Love + Lust

A few days ago someone requested that I talk about love and lust. I've purposely stalled because I don't think a few thousand words on LINE can do justice--they're insanely heavy topics. But, since I finally feel ready to face this topic (it really is emotionally draining for me to talk about love) I'll do my best to explain what they are from the perspective of a seventeen-year-old college student from the US.

When asking about love and lust, a lot of people either think one is better than the other or think that they're mutually exclusive. Often the question is posed as a false binary: love OR lust. The thing is, they can coexist. Sometimes (often, really) they're destructive together. However, there are instances where they interact in a positive and healthy dynamic.

This post is going to be structured really simply: first I'll deconstruct myths about both love and lust to come to a reasonable definition of them both, and then I'll compare them and discuss them. Ummm....just remember that these are my own personal definitions, and you can of course have different perspectives. Background...I've been in three relationships, the longest one was 2 years and 10 months. I've been emotionally abused, molested, sexually coerced, etc.

LOVE: When most people think about love they think about longevity, years, marriage, death, committment. Love is long-term, or supposed to be. Chalk that up to the fact that we've been raised on fairy tale happy endings all our lives: if it's not forever love, stories say, it's not real love. This is fundamentally flawed, love can come and go at any time.

For me love just means a really high level of emotional investment and care for another person. I'm one of those odd people who get really invested really easily (cough baper) so I think I often get hurt when I don't have to. Love often involves effort, honesty, wanting the best for someone without being controlling. So, not super selfish--you simply want that person to find happiness.

Now, there's a big difference between love, in love, and lust, so I'll split into another definition:

IN LOVE: Being in love isn't the same as loving someone, you can love someone but not be in love with them, you can be in love with someone but not love someone. I usually use "in love" to describe the rush of infatuation and obsession you'll often feel when you meet someone new. It's heavily appearance-based. Falling in love happens when you meet someone and they seem wonderful and amazing, before you really get to know them. From afar many people can seem perfect--you like the person because they seem to be who you want them to be. It's like wish fulfillment. Falling out of love often refers to the destruction of the illusion and dreams, when you find out what they're really like. Usually it's full of bad feeling and disappointment.

LUST: This word connnotes passion, excitement, desire, etc. A lot of times it's used to refer to sexual desire, but I'd argue that lust (essentially overwhelming desire) is a word that can apply to many different things. Hence the existence of words like "wanderlust" and "bloodlust". In a love context, though, lust often just means overwhelming desire. It can be physical, it can be emotional, it can even be psychological (codependency, anyone)?

Most people look at lust and say that it's bad, because it's selfish and often dirty. Since it's so closely related to sex most people automatically assume it's morally wrong. I feel like that's a really restrictive way of looking at sex and lust--those are natural and very human things to experience and trying to pretend they don't exist or that you don't experience them is ultimately detrimental to your health. It's not bad to enjoy or be swept away by passion and excitement, it's not inherently evil to love life because of someone else.

I'm a little distracted right now but I'll include another askfm question I got a while ago and my answer to it in hopes that it can help explain things some more. It doesn't help that the person who asked the question was really vague..

I mean if you ask me, "which one do you prefer?", I'd probably just say love because I like the commitment and effort. I like when my existence is validated by someone's efforts to make me smile. It's so nice to able to rely on another person and rust that they'll be here--after all, isn't that one of the biggest reasons people get into a relationship?

Q: Do you think that love exists as you write it, or is it just a story? What do you think about soulmates??

A: Love is never just a story. It's always that and more. Stories, like love, can be messy. They can be clean, too. You're asking if the love you find in my writing can exist in the material world, right? With all those happy endings and painfully sweet moments? To some degree, it can.

Sometimes, my stories read like fairy tales. My characters kiss in the dark and have pillow fights that turn into random hold-me-while-I-cry-it-out moments and have chance meetings and depending on who you are, maybe you've seen that some of them have happy endings. All my stories are based off of my view of reality, so yes. I think that that love can exist as I write it. They're not just stories.

Now I'll answer your second (technically third) question, about soulmates. First, let's define the word "soulmate". According to Wikipedia, a soulmate is "a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity." What do I believe about soulmates? As in, do I believe in them?

Usually, when people think of "soulmates," they think of easy love. No matter what happens, the two people find their way back to each other, and from there on out it's happily ever after. Now, that: I just don't think that exists. You don't wake up one morning and get on the bus to school and turn around and find yourself staring into the dreamboat eyes of the one. No one is meant to be. You make it meant to be.

Because hey, love is effort. Love is sweat and hard work and tears. You gotta work to wipe away those tears and soothe the burns, then cringe at the shitty jokes. And I'm warning you in advance, hey? Sometimes you're going to be so frustrated you grab your coat and stuff your hands in your pockets (because damn, you forgot your fucking gloves again) and you walk to the park and you cry angrily a bit because that's the only way to get peace. Other times it'sit's going to be 7 AM and your alarm will be beeping and you'll be looking at that person and bringing them closer towards you, lips to their cheeks and fingertips to the soft skin of their backs, and you're going to end up kinda late to work because of that. Your boss will ask you why you're late for the second time this week and you look at him with a stupid grin and laugh, "Traffic."

Each person has their own flaws and quirks and scars, and to find true love means to find a person who puts in the effort to love and forgive them. The way I write love is work, just like any other thing that turns out beautiful. My characters work for their love. And in their invisible universe they could've met a million other loves, but they found the one they did, they chose the one they did. And I think all it means to be soulmates is to be worth the worlds of effort in the other person's eyes.

No one is born as the god of another person's life. We make our lovers that way. We choose the lovers to be our gods.