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"Lust vs. Love"

"I thought I found the woman of my dreams, but she was like that crazy chick from Basic Instinct. Why didn't I see this coming?"

How many times have you heard a similar question from friends, or have you ever gotten into a relationship, but after the first "blush of love" wore off you had no clue where that wonderful woman you first met went? There are many things that contribute to this type of situation, so we thought we'd delve a bit deeper into some of the contributing factors.

In our last article "Internetting a Lesbian Partner with Online Dating," we touched on the fact that if you are looking for a serious long-term relationship, a good thing to do is to date and get to know the person before you go to bed with her. This is because in most cases, having sex with someone you barely know only screws up the perception of what is real and what is not. If you get to know someone, you can then fall in love with her and not merely with the sex.

The truth of the matter is that the infatuation stage of a relationship is not truly a "Love at first sight" type of thing after all. It is a biochemical response.

I recently went to a workshop called "Human Sexuality: Across the Lifespan and Cultures" for which Pat Love, Ed.D. was the keynote speaker. If you ever get the chance to attend a function where she is a presenter, take the opportunity and go. She is an acclaimed therapist, speaker, and author of four books, and she really knows her stuff. Her two biggest books are Hot Monogamy and The Truth About Love. The information I'm presenting is a synopsis from her lecture, and the latter book.

It turns out that the beginning of a relationship, when we're so drawn to the person that we just met and feel like everything is exciting and wonderful and that this could be the woman of our dreams, is all biochemistry. Dr. Love says, "Love is not attraction. Love isn't about chemistry. Chemistry is simply a part of Mother Nature's plan to pull us to a 'preferred partner.'"

Dr. Love talks of the DNA Dance, and that we seek, unbeknownst to us, someone whose DNA is much different than our own. This means that on some deep and instinctual level, we realize that our DNA needs what their DNA has. This internal knowing then triggers hormonal and brain chemistry reactions that combine to make us feel like we just have to be with this person, hence the U-Haul syndrome with lesbians. Good old Ma Nature wants us to look for someone who has very different DNA than our own, and this brings on the extreme sexual attraction that comes into play.

It's important to remember that love isn't always about being sexually attracted to someone. Sexual energy is all about hormones, not about harmony, which means that sexual energy is often not partner specific. Again, this stage is something that Mother Nature invented to pull us together with a preferred DNA partner.

So, what happens to us when the hormones start sending out fireworks? According to Dr. Love, we develop "heightened interest, euphoria, pleasure seeking, pleasure receptivity, increased energy, loss of appetite, lowered defenses, positive outlook, and increased libido." All of this means that you may be physically attracted to someone with whom you are not personally/emotionally able to connect when the biochemistry settles down and you start to move into the more settled part of a relationship. Dr. Love said the dictionary definition of infatuation is basically "to be carried away by shallow love or affection." The infatuation stage typically occurs when we are not sexually active with the person with whom we find ourselves attracted. Add sex to the mix and things can get complicated very quickly.

These are the basics of understanding why we are so driven to be with someone when we first meet her. It also explains why after this first stage passes, about a year to eighteen months, the biochemical imperative begins phasing out, and we start to notice those personality traits and situations that we used to blow off. These things can be the warning signs that would have told us we need to stay away from this woman.

Little niggling thoughts like: "Isn't that great. We both like to go horseback riding," but then you find out that she's never even ridden a pony at the fair, and her false statements were just a way to connect with you in the heat of hormonal urging. Or "Isn't that sweet. She's really jealous of that woman who just said hi." But she really has a big problem with suspecting you are out to sleep with every woman you meet. Or "That sarcastic thing she said last night, sort of reminds me of that abusive thing my ex used to do," and it is the same thing your ex used to do.

In reality, it just might be that you are returning to an old pattern that you wanted to leave behind, be it simple or abusive dysfunction within a relationship. That sweet jealousy might become something really ugly or the sarcastic humor suddenly turns into full-time complaints. This can lead you to realize that you don't have much in common with this woman you were Heels Over Your Head for, and I mean it just like it’s written. You may wonder how you ever thought you could get along with this person or be madly in love with her when you really don't like her very much.

These are all things that we miss because when we're infatuated. Our biochemistry tells us to overlook those things in favor of the physical DNA compatibility. When you jump into a relationship way too early you can miss these early warning signs and it can cause a lot of unnecessary heartache in your future. We also make decisions we normally wouldn't and ignore our own advice.
For instance, moving in with a woman you've only known for a month or moving across the country because your woman asks you to, dismissing the fact that you never wanted to live in that state anyway because you've had horrible allergy attacks when you visited. She's in the closet and you're out but in your mind you just know that you can get her to change even though she's still married, the kids are young and she says she plans to stay until the kids are 18. Or, you really don't like kids, but the person you've met has three, and you figure "How hard can it be?"

The point is that you're not thinking logically and just because your hormones are all geared up doesn't mean that this is woman is compatible with you for a long-term relationship. We joke that men are thinking with their little head, but sad to say, women can also be just as easily lead around by our clitorises in this stage of attraction.

So take your time, get to know each other and let the sex come later. Date, talk on the phone, go to dinner, go for walks, do all those things you did with a dating relationship when you were a kid and not sexually active. The attraction will be there, but work on letting the conscious mind be your motivator and not your biochemistry. Do yourself a favor, and let your fingers wait to do the walking, while you do the talking and get to know this person and become friends with the one who may be the woman of your dreams.

Tracey Stevens and Cathy Wonder are the co-authors of
“How To Be A Happy Lesbian: A Coming Out Guide”
“Coming Out Advice for Lesbian and Bisexual Women"
“Relationship Advice for Lesbian and Bisexual Women"
“Lesbian Sex Tips: A Guide for Anyone Who Wants
To Bring Pleasure to the Woman She (Or He) Loves”

“Sex tips para lesbianas/ Sex tips for lesbians" (Spanish Edition)
“The Lesbian Big O: Over 100 Sensual Illustrations"

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The advice in this column is the opinion of the writers and is not intended as a
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