Have you met someone who strikes your fancy while in recovery or post-recovery? Perhaps you think you have found love. Though few are willing to discuss this sensitive topic, there is a difference between love and lust. Lust indicates the existence of a sexual attraction while love is based on a much deeper desire. For some, love and lust overlap to create a relationship that can’t be categorized as one or the other. When you’re in recovery, you want to make sure that the relationships you are in are healthy and supporting your overall goals.
The Initial Attraction
When you first meet someone who you believe you like as more than a friend, your brain’s neurotransmitters activate and your hormones take over. This beginning period of dating is an exciting time for both people. But love doesn’t exist right off the bat. The initial attraction is almost always fueled by lust. It is possible for love to eventually stem from this initial lust, but this transition does not occur in all relationships.
Love vs. Lust
While lusting for someone can occur instantaneously, loving someone takes time. You might care for your significant other quite deeply. However, if you were to remove sex from the relationship, you might find that you do not care for that person quite as much. Love transcends sexual attraction. If you are truly in love with your significant other, you will care for them when they are sick, make personal sacrifices to improve his or her well-being and stick with him or her through troubling times.
Pure lust is strictly about physical intimacy. Sure, you might spend a substantial amount of time dating your significant other; yet doing so might simply serve as a steppingstone to the ultimate goal of sex. Sex releases the love chemical, known as oxytocin, making your feel a special type of high that sometimes leads to the desire to “nest” together. Lusting for someone is quite different from loving that person inside and out. If you are strictly concerned with having your physical needs met, you lust for your significant other. If you really want to understand that person’s beliefs, opinions, feelings and thoughts, you just might be in love.
The Signs of Toxic Relationships
Ask yourself if you want to spend a large chunk of your free time with your significant other for the rest of your life. Do you want to help him or her grow as a person? Can you envision yourself living with that person for decades? Are you willing to lend that person support when times are tough? Do they support you in your goals for recovery? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you are likely “in lust” rather than “in love.” A toxic relationship might start out with seemingly innocent sex but can eventually transition into a problem. If you aren’t best friends or close to it, the relationship is likely to turn toxic over time. Do not give in to your lust any longer than you already have. The last thing you want to do is find yourself in a bad emotional state from a bad relationship, as that could tempt you to go back to your old habits. If you are in a toxic relationship fueled by physical desire and little to nothing else, it is time to move on with your quest for true love.