· By Case Kenny
Is it love or lust?
How do you stop yourself from overthinking in dating? How do you know when someone is right for you or not right for you?
That’s the most frustrating part of dating. You think you know and then you see a smoking hot 10 at Trader Joe’s and you start questioning everything.
How do you know when you’ve found “the one?” How do you know if you’re settling?
I have some perspective here that might be helpful for you.
A couple years back I read an article by Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D and it was a lightbulb moment. It outlined that there are three stages to a relationship.
Lust, attraction and attachment.
Lust is physical attraction.
Lust pretty self explanatory.
It’s physical attraction. It’s wanting to do the horizontal mambo with someone.
Then there’s attraction.
Attraction is where you start feeling warm and fuzzy about someone. Your heart skips a beat when they text you. You feel amazing in their presence. You joke and laugh together. You’re vibing. There's an emotional connection. You have similar goals and values. You see the world in similar ways.
And finally there’s attachment.
This isn’t stage 5 clinger attachment-type stuff. This is the good kind of attachment but we really don’t consider it when it comes to dating. We look for lust and attraction and forget about the need to be attached or wanting to be attached on a deep level.
Attachment is the desire to become one with your partners flaws, problems or negative attributes.
It’s the deepest bond or connection and it comes from shouldering each others’ faults as one.
It’s different from lust and attraction. Those are fun! Those are all about how great you feel together.
But attachment is so necessary and I think it’s something we’re quick to forget about.
We’re quick to not even think about it because we’re so focused on lust and attraction.
And then it’s no wonder we end up in relationships for too long because we’re stuck in the lust and attraction phase and we forget about graduating to attachment.
So I think we need to check ourselves and realize that lust and attraction is easy.
It’s easy to find lust in someone! It’s easy to be physically attracted to someone. It’s also easy to be attracted to someone - someone with a good sense of humor, who is kind and caring, who has a sense of confidence, and is successful.
That’s not that difficult. There’s a lot of people like that.
I think it’s human nature to be so focused here. We want to be attracted to someone. We want to find similarities that bond us. We want to agree and laugh with someone. We want to feel connected to someone.
But the missing piece of the puzzle is this idea of attachment. It’s the question of “am I attached to this person?
Do I want to be attached to this person?” When things are boring, it’s not all butterflies and laughs and the lust isn’t there… ask yourself: am I attached?
Am I about the future or am I just about this moment and this attraction? How do I feel when that person tells me something that is clearly a fault of theirs?
Do I cast it aside in favor of thinking about that lust and attraction? OR am I ready to rock and I want to dive into that thing?
Am I attached enough to not look past something because it’s easier to think about all the great things?
OR do I feel a sense of empathy and eagerness to become one with that problem so we can solve it together? It is THEIR problem or OUR problem?
THAT’S attachment and we forget to ask ourselves this.
We have all these checklists for things we look for in someone - sense of humor, 6’2, polite, caring, motivated, etc. But we forget that final BIG item: am I attached? What is your reaction when you consider a fault of your partner?
Do you dive it? Or do you revert to thinking of your lust and attraction to that person? OR are you centered in saying: yes that is a problem but I’m here for it. I’m all in. This is our problem.
I think answering that question will really answer the question of how do I know if this person is the one?
Thinking about attachment means you take that person off the pedestal you’ve put them on. You look past their banging bod, their lovely personality, their aligned ethics and values and you look at their flaws… and you ask yourself… am I attached? Are you attached to the human elements of that person?
Those are the bad things, the dark things, the past, the stories you don’t ever tell someone, the things you or they are ashamed of?
Are you eager to bond over them and rise up together? Are you ready to take on those flaws as your own?
I think if we spent more time considering that, we’d have a more centered understanding of who is truly right for us.