In love, but not in lust - what's the right thing to do?

The title really says it all. Suppose you’re in love with someone, on a very deep platonic level (i.e. not “hi Jane, how’s it going? nice weather…”) but not actually in lust. Is it still reasonable to date that person? How important is the “in lust” part of a relationship?

Sorry if this is a bit brief…I’m not very good at expressing this type of thing.

I’m 33 years old and probably should have a better idea about this…but I don’t.

A number of years ago, there was a guy who was my best friend. We could talk about anything! I remember once telling him that much as I liked him, I could never see making love to him because I was worried he’d roll over and crush me – he was a full foot taller than I am, about three feet wide at the shoulders, and, in general is one of these guys who resembles a wall. Well, a few weeks after that, I realized he loved me and I loved him. A few weeks after that, we rented a hotel room for my birthday weekend and I found out that I was completely and utterly wrong! I liked making love to him a lot and did throughout our relationship.

My experience is very limited, but to me, lust can be fired by love. One nice thing about knowing a person well is that when I have had sex with him, there have been no inhibitions and no worries about whether he’d like me afterwards, nor did he have to worry. In other words, don’t rule out lust, erm, popping up yet.


I suppose it’s fine, providing the other person feels the same way. But if they love AND lust after you, and suggest more physical intimacy which you reject, you risk emotionally devastating them.

Lust is very, very important, but, as cjhoworth points out, it can grow. Hollywood has convinced us all that’s it’s an all-or-nothing thing: that either your eyes meet across a crowded room and you are both hit by the hormone truck or there’s no spark and no possibility of a spark.

Furthermore, don’t ever dismiss the power of conditioning: hands that once looked ordinary can suddenly look powerfully erotic after they’ve taken you over the edge a few times.

As far as dating goes, isn’t that what dating is for? To find out if you could love/lust after a person? The whole “decide a person is perfect for you and THEN try and convince them to go out with you” thing is for adolecents: adults see each other socially in order to see if the possibility for more is there.

On the other hand, you certainly shouldn’t marry someone unless there is lust, and love, and liking, and fun.

For most people, lust is something that is really strong in the early parts of the relationship and kind of moves to the background as time passes, anyway.

Which isn’t to say after seven years of marriage I still don’t lust after the hubby on occation, just that it isn’t like early in the relationship - I seldom sit at my desk at work and think about sex with him for hours on end like I did back then.

You certainly shouldn’t bother to date anyone you find physically replusive. You have to have some sexual attraction to have a sexual relationship.

You are FAR better off being deeply in love and only slightly in lust, than being deeply in lust and only slightly in love.

I’m guessing from your name that you’re male. If you’re female, stop reading now and go to the next post.

I’m quite a few seasons older than you, and having been through all of this kind of thing a few zillion times, let me give you the best advice I possibly can. There’s only one thing to remember when it comes to understanding women and relationships:

There is no understanding to be had! It doesn’t exist! It’s a myth, a chimera, a unicorn with Elvis on its back! The amazing, secret truth is… there is no ‘right way’. You behave way (X), it all blows up, you lose the girl, she tells you it was your fault because of (X). So next time you try to avoid being so dumb as ever to behave in way (X) and you treat her way (Y). Guess what? Same as before, and she says the reason is that you should have been less Y and more X. So it goes on.

Please, save yourself and your brain. If you carry on trying to make sense of it, you’ll end up in a padded room and a ‘crayons only’ rule.

So… date or not date, lust or not lust… there are no answers. It is not a problem that yields to rational analysis. Just do your best, enjoy the good times and drown the bad ones. Over and out.

  • Ianzin, from the internet terminal in the Sunnyview Twilight Home for the Bewildered

Two of my best and longest lasting relationships began as “just friends.”

Sometimes things develop over time. That said, if the “no lust” thing continues for a LONG time, then it may be best to end it or change it, etc., IMO.

I once caused a terrible thing when I was on the “no lust” side of a relationship similar to what yojimboguy alludes to above. There was deep commitment, much love, much hugging, snuggling and such, but his feelings for me were much deeper and more lustful than mine were for him. It ended painfully, badly and we’ve never spoken to each other ever since.

OTOH, I’m about the last person on earth who should be giving relationship advice, come to think of it, so never mind.

Thanks for the responses - I have read all of what you wrote. One important point I didn’t mention in the OP - we have been dating for a couple of years. Man, “dating” seems like such a wishy-washy word for it. OK, we’ve been a couple for two years. There’s always been this tension whereby I love her deeply on a platonic level, but the pure lust “jump her bones” isn’t really there. She feels both - a definite recipe for emotional pain :frowning: It also makes me feel really superficial - how can I be so damn shallow? I saw “Shallow Hal” a couple weeks ago and it really hit home. She is not ugly - and a very nice person.

