Like, Lust, Love and Longing

I was thinking earlier today, whilst on my walk to storage, about what a terrible moral example I could be. For some people.

Do I believe in pre-marital sex? I interviewed myself as I walked past a church in the very actively Christian neighborhood I live in. Why yes, I do. I can’t imagine what it would be like to marry someone without having tested for compatibility in that department first. Of course, it always helps if both parties happen to be virgins. Then getting married without any knowledge of possible alternatives makes it all the more possible to forebear if less than perfect, right? Excellent formula for a long-lasting marriage, with no hope of divorce. Did I mention there are a lot of Catholic churches in the area?

Is there anything wrong with sex for sex’s sake? Not really. (Obligatory mention of protection, both from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Especially if sex for sex sake!) I couldn’t really say, actually. Most men I have had sex with, I had feelings for. In fact, I usually know them before it gets to that stage. What that feeling I may have for them, now that’s the real question.

Is it always love? Absolutely not. Sometimes I think it is, when it turns out not to be. It is usually at least like. Sometimes, heaven forbid, it is lust. Sometimes it is lust disguised as like. And the longest of my romances have been filled with love, lust, longing and like, the best of all worlds, when all those emotions are wrapped up with the same person.

Then imagine: you are a young bride-to-be, and you marry for love. You love your husband-to-be. You have never been with anyone else. You marry. You have sex for the first time, on your wedding night. It is good. You wonder what all the fuss is about, why our society is so sex obsessed, but you are with the one you love, your husband you always intend to be with for the remainder of your lives, and if there is something further to be learned about sex and how to make it more enjoyable, you will have plenty of years to figure it out. But when you bring it up with your husband, you find he has no complaints. He is in heaven. His sex life is great. His sex life with you is great. How can that be? Your own sex life is mediocre. Two people, engaged in the same act, together, and yet you have such different feelings about what is transpiring. What to do?

And then, one day, through no fault of your own, you meet someone else. It could be at work, it could be at school while attending the local college to eventually get a degree, it could even be a friend of your husband’s. And you notice that he notices you. You avoid him, and yet he really can’t be avoided, given where you meet. And continue to meet. You are attracted to one another. But you love your husband. What to do?

How would you know that what you have for your husband is merely like and familiarity? Until you meet someone for whom you have lust? And how would you know that it is lust and not love until you experience love? When you married, you honestly thought that was love.

Well, these are the questions of the ages, now aren’t they? I have been watching films based on Jane Austen’s writings, and films based on those films… I have been watching films and television shows about love and lust and longing.

And all I can say is, it sure helps to have gone through more than one heartache in life before hitching your star with anyone for the rest of your life. Honest, I’m not anti-marriage. I’m just against marriage without knowing the difference between all of the above. And you can know intellectually, but that is not the same as experiencing it.

I’m just saying.

And tomorrow? Off to California Adventure with someone whom I definitely like. Like a lot, and have for years. And today I was texted by someone for whom I definitely lust, and given the content of the message, the feeling is mutual. Given time and increased interactions with either, my feelings could grow to something more than like or lust. Maybe even love. But in the meantime, since it is all just unfulfilled wishful thinking, my feelings remain firmly in the land of Longing. Thus the resonance with Jane Austen, the perfect accompaniment for unfulfilled feelings. And miscommunication and misunderstood intentions, oh my!

Oh, but I did want to say one thing further. Lust, as a motivating factor, seems to be working very well for me. I looked around my apartment when I saw the text and thought, oh no, I’ve got to get this place cleaned before I want him over here. I was relieved when I didn’t hear back from him after my response. I may lust after him, but I also want to impress him. That whole thing from Bridget Jones’ Diary of liking her just the way she is? I am feeling like that isn’t good enough for the one for whom I lust. I feel more like Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good As It Gets, stating she made him feel like he should improve himself to be worthy of her. (Or whatever the line was. I’m paraphrasing!) And I haven’t felt that way about anyone in a long time.

So say yes to lust, say yes to like, say yes to love and longing, but especially say yes to them when they make each one of us strive to be better people.

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