Jan 11, 2007

How To Turn Lust Into Love

By Lisa Lombardi

Whoa. The animal magnetism between you and your date is so strong you’re finding it difficult to speak, much less pay attention to anything either of you is saying. In a way, feeling instant sparks with fourth-of-July wattage is any dater’s dream come true... and yet, it also can present challenges. Like: Can you two keep your clothes on long enough to figure out whether you have anything in common? Could there be true love in your future? Well, it turns out there are ways to actually get you two bonding. Try our advice to achieve that enviable state of love plus lust.

Try to take things slow
Diving headlong into bed with each other sure may be tempting, but the longer you can hold off, the better it bodes for your relationship potential. “Lust has to do with hormones and requires no work. But there is no safety net with lust,” says relationship expert Bonnie Eaker Weil (www.makeupdontbreakup.com). “Love takes time to develop, so go slowly. Don’t give into your lust if you can avoid it—that is, if you want more than a booty call.” To keep your urges from overwhelming you, try getting to know each other in less charged environments where you can’t get into trouble—over email and the phone, or lunch dates vs. 10 p.m. meetings, which all too easily involve alcohol and can lead back to someone’s apartment.

…And if you don’t wait, enjoy it!
Of course, not everyone has the will power to wait—nor should they! It all depends on what you’re looking for. “If you’re easily hurt or really want to be in a relationship, this might not be the best decision for you,” says Sharyn Wolf, author of So You Want To Get Married: Guerrilla Tactics For Turning A Date Into A Mate. One way to tell if you’re psychologically capable of taking the plunge is to ask yourself: If you get up tomorrow and you don’t hear from this person in 24 hours, how will you feel? If your answer is “devastated,” then do your best to abstain. If your answer is “Not great, but hey, that night of unbridled passion was worth it anyway!” then feel free to proceed.

Up the intensity in bed
Whether you sleep together sooner or later, there are plenty of things you can do during sex that can make a purely physical connection feel much more romantic. For starters, try some eye contact. “Anytime you look into someone’s eyes during sex, it’s intense,” says Julie Taylor, author of How To Be A Dominant Diva. “Also, caressing someone’s face or hair feels especially tender.” And if you’re the talkative type? While it may be tempting to shower them with compliments like “You’re so hot/amazing/gorgeous!” you’re better off with exclamations that emphasize how you two are amazing together, like “I can’t believe how our bodies fit together so perfectly.”

Make it known you want more
What if, after a few dates (or nights) together you find yourself wondering, “Could this be the real thing?” Then it’s probably time to put out some feelers in your date’s direction. “Let this person know where you stand, instead of trying to fish around and find out where he or she stands, which never works,” says Wolf. “Say something like, ‘The level of chemistry here is intense, and that makes me curious if there’s something more here.’ That way you’re just throwing it out there rather than putting on the pressure.” If your date responds with “I feel the same way,” then you may well be on your way to a relationship. If your date shrugs it off, that may mean he or she isn’t interested in a relationship and that you should move on.

Time your “I love you”
It’s the moment of truth: You’ve spent enough time together that you could swear you want to spend the rest of your life with this person—and not just in bed, either. It’s time to utter those three little words... only when? And is it too soon? Here, some general rules of thumb: Don’t say it in bed after getting busy; great sex can cloud your judgment. Plus, the recipient will forever wonder, “Does this person love me because the sex is great, or does this person love me for me?” So instead, choose a moment when you two are doing something incredibly unpassionate—parting ways after a lazy weekend brunch together, or just sitting around one evening watching bad reality shows. Because these are the moments, no matter how unsexy, on which a solid relationship is really built.

Lisa Lombardi is a writer and editor based in New York. She’s contributed to Redbook, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.