THE BLOG

Love, Lust, and the Pursuit of Happiness

01/14/2014 12:35 pm ET | Updated Mar 16, 2014
  • Julie Spira Author, Online Dating and Netiquette Expert, CEO of Cyber-Dating Expert, Media Personality, and Author of the Bestseller, "The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online."

One day, I fell in like. We can probably thank Facebook for claiming the relationship status of "like" in our vocabulary.

Falling in like is a safe place to start. Usually it begins with a spark of mutual attraction, call it chemistry if you like, gets solidified by conversations that last for hours, and is accompanied by a flurry of text messages. Like, love, and lust are four-letter words that can get confused with each other, so let's address them all for a moment.

When you fall in like, you typically have a crush on someone. You're possibly smitten and can't stop thinking about the other person. This is the infatuation stage of the relationship. Suddenly music sounds better on the radio, you have a natural glow about you, and you project to the future. Often, after a few weeks, the temporary high will wear off, a person's true colors come out, and they no longer seem perfect to you.

The thing is, we don't live in a perfect world. Those who define the success of a relationship based on perfection are destined for failure. One person can't keep the act up of being in the happy place 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Without the ability to communicate about both the good and bad things that are happening in your world, the relationship is nothing more than a fantasy. Going from zero to 360 is like a drug. It starts out as a quick high and can crash just as quickly.

Once you add sex to the equation, if you connect in the bedroom, the relationship turns from "like" to "lust." Your head is in the clouds as you think about how to satisfy each other. From wearing sexy lingerie to being a Geisha in the bedroom, lust is not love, my friends. Lust is physical and can backfire if you think it's the pathway to true love.

In the lust phase, you're exploring each other physically, emotionally, and intellectually to see if you're compatible. The desire is so strong that when you're apart, you're counting the minutes, hours, or days until you'll be in each other's arms again. Talking on the phone, sending flirty texts to each other, emails, Skype dates, they all contribute to the getting to know you phase. This phase takes time. If the relationship is based on lust only, it will fizzle the moment someone is knocked off the pedestal. If this happens to you, realize that you didn't do anything wrong. You were in a relationship that didn't have the opportunity to withstand the test of time. Being in "like" for a longer period of time, will help a relationship develop naturally and in a healthy way. A relationship built on friendship and respect and one that includes a bad hair day, the flu, or a rough day at work is a relationship that goes past the lust phase. Those who stay in lust are looking for a constant state of euphoria. This isn't realistic.

Can lust turn to love? Absolutely, as long as your values are in sync, you take the time to get to know each other, and you stand up for yourself and don't become a doormat. Women who have minds of their own, often fear opening up to say what's on their mind. This is a mistake. Conflict is natural in a relationship. It's how you handle conflict and disagreements as a couple that will show if you're able to be in a true partnership that leads to love.

Many misinterpret love for everlasting love. It's not uncommon for someone to say "I love you" to just get sex. Others will say, "I love you," only with the desire to hear it be said in return. Some feel the word love means forever, which isn't always the case. Those known as classic players or pick-up artists (PUA's), know how to play the game well. They hunt and seek with the message that they're looking for the pursuit of happiness and love. Often they'll tell you that they've never felt this way about a woman before you. They toss out the word love so easily and believably, when you just might be a girl in rotation. I talked about this in great length in my book The Perils of Cyber-Dating, where I described the classic player, who was addicted to his online dating membership.

I once heard someone say, as soon as he knows you love him, it's over. I was startled at hearing that. Shouldn't someone be honest and genuine with his or her feelings? Is love really just a game and once it's achieved, "game over?" Then the Fleetwood Mac song "Dreams" came on the radio and I heard Stevie Nicks singing, "Players only love you when they're playing," and I paused and gave it more thought.

Still, I believe that true love is possible, but it comes along with a deep friendship that grows. I know first-hand that it's possible to fall in love at first sight, second sight, or over time. I encourage you to read and understand these different relationship stages, take your time in getting to know someone, and keep your heart open, even if you've been disappointed in the past.

Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.

Julie Spira is an online dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. She coaches singles on the dating scene with her Irresistible Profiles programs. For more dating advice follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for the free Weekly Flirt newsletter.