Today I received an unexpected message from a long-lost friend whom I haven’t seen in nearly three years. The amazing and extraordinary Sarah, with whom I learned to understand the difference between love, lust, obsession and infatuation.
We met one rainy morning, in a small town, in a remote part of New Zealand. We were both stuck indoors in the small hostel because of the constant and endless rain. The afternoon started off with her and I smoking cigarettes on the terrace while drinking tea.
We quickly came to realize that we were both heart-broken over the shenanigans of men. Broken hearts quickly brought us together and in one morning we became the bests of friends.
Soon after, the weather brought in another traveler whose journey had been detained by the never-ending rain. After listening to our conversation he joined us by admitting that he too was recovering from a broken heart and that his trip to New Zealand was done with the purpose of forgetting the wicked woman who had broken his heart by cheating on him with a guy she barely knew.
So there we were, a Brit, a German and a Mexican united by broken hearts.
The three of us talked for endless hours until night kicked in and we ran out cigarettes. Discussing the complicated emotions of lust, infatuation, obsession and love.
All three of us were suffering from heartache, a consequence of emotions that we couldn’t understand. But it was thanks to this day that all three of us came to understand what exactly were we feeling and for two of us the sun shined again rather quickly. For the poor German guy it would take a longer time until his heart could sing again.
It is common and actually extremely normal to confuse lust, obsession and infatuation for love.
But what is the difference if they all feel the same? Wrong. At the start they might all feel the same because our emotions are mixed up in a toxic emotional cocktail. But if you stop and analyze you emotions you can come to understand what exactly is it that you actually feel. Is it love, lust, obsession or infatuation? They don’t all feel the same deep inside. That’s what we came to realize and that is what Sarah wrote to me about, that at 36 years of age she had finally found love, the real thing.
So… what’s the difference?
Lets start with Lust shall we….
According to Wikipedia, lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body. Which means that it is merely a physical attraction that pushes you to seek sexual gratification, in the case of lust towards a person, because you can also experience lust towards an object or other things.
As teenager it is extremely common to confuse love for lust. Our hormones are jumping all over the place and we think that because we want to fuck somebody that we love them. When in reality is just lust speaking at loud “yummy! You look fine and I want to make you mine”.
As we grow older and get to experience life more fully it can become easier to separate love from lust. Don’t get me wrong though, many out there still mix up these two feelings and it is particularly common in women. Men on the other hand know when it is lust that they’re feeling, for them it’s a lot easier to have a one night stand because they have it clear in their heads that they just fancy the psychical aspect of the person. Their emotions even if maybe not socially correct, are clear to them.
Again, definition of Wikipedia: infatuation is the state of being carried away by an unreasoned passion.
Unlike lust, infatuation has its origin in something more transcendental than just feeling attracted to sex or the physical appearance of someone. It is like a crush, you know… like when you were 16 years old and had a crush on one of the Back Street Boys, although you probably also had lust for them. Infatuation like Wikipedia says is passion.
Raw passion towards someone, you might not even know the person well, you probably don’t know the person at all but you still fancy him/her, feel butterflies in your stomach and for no reason at all you like him/her.
It’s not love, you don’t love that person, for no reason at all you feel attracted to him/her. Of course, if that person doesn’t like you back you hurt. You think you love them, but do you really? NO YOU DON’T, there is no base or reason for that love.
Hollywood has done an excellent job at portraying infatuation for love. Boy meets girl they don’t even know each other and boy or girl goes crazy when that infatuation is not reciprocated.
The most dangerous of them all. Calvin Klein might have made it seem to look good in his perfume ads, but there is definitely nothing glamorous about obsession. It can be excruciatingly painful and agonizing because the person obsessed thinks she/he is in love.
Obsession can be very easily confused for great love, when in reality is just an ailment of the mind that keeps the person emotionally and mentally enslave to someone else. It is an overwhelming desire to posses another person, with an inability to accept rejection or failure.
In this stage the butterflies in the stomach become raging vultures and daydreaming becomes ugly nightmares where the only thing in one’s head is the need and desperation to be with that other person.
Yes! Hollywood and ads have also glamorize obsession making it seem like is passionate, The Note Book, kind of love. A relationship that will last a lifetime and that if you don’t give up on it it will eventually be yours. Well… NO, it’s obsession!
I think we’ve all been obsessed somewhere in time after a bad breakup, when we just refuse to accept our future without the other person. Does it feel good? Of course it doesn’t, that’s why it’s important to understand obsession, so we can identify it, understand it and let it go.
How does one begin to explain the complexity of love? Great writers and poets have tried to put into words the powerful and amazing feeling of love and many have failed trying to explain the grandiosity of it all.
I’m no poet and I’m a sort of pseudo writer, so I’ll do my best.
Love is the feeling were your soul feels a connection that goes deeper to physical appearance. It is many times unreasoned which can be confused for infatuation, but deep inside you know it’s something else.
You can´t wait to get naked and have sex with him/her but that’s not the sole reason you’re with them. Sex becomes transcendental and profound.
Love feels good, because true love is reciprocated. You don’t have to chase after it because if it’s love it happens naturally. You want to devour that person, but you also want to take care of him/her.
Their happiness becomes your happiness and you can´t imagine life without them, which is why you might think that you’re obsessed, but you also understand that if love is not reciprocated you don’t want to force the other person to be with you. Because love makes you selfless, it brings out the best of you and sometimes the worst, which your other half will accept willingly if he/she truly loves you.
Love is enslaving but it’s also liberating, which creates a complicated paradox to comprehend. Suddenly you come to realize how emotionally, physically and mentally you are attached to that person but at the same time by loving and being love in return you find freedom. Because it feels like you’ve found the part that had been missing your entire life.