It is normal and natural to feel physical attraction for others. If you’re in a dating relationship, you will feel sexual attraction for your girlfriend or boyfriend. But lust, if not properly understood and controlled, can lead to harmful behaviors that can damage self-esteem and ruin romantic relationships.
What is Lust?
Lust is different from the biological sensations of attraction. Lust is a sense of intense sexual desire that can feel like it is dominating your thinking. The difference between love and lust is not an exact science, but lust feels different from love and expresses itself in different ways.
Lust doesn’t have anything to do with who someone is, or what you love about them as a unique individual. When you love someone, you care about them and want to help meet their needs, whether or not they’re ready for sex. Lust, on the other hand, is focused on wanting to be with someone sexually only because of how that sexual contact can gratify your desires. It is more of a hunger or craving for someone’s body than a deep, unconditional love for who they are.
Lust and Risky Behavior
It may seem like lust is a private feeling, but it can influence how you treat your partner, and it can lead to other risky and harmful behaviors, such as:
- Having sex before you or your partner feel ready
- Crossing physical boundaries that you don’t want to cross before marriage
- Using pornography or masturbation to gratify sexual desire, which can become an addictive behavior
- Sexting, which has high risks of exposure or discovery, and could impact you or your partner’s future success.
- Pressuring someone else to masturbate, watch you masturbate, or have sex in order to make you feel satisfied, which is sexual assault
How to Face Lust: Self-Control, Not Shame
It can be difficult to know where to turn for help, especially if you grew up in a church or family where lust (and anything related to sexuality or sexual behavior) was either never talked about, or was shamed so much you felt like you could never discuss it again. But sexuality is a normal part of how we’re made, and it’s not a mistake or something to feel ashamed of.
The key is talking about and understanding attraction in a healthy way, learning how to express those feelings in a way that makes you and your partner feel safe, and doesn’t compromise your boundaries or beliefs. You can learn healthy thought patterns and self-care practices that lead to greater self-control, and stop damaging your romantic relationships with risky behavior.
TheHopeLine is a place to get confidential help when you want to regain healthy self-control of your feelings of attraction and break free from lust. Reach out to us via live chat or email a mentor to get help today.