NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Saturday, October 17, 2020

7 Signs Your Relationship is Based on Lust and Not Love

In a previous article, Confusing Sexual Attraction With Love, I began a discussion about the difference between lust and love because so many people confuse the two.  In this article, I'll be discussing why intense sexual chemistry by itself isn't enough for a long term relationship and the signs that your relationship might be based on lust and not love.

Sexual Chemistry and Dopamine Highs During the Initial Stage of Dating
During the initial stage of dating when sexual chemistry and dopamine levels are soaring, it's easy to confuse lust and love.  This is especially true when one or both people really want to be in a long term relationship. The strong need for love and commitment can delude someone into believing that there's more to the relationship than there really is.

7 Signs Your Relationship is Based on Lust and Not Love

In the age of dating apps it's never been easier to confuse love and lust.  Many of these apps, especially the hook up apps, are set up for people to choose potential dates based on sexual attraction alone (see my article: Dating vs Being in a Relationship).

Although physical attraction and sexual chemistry are an important part of any new relationship, when that's all there is, it's not going to result in a lasting relationship.  More than likely, it will result in a relationship that lasts as long as there is intense sexual chemistry.  Once that's gone, the relationship often fizzles out.

You Want a Committed Relationship But Your Partner Wants Friends With Benefits (FWB)
If it's understood by both people that your relationship is about hooking up and Friends With Benefits (FWB) and not about being in a long term relationship, there's nothing wrong with that.  

But it's often the case that one person in the relationship wants more of a long term commitment and the other doesn't.  She or he might be willing to wait a while hoping that a deeper relationship will develop from a mostly sexual relationship, but when it doesn't, that's when arguments and resentment begin.

The person who wants a "forever relationship" usually begins complaining that, while sex might be great, the other person isn't meeting their emotional needs.  And the person who only wants a sexual relationship often cuts out at that point because s/he really can't meet the other person's emotional needs and the demands become too burdensome for him or her.

7 Signs That Your Relationship is Based on Lust and Not on Love
As painful as it might be, it's important to recognize and accept a relationship dynamic for what it is and not for what you want it to be.  If you're constantly trying to get a deeper commitment from a partner, over time this is going to erode your self esteem and, if you're already lacking self confidence, you're going to feel even more insecure.

7 Signs Your Relationship is Based on Lust and Not Love:
  • 1. You Only Think and Talk About Sex With Your Partner: While it's important in any relationship to be able to talk about sex and what turns you on, if that's the only thing the two of you talk about, your relationship is probably not developing into something more substantial.  Talking about sex is fun, exciting and a turn on, but if you want a long term relationship, the two of you need to form a deeper connection, if that's possible, by talking about things that are meaningful to you.  If both of you want a deeper relationship, you need to find a way to build more emotional intimacy into your relationship and not just sexual intimacy.  If not, the relationship remains shallow and probably won't last long.
  • 2. You're Only Happy When You're Having Sex With Your Partner: If you're not happy with your partner outside the bedroom, it's often a sign that there's not much else going on in your relationship and your emotional needs aren't being met. You might not have shared interests, hobbies or like the same things.  Without more substantial interests and mutual friends, your relationship is going to remain shallow, and if you want a long term relationship, it's going to be a disappointing experience. 
  • 3. You Always Stay Home With Your Partner: Instead of going out on dates and having new experiences outside the bedroom, the two of you stay home all or most of the time.  If one or both of you want a deeper, more committed relationship, the two of you need to be more than just a booty call for each other.  Going out and having new experiences helps to deepen your connection and give depth to your relationship.
  • 4. You Only Spend Time Together Late at Night: If you're only getting together late at night, more than likely you're in a booty call situation.  Unless there are extenuating circumstances, like you or your partner work unusual hours, only spending late night hours together isn't the basis for a long term relationship.
  • 5. You're Not Emotionally Vulnerable With Each Other: To develop a deeper, more emotionally intimate relationship, you need more than just sexual intimacy--you need emotional intimacy.  Opening up with each other emotionally is one way to develop emotional intimacy.  This assumes that both you and your partner have the desire and maturity to do this, and you trust each other enough to be vulnerable (see my article: Emotional Vulnerability as a Pathway to Emotional Intimacy).
  • 6. You Only Make Up After Arguments By Having Sex: While "make up sex" is hot and fun, part of developing an emotionally intimate relationship is that arguments and differences are talked about and worked through.  If the two of you only make up by having sex, nothing gets worked through and, as a result, you're going to keep having the same problems and the same arguments over and over again.  To build a deeper connection, the two of you need to be able to talk through your differences and come to a resolution.  
  • 7. You Don't Trust Your Partner: Trust is the cornerstone of any committed relationship. While you might not have a commitment to be exclusive with one another when you first start dating, if you're several months or more into the relationship and you can't trust your partner to be monogamous, you're lacking a basic ingredient in your relationship--trust.  Wishing and hoping that your partner will one day be monogamous with you isn't the basis for a long term relationship because no amount of wishing can make it happen.  While it's true that some people change and can make more of a commitment, you have to be honest with yourself about the current status of your relationship. If you think you're with a player and you're constantly checking your partner's phone or looking to see if s/he is still on a dating app to hook up with other people, you're not going to feel good about yourself or the relationship (see my article: Relationships: Oxytocin, Trust and Empathy).
Know What You Want, Be Willing to Say It, and See Your Relationship Clearly For What It Is
Denial can be very powerful, and it's easy to delude yourself when you have a strong wish that clouds your vision as to the true nature of your relationship. 

If you want a casual sexual relationship, it can be a very enjoyable experience for as long as it lasts, and there's nothing wrong with that--as long as you and your partner are on the same page about it.  But if what the two of you want is different, it's important to acknowledge and come to terms with it or end the relationship.

If you've just gotten out of a long term relationship or you're in the initial getting-to-know-you stage of dating someone, you might not know what you want or what you want from the particular person you're dating. But if you're clear about what you want, it's better not to waste time trying to make the relationship into what you want when it's not happening.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you're confused about what you want or you have a pattern of getting into dysfunctional relationships, you could benefit from getting help in therapy.

A skilled therapist can help you to understand and change self destructive patterns.

Rather than struggling alone, seek help from a licensed mental health professional.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.