Here’s a common scenario: You meet someone new, and one look is all it takes to light the fuse of sexual fireworks. You can barely keep your hands off each other — and the excitement of it all feels like falling in love.
But is it really? Can simple lust masquerade as something more? Is it possible to spot the absence of real romance soon enough to avoid making a bad investment?
The answer to these questions is “yes.”
It’s easy to mistake the explosive chemistry of physical attraction with long-term romantic potential. But if you’re willing to honestly assess your actions and feelings, it’s also not hard to recognize the truth. Here are 7 signs you might be confusing love and sex:
YOUR ATTRACTION IS MORE PHYSICAL THAN EMOTIONAL.
What was the first thing about your partner to catch your attention? Was it his or her sense of humor, or an act of kindness you observed? Or was it their fashion-magazine appearance and manner? There’s nothing wrong with looking good, or with appreciating that trait in someone else. But if that’s not accompanied by a deeper reason for attraction, you may be headed for disappointment.
YOU SAY ‘YES’ TO SEX TO KEEP SOMEONE AROUND.
When you’ve just started dating someone new, there may come a moment when it’s clear he or she expects sex as the next step — and that their interest may wane if you don’t agree. Saying yes can be an easy way to avoid asking the question: Why do you feel their interest might sag?
YOU ARE LOVERS, BUT NOT REALLY FRIENDS.
The sex is really good, maybe even great. But what else do you have in common? What would you talk about if one of you were physically incapacitated after an accident? Do you know personal details about them that their most casual friends don’t also know? If you have trouble answering questions like these, chances are sex is standing in for deeper connection.
YOUR TIME TOGETHER IS ALL SPENT IN BED (OR GETTING THERE).
Do you go out together to public places where the idea is to have fun or get to know each other better? Or do you mostly “hang out” at home where sex is instantly available?
WHEN SEX IS DONE, YOU WANT TO LEAVE.
Lust alone is often all it takes to draw lovers together. But when the sex is done, lust by itself can produce the reverse reaction — like magnets that cling together until you flip them to opposing poles. If either of you can’t stick around to cuddle or spend the rest of the evening together, then the potential for real love is probably small.
THE SEX MAY BE GOOD, BUT YOU STILL FEEL UNSATISFIED.
Researchers have recognized that the biochemistry of sex — through the release of hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin — is meant to engender feelings of well-being and bonding with your partner. But that can’t overcome your own intuition about the relationship’s true potential. Beware if you feel empty after sex, rather than fulfilled.
YOU RESIST INTRODUCING YOUR PARTNER TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
Is this person someone you can’t wait to show off? Or do you intuitively suspect that the people who know and love you best will see the truth you are trying hard to deny? If you’re tempted to keep the relationship a “secret,” chances are it has little lasting potential.