Is it real, or is it lust?
Yesterday's readings from my class notes were on morality, specifically marriage. And interestingly, that afternoon my son dropped down at the table near me and asked, "How do you know if you're attracted to someone?" It was one of those really cool parenting moments.
So I launched into a description of qualities I was looking for in a partner, things like happiness, intelligence, openness, affection, etc. Then he clarified that what he meant was, how do you know if it's real or if it's lust? Which of course is an entirely different question!
This gave me pause. I started with an idea that's always meant a lot to me, related to the synonyms of God found in Christian Science (so many things tie back to those seven words). In Christian Science, God is Love and God is Mind. Mind and Love coexist in the same supreme entity and are inextricably linked. So real love to me, even on the human scene, needs to be intelligent. It needs to be rational, it needs to make sense.
I told my son you can choose to be attracted—it's not something that you have no control over. Gone are the days where a mere physical spark will get my attention. I use rational criteria to decide if I want to pursue a relationship with someone. Do our lives blend? Do we share compatible values and aspirations? Does it make sense to team up given our life circumstances? If the circumstances don't make sense, I'm not one to pursue it even if I really like the guy. To me, there's no point in starting something I can't finish.
The Marriage chapter in Science and Health says this: "Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship" (p. 60). That sounds to me like there's an obligation to find out about those kindred tastes, motives and aspirations before we jump in.
Lust, then, might be what we feel on a physical level for someone before we've determined whether we're compatible in the emotional or life-goal realms. I think it's hard to lust after someone you really have gotten to know or care about. Sure, you may be crazy for them physically, but I wouldn't call that lust. Lust is about the unknown, about the taking, about the self gratification. Affection, even if it's hot, even if it's orgasmic, between two people who have formed a bond I think is in a different category than lust.
Frankly, I don't know that many people who are walking around feeling or indulging in what I would consider lust. Lust is flat-out sexual hunger with no redeeming features attached to it. Feeling a very strong attraction for someone you care about and are committed to is different, at least in my book.
Would love to hear from you all, especially you married folks. How does attraction fit in to your relationships?
Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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