Relationships can be very difficult to navigate at times. Especially when it comes to situations where we develop very deep feelings for another person. One of the biggest questions we ask is, are they feeling the same thing as us?
There is no doubt that our society has become increasingly oversexed. Whether that is in print ads, social media posts, or even on television. In the past, you could very well tell the difference between romantic love and lust. Today, it seems like romantic love and lust are very much intertwined, but at the same time, there are instances where we confuse one for the other.
As we wade through the waters of relationships and try to date, we might find ourselves in a situation where we wonder exactly what the other person is feeling. Or even what you’re feeling. Are you both experiencing a very intense romantic connection, or is it just a deep sexual desire that is keeping you both together? The best-case scenario for everyone involved is that it’s a mix of those intense feelings. There are times, however, when love and lust conflict in a relationship.
Is it obsessive thoughts or fantasies, or is it true love?
In 1975 an American psychologist by the name of Dorothy Tennov coined the term limerence. That’s almost the perfect way to describe the overwhelming emotion we have when we’re in love with someone. One day, all of a sudden, a very intense romantic interest in a person appears without warning, along with some overwhelming fantasies of the person we desire.
One of the worst things that can happen is that sometimes when we have these fantasies about someone, we get to the point of idealizing them. When we are with someone, we want them to be exactly who they are. Our goal is not to change who they are or to make them conform to our expectations. Idealizing leads to disappointment.
Even though it’s well known that romantic love can arouse our senses. It can provide us with a lot of emotional and physical energy, as well as a feeling of euphoria. It has often been said that love is like madness throughout history.
When someone is in love with someone, they can’t rely on their judgment about the other person. As the saying goes, love is blind. Sometimes we don’t see what other people see because we’re not ready or willing to see that side of a person. So, this is why the link between our state of limerence and our sexuality as humans is so complex.
Is it possible to achieve pure love?
A very clear distinction exists between the spiritual and sensual sides of human sexuality. Most of the time, people fall in love with others too who they are sexually attracted to first. Love, however, seeks reciprocation above all else. A couple usually views sexual activity as an affirmation of their love.
Romantic fantasies are typically intense and fast-acting, unlike sexual fantasies, which are voluntary and controllable. They also show up unexpectedly, are intrusive, and are difficult to suppress. Almost everyone uses erotic fantasies as a way to satisfy their natural physical and logical needs for stimulation and pleasure. Often, people are attracted to scenarios that they wouldn’t want to experience with their partners.
In contrast, limerence fantasies are many sought-after experiences that are always reciprocated. Whether they result in a sexual embrace or not.
If someone is absolutely in love with someone, it’s not uncommon for them to exclude their loved ones from their fantasies.
Love vs. Sex
The puzzling aspect of romantic love and sex was addressed by doctor Tennov in her study with 1,000 patients. In the survey that she did:
51% of men and 73% of women agreed that love makes sexual intercourse way more fun.
15% of the participants in that survey said their first experience with their romantic partner was disappointing. Could this be because they had idealized their partner ahead of time?.
95% of the female interviewers and 91% of the male interviewers all disagreed with the statement “The best thing about love is sexual intimacy”
30% said sex didn’t affect their feelings at all.
79% of men and 53% of women experienced intense sexual attraction without the feeling of love.
And last but not least, 35% of men and 61% of women said they were in love with somebody without the need for sex.
Even though both romantic and sexual experiences involve a partner, how the partner views things are very individual and completely dependent on how they view love, sex, and the object of their desire.
This is why there is a grey area between love and lust. Is your relationship built on Romantic love, or the overwhelming feelings of lust? Let us help you figure that out.