Love and Lust Don’t Have to Be Opposites

It is common to read articles about “Love versus Lust.” However, these things don’t have to be on opposite ends of any kind of a spectrum. Love is often considered healthy, beautiful and “good.” So where does this leave lust? In this dichotomy, lust is treated like this forbidden element that only the weak fall for. However, lust (which is really just sexual desire) is natural and normal.

I believe that this “love versus lust” discussion risks insinuating that lust is “bad” or unhealthy. However, it misplaces the blame for serious relationship problems. People often blame lust for the breakdown of relationships, affairs, and cheating. In those situations, it isn’t sexual desire that was the problem. It was dishonesty and secrecy. However, it can also be shame as well.

We live in a culture that shames people for their sexual desire.

When we treat lust and love like they have to be opposites, we treat sexual desire like it needs to be shamed. We already have serious problems talking openly about sexuality, desires, and arousal. This is true, even with our primary partners. We live in a culture that shames people for their sexual desire. Don’t make the mistake of putting these things on opposite columns. They are both important to have in your life.

Sexual shame is no excuse for dishonesty and cheating

Shame prevents people from being open. When we feel shame, we avoid topics and fear being judged and criticized. This is when people get themselves into trouble. Often times, this avoidance leads to cheating and affairs.

Lust is often blamed for bad decisions by others, but lust itself isn’t the problem. The problem is our inability to share our desires openly. Therefore, the real problem is how you manage boundaries regarding sex in your relationship.

All of us have some level of shame around sex. In fact, there is even some research that suggests that this is ingrained in us as humans. One of the primary antidotes to shame is to open up. Many times, people will find that their partners are more understanding and accepting than they thought they would be.

What does love have to do with it?

Love and lust aren’t opposites. They aren’t part of a good vs. bad dichotomy. However, they also don’t always mix either. Some people want things in their relationship that their partners can’t provide. Other times, partners can provide these things, but they need to be aware of what you’re wanting. Either way, you have to be open with your partner. When you’re open, you’ll be able to share what is negotiable and what isn’t negotiable. For the things that aren’t negotiable, you can then discuss how you’re going to deal with these things.

Negotiation problems? Get help!

There are relationship and sex therapists who can help you navigate through this, when you hit a wall. If you feel like you can’t negotiate this, and you’re not sure where to turn, therapy is a good place to start opening up this dialogue. The most important thing is that you’re being open with yourself and in your relationship.


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