The following especially stuck with me:

She thinks I am “the one” for her. I, being a male, am not so convinced. The “in lust” thing really bothers me, and it bothers me that it bothers me - again, makes me feel so damn shallow. I just can’t imagine making a lifelong commitment to someone when the “spark” of lust isn’t there. I know people generally end up more as “friends” in a long term marriage, but is it right to start off that way?

I’m afraid that may have already happened, many times with her. :frowning: :frowning:

Wow. You’re really screwed there buddy. I have never been in your exact situation but something close to it. Especially with the shallowness part. Did I say you were screwed?

My educated guess is that this can end up two ways:

First way: somewhere along the line, you leave her. It’s going to be very hard for you because you really love her. And it’s going to be really hard on her because you’re going to shatter her dreams. It is also improbable you will continue to be friends afterwards. Most of the times, it is painful for one of the two to be in the other’s presence because of the memories it triggers. Who knows though, there are exceptions to this rule. But time cures all, yadda yadda. You’ll get on with your life and all will be forgotten.

Second way: you stay with her. The absence of lust which you are mentionning now is going to grow more and more frustrating. You might have sex anyways but it won’t occur as frequently as normal for a recent couple and over time, she will feel that something is wrong. And for a woman, to feel undesirable is to be unhappy. You won’t feel happy either. You will lust for other women. In time, this might grow to be an obsession. You might end up cheating on her and eventually breaking up.
Your life sucks

Gozu - now I feel even worse :frowning:

God knows I’m the last person who should give relationship advice, but I will say that I’ve been there, and we eventually broke it off when we got to the “where is this relationship going” phase. Fortunately, it was a relief for us both, and we remained good friends. It’s not necessarily a reflection on your shallowness or her attractiveness that you don’t feel that spark that must accompany friendship and love for a permanent relationship to work. She just isn’t the right woman for you.

My advice (though I shouldn’t give it) is that you shouldn’t compromise yourself by settling for less than you need or deserve. It would be unfair to both of you.

Thanks tmwster - that was helpful. I feel this is the right thing but it still hurts like hell :frowning:

My advice, because I’ve been there, back out as nicely as you can. Be honest. If you’re not feeling something that you feel you should, then you need to be honest, because it will only get worse with time and more things will start to bug you that seem so small right now.

Thanks laserkitty. I have tried to do this without it being a blow to her self-esteem - I feel so bad I can’t describe it :frowning:

I’m not clear about something. You’re going out, but have you had sex?
Tell the truth, is there something about her, physically, that you don’t like? Do you yearn for a different “type”.
Is there something she is or isn’t doing that feels sexy to you? What if she started acting in a way that you found to be very sexy, would that make a difference?
What if you told her what that was, in detail?

I think I know exactly what you’re talking about. Been there. I’ll bet that when you break up it will be painful, and 5 years from now you’ll be thinking of calling her, hoping you can have sex just once more. Or twice.

If you can’t give her a real relationship, then you’re not doing her a favor by hanging on and letting her hope that you’ll realize that she’s The One. She deserves more than that, and so do you. If you’ve been dating (not as friends) for ‘a couple of years’ and you still don’t feel that way about her, then I have doubts that lust will grow for you–though I certainly agree with the others that it can. But it sounds like you’ve given it a reasonable chance.

Marriage has a lot to do with friendship, yes, but a good marriage generally requires a happy sex life, too.

FranticMad - yes we have had sex - we’ve been a couple for 2 years remember. As a purely physical act of course I enjoyed it, but on a deeper level I just don’t think the spark was there. I’m not sure I have a type as such…just some women I am attracted to, and others not. Like everybody I guess. I don’t think there are any rules about who is attracted to whom. At least, not for me. I thought the attraction would grow along with love, but it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. 2 years later I feel the weight of that time on my back, all those moments, shared experiences. But I feel this is the right thing to do. Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one. I just feel terrible that I’ve hurt, badly, a wonderful person :frowning:


I love a man as a friend, and I always TRIED to find him sexy/sensous and whatnot, so that I could date him and we could live happily ever after.

I came to realize that he deserves a woman that will WANT to sleep with him. Not one who will try and get herself to WANT to.

You see the diff?

oh… i just mean that I didn’t want to cheat him outta being lusted after.
I didn’t want to cheat him from someone who would crave for his touch, love his scent, ravage him… etc etc. I was not at all interested in that… and felt wrong about pretending to be. I thought he deserved the real deal. Some passion.

Maybe I’m young and niave… but tha’ts just my thoughts.

DarrenS, maybe you need to think about going to counseling to discuss this with a professional. It could be that some need, that has nothing to do with sex, is not being met but is effecting your ability to feel sexually attracted to this woman. I would say try everything that you can to resolve this situation before you decide to walk away. You could very well start looking at this in an entirely different way once you’ve ended it. You never know how much you miss something once it’s gone.