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Are You in Love or in Lust?

Are You in Love or in Lust?

Love or Lust? Or both? Is your relationship headed for long-term success, or is it more of a short-term fling?

Here are 10 ways to find out.

1. Eye contact

Do you and your partner make a lot of eye contact? Partners in lust tend to make less, as the brain’s focus is on gross physical anatomy, as in body shape, the view from a distance, etc. Partners in love tend to do more eye gazing, wanting to travel into each others’ souls. Eye gazing is more emotionally intimate that scanning our partner’s body, and a sign partners are wanting to get to know each other more deeply than just physically.

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2. Games

Partners in lust play more mind games with one another. In dating, partners in lust are more strategic, using manipulations, longing and jealousy to leverage desire. Partners in love dispatch these kinds of games to have a more sincere and transparent communication between them. Partners in love are less concerned with desire, and more concerned with trust and security.

3. Vulnerability

Partners in lust show less vulnerability with one another. Showing vulnerability may be seen as a sign of weakness, something partners in lust can’t afford to do because of the power game still being played. Partners in love want equality, and seek to deepen their emotional relationship by showing more vulnerable parts of themselves.

4. Family

Partners in lust typically are not as interested in one anothers’ past, family members, or complicated aspects of their current lives. They are more focused on physical gratification and pleasure. Partners in lust are not totally in the true friend category yet. They can’t be trusted to really care about the other people important to each others’ lives, they mostly just focus on one another. Partners in love take an interest in each others’ family members, including extended family, and want to understand each others’ past and the nuances of current life experiences.

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5. Communication

Partners in love engage in more ‘meta-communication.’ Meta-communication is exploring the nature of how we interact. Partners in love are interested in making their interactions feel safer, more open and trusting. Partners in lust tend to stick to certain topics, because the nature of conversation is not as important. Conversation, in the case of partners in lust, is more of a prelude to physical intimacy rather than an important intimate experience in its own right.

6. Perseverance & Consistency

Partners in love stick it out with each other and are there for one another even when things get tricky. There is less leaving and being suddenly unavailable when things are annoying or challenging. Partners in lust are less likely to hang in there when the chips are down. Staying consistent during stressful times is a critical part of forming a long-term, stable relationship. For example, partners in lust often leave after sex or during other non-peak ‘filler’ times. Partners in love stay together throughout the day, through the ups and downs of daily experience.

7. Can we have both?

Yes. A relationship can have lust and love. In order to accomplish that, it typically needs to mature in both areas as the relationship grows. For example, as love deepens, do partners keep their romantic lives stimulating, deepening their exploration of physical intimacy as well? Or do their physical lives remain more or less the same as their emotional life matures? Both aspects benefit from tending and attention. A couple needs to focus on deepening their emotional bond in order to expand a sense of love, but also preserve the mystery and novelty that drives lust. A great way to do both is to have a healthy sense of play that extends to both emotional and physical intimacy.

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8. Does love kill lust?

No, not necessarily. But it can. The idea that an emotional friendship will kindle sex drive is not entirely accurate. Feeling safe and connected emotionally is typically good for romance, because both partners need to be able to relax and be vulnerable to deepen their physical relationship. But within that context of overall safety and trust, partners need to know how to turn on the ‘strangerness’ of their physical intimacy as well, to keep things exciting to the more instinctive part of the brain.

9. Does my partner love me?

Tough question. Typically, if people have to think about it, the love is not very strong. On the other hand, there are situations where people do love one another but have trouble being in touch with the part of themselves that feels it. Does your partner consider your needs as well as their own? Do they think about you when you’re apart and do little things they know make your life easier? Do they say sweet things to you about unique qualities you possess that set you part from others? Those are all signs of love. If you partner speaks in generalities about you, using descriptors that apply to half the population (or those with your body type), and doesn’t seem to keep you in mind when apart, it suggests more of a lust-based connection.

10. Can lust turn into love?

Yes. Relationships often begin with lust, then deepen into love. But some relationships don’t deepen into love, because one or both partners are uncomfortable with emotional intimacy, or its not the right fit. If you’re looking for a love relationship, a secure and stable long-term partnership, you want to identify signs of love within the first 6 months. If your relationship has not matured past the signs of a lust-driven relationship by then, chances are it may not, and you should evaluate how ready you both are for a love relationship.

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Featured photo credit: 123RF/pat138241 via 123rf.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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