares about sleep at a time like this?  But eventually all of the crazy hormones that keep us going in the early stages of a relationship balance themselves out, and you have to face the question:  Is this like, lust or love?

First let’s define each.

“Like” is actually the easiest. You are enjoying the company of another person and you’re having fun doing things together. There aren’t necessarily fireworks exploding when you are together (at least for you), but you are willing to see what might happen. If both parties in the relationship are in “like,” this can work out well for a casual “let’s hang out and have some fun” relationship. However, if one person is more invested than the other, this will probably turn into a short-term relationship.

“Lust” involves one thing:  physical desire and lots of it!  Does any of this sound familiar?  You don’t go out on dates much; you have good intentions, but wind up staying home because you can’t keep your hands off of each other. Your conversation may be decent but it’s quickly cut short when he or she moves in for a kiss. Ask yourself these questions:  Is this the person you want to wake up to the rest of your life?  Can you see yourself raising a family with this person?  If physical intimacy was not an option, would you be left with a meaningful relationship? 

“Love” brings out the best in people. Love is a changing and dynamic process–it should be flexible as your relationship grows. Here are some signs that you may actually be in love:  You take care of your girlfriend when she’s running a 101 degree temperature. Your boyfriend announces that he’s been promoted, has to move out of town, and asks you to consider relocating—and you don’t hesitate to say yes. Your significant other mentions that they’d like you to meet their parents and it doesn’t freak you out. You can’t think of a better way to hang out on a Sunday than working a crossword puzzle with each other. Have any of these things happened yet?  Then you might be on your way to being in love.

Now let’s ask the question … can you turn a “like” or “lust” relationship into “love”?  The answer to both is, yes, of course you can.

Some of the best relationships are those slowly built through friendship. If you are in “like” and believe there is potential, hang in there. Patience will serve you well and often the reward is a strong, healthy relationship that will stand the test of time.

For those that find themselves in “lust,” here are some tips to getting the relationship to the other side.

Try to take things slow. The longer you can hold off on physical intimacy the better your chances are of the relationship growing. To keep your urges in check, get to know each other by email, phone conversations and lunch dates (versus a 10 p.m. rendezvous for a drink, which could inevitably land you at someone’s house). Alcohol and late-night meetings are not a good combination if you’re trying to take a relationship to the next level emotionally.

Don’t be shy about what you want. After a few dates (or nights) together you may find yourself asking, “Could this be the real thing?”  According to Sharyn Wolf, author of So You Want To Get Married:  Guerrilla Tactics for Turning a Date Into A Mate, it’s time to put out some feelers. “Let this person know where you stand, instead of trying to fish around and find out where he or she stands, which never works,” says Wolf, “Say something like, ‘the level of chemistry between us is intense and that makes me curious if there’s something more here.’ That way you’re just throwing it out there rather than putting on the pressure. If your date responds with ‘I feel the same way,’ then you may well be on your way to a relationship. If your date shrugs it off, that may mean he or she isn’t interested in a relationship and you should probably move on.”

Any relationship requires an element of risk, and navigating your way through the stages of like, lust and love can be a challenge. Being aware of your emotions—and those of your partner—will help keep you tuned into the subtleties of a changing, evolving relationship.