Single Relationship Counseling - Is it Love or Lust?

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The question of how to tell the difference between love and lust comes up in various forms on a pretty continuous basis for a relationship counselor. Naturally, the greatest difficulty is in understanding when hormones have the advantage of emotion. What makes this so difficult in my opinion is the fact that when romantic love is present, lust is too. It's a natural response to the emotional need to get closer to the person we love.

Getting closer to the body we love can be an entirely different thing. One way of distinguishing the situation in this case, is to take note of whether you are deciding on the quality of the person based on their physical appearance. This can manifest as loving the beauty of their eyes, form, etc., and believing that only a lovable individual could have these specific qualities.

A good single's counselor will point out that more real love is that which has affection and caring for the other person going beyond the physical. The caring is for the well-being of the other, regardless of whether it includes you or not. It may include a desire to nurture or protect. Satisfaction may be had by simply being in the presence of the other.

Lust requires satisfaction for oneself, and when it's achieved you may not have further need of the partner. Frequently just getting initial satisfaction is all that it takes to complete the relationship in it's entirety. This shows that one is only "loving" a body, an object, not a human being. Here is where many of the negative aspects of so-called "love" show up, in possessiveness, control and submissiveness. These are attitudes which we take with objects, not with people.

Emotional maturity is a necessity in real romantic love. Extremes of neediness, posturing and emotional manipulation are each indicators that greater maturity is required for a fulfilling romantic relationship. As this maturity is gained, one is less likely to look to another for fulfillment and is more likely to satisfy their own emotional needs. Having someone to share this with at that point is a bonus and not a necessity.

Short Love Poem

"People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
but when the darkness sets in,
their true beauty is revealed only
if there is a light from within."

--Elizabeth Kübler-Ross