Lust: Between a Crotch and a Hard Place
Image credit: Courtney Carmody from Calamity Photography, Flickr
“Tis better to have love and lust
Than to let our apparatus rust.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian
When it comes to sex, lust takes centre stage. Desire and craving are deliciously intertwined with sex—as they should be! Whether you’re in a committed relationship or keeping your sex casual, an absence of lust could indicate potential problems in your appetite for that situation.
But does an absence of lust necessarily reflect a lack of desire? Can comfort replace lust as a primary motivator in sexual bliss? This is definitely debatable. Some would argue that this is the natural course of a long-term relationship and perfectly acceptable. Others would say a lack of lust indicates a dulling of affection, which can certainly sting and cause hurt feelings. A related situation can apply to those who pursue different lovers. If there is no lust for any of their sex partners, they could be entering dangerous territory in terms of interpersonal relationships? However, by not falling in deep lust with any particular people, this person could be a form of protection, allowing themselves to enjoy sex as a pleasurable pursuit.
As is often the case, what may be best (depending on the situation) is probably somewhere in the middle.
For those who keep things casual, a lack of excitement for the action you seek could mean you’re not really into it, that maybe you need to re-evaluate how you approach sex. However, you can still keep people at arm’s length if your lust and passion for getting laid—and that is all—is still firmly in place.
In a long-term relationship, comfort is an earned prize, won by virtue of loving your partner, learning compromise and exhibiting care. Relish it! At the same time, a complete loss of sexual lust for your partner could be an indication that you and your partner are suffering from compatibility issues. Sure we age, sure we evolve. Your partner will not be the same person who eyed with deep desire 20 years ago. Except, they are.
But…maybe you aren’t. Herein could lie the problem with a lack of lust in a relationship. To borrow a tired old phrase, maybe it really is you and not them. Maybe you have lost interest, lost that lust that characterizes so many exciting new relationships. Maybe you take to comfort a little too readily and are also taking your partner for granted. Maybe you start looking elsewhere…
This is where the negative connotation of lust comes in. When lust overrides consideration of others. When lust makes you act in a way you normally wouldn’t. When lust makes you pursue sex in a way that is detrimental to both you and those involved—be that your partner, your new paramour or that person’s significant others. This is when you enter problematic territory.
In common parlance, we’re talking cheating, infidelity, adultery, stepping out. When lust causes you to enter a sexual relationship with someone other than your partner without their knowledge or input, or with a person who has an equally unknowing partner. There can be a myriad of reasons for wanting a new experience—but for many it boils down to an irrepressible sexual response. And despite most media depictions, men are not more likely to cheat on their partners than women. Television and films usually make the man the one having the affair, but a survey indicates women are the more frequent cheaters.
What a lot of people don’t realize, when they make the decision to have a sexual relationship with someone other than their partner, is that a more compassionate understanding of differing relationship models is emerging. No longer is sneaking around or connecting via sites like Ashley Madison the only option to explore your personal lust. Ethical non-monogamy, polyamory and other relationship structures make possible the pursuit of both sexual and/or emotional relationships outside your primary connection. Whether you want another life partner or occasional no-strings hook-ups, communication could open you and your partner up to new opportunities that allow a pursuit of lust.
There is another less involved way to enjoy lust without hurting anyone else in the process: fantasy. Whether you enjoy some good porn, read entrancing erotica of just like “window shopping” out on a walk, imagination is the most fertile of places for fantasy lust. Remember, withdrawals from the spank bank are always free of charge can carry no penalties.
One way to ensure healthy fantasy lust is to make room in your relationship for masturbation. It doesn’t have to be a primary sexual outlet, but having the comfort in your relationship space to say “I’m just off for a little stroke, back in a bit” is a great way to let your partner know you’re still interested in sex and have ideas. You might even find this turns your partner on!
Unfortunately, open discussion of self love is a conversation sorely lacking in many relationships. And a big part of this is that same fantasy lust. Some people do not even like their partner thinking of someone else, never mind soaking their hand at the thought of another. While not wanting to far into the realm of another sin, Jealousy, being able to discuss attraction to people outside a relationship is something we are so ingrained into not doing. We’re not supposed to look. We’re not supposed to yearn. But how is this even possible?
It is not only possible, but entirely healthy to look at other people, think about them and still respect both your partner and that other person. Remember that both are people, have feelings and don’t deserve to be objectified. Lust can easily be harnessed in a positive way, and if you and your partner are open to discussing, can lead to many great conversations and even hot, lusty sex.
Question about Lust:
Do you have an issue with your partner attending strip clubs?
– Jon Pressick
About the writer: Jon Pressick is a sex-related media mogul. He is also a writer, the editor of the Best Sex Writing series from Cleis Press, co-host and producer of Sex City Radio, event organizer, workshop facilitator, (very occasional) burlesque performer and general sexual gadabout. Jon Pressick also won the prestigious 2010 TNT Favourite Adult Journalist Award and has been named as one of Broken Pencil’s “50 People and Places We Love.”