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Lust, Attraction and Attachment -- Know the Difference

When a girl has been on 300 dates (only three of them promising) she may start to think she is doing something wrong. Here are some things to consider when the dating scene seems rough, and you start to question what you want.
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Dear Colette,

What is a girl to do if she's been dating online for years, been on over 300 dates, and can't seem to find chemistry with ANYONE? Seriously. I try to remain positive because I know that's the only way to attract and connect with a man. But when 297 out of 300 dates have been a total disappointment, it's hard to care. And next to impossible to want to keep trying. Three of 300 dates were promising, but in very short order they too became a disappointment, when the initial high of excitement wore off, and I was left with the reality of who I was actually lying next to. Is it too much to ask to want to fall in love with a man who gives me butterflies and makes my toes curl? That's what I want. I hope it's out there. And I hope I can find it.

Thanks for your help,


P.S. Love your blog by the way!

Dear Cure me with Chemistry,

First, thanks for the blog love. I totally appreciate it :)

And now... Uggggghhhh...

You just described the dilemma of probably 95 per cent of online daters -- men and women alike. It's a common affliction in the online dating realm. Semi-okay pictures, a sort-of decent profile, a hopeful "maybe this could work" and a determined "let's meet and see if there's anything between us" -- and then 300 dates turns into defeat and disappointment.

I know this feeling all too well.

I never kept track of how many dates I went on, while I was dating, but it was a lot. And I felt as frustrated as I can sense you are feeling right now.

What's the answer to this diabolical dilemma?

First, I think we need to take a brief detour over to the work of Helen Fisher and her anthropological greatness (she's an anthropologist who's studied and recorded how and why we love).

According to Miss Fisher, there are three stages to love:

  • Lust (bet you know what this one feels like ;)
  • Attraction
  • Attachment

I don't have the real estate on this blog post to go into each of these in depth, but let's just say this:

  • Lust makes you want to rip each others clothes off and hop in the sack every five minutes,
  • Attraction feels like you're on a drug-induced high, you have bounds of energy, and you can't stop thinking about your man,
  • Attachment feels like a sublimely calm, warm bubble bath after a long hard day at the office. Ahhhh...

And the kicker is, according to research the Lust & Attraction stages last as minimally as 18 months and as maximally as three years (and I've heard many reports from chemistry-addicts abound that they'd bet this is more like two months to one year).

So you see, Cure-me-with-Chemistry, the reality of long-term love is this: Eventually, it feels like a sublimely warm bath at the end of a long day. Scintillating sexual attraction has a shelf life, so to speak.

THAT doesn't sound promising, so what's a girl like you to do?

Well, Chemistry, it's time for a little self-inquiry.

It's time to start asking yourself the hard questions that you might have otherwise been unable or unwilling to ask yourself in the past. These questions are simple to ask but not necessarily easy to get at the truth -- your truth. (But not to worry, I'll help you do this, should you one day decide to work with me).

Okay, here goes. Ask yourself the following:

Am I really cut out for long-term love?

If the reality is that love is like a warm bath, without all the excitement, passion, and surges of energy to private places, then do you really want to be in a long-term committed relationship? Or do you want to enjoy the call of your loins instead? The reality is, it's only Hollywood, books, religion and other societal norms that say you *should* want to be with someone until death do you part. But do you?

Am I a drama queen who lives for ups, downs, change and excitement?

Drama queen may not be the right term for this, but there are people out there who thrive on change. They live for it. When things get comfortable, they get cagey. Are you one of those people? Are you really cut out for a life time of same old, same old? Not a bad thing if you're not. The purpose of these questions is to get at the heart of who YOU are, and what's going to make you happy.

Am I ready for the deeper intimacy that comes with long-term love?

Don't kid yourself. It takes absolute courage to open yourself up to true love with another human being. It requires you to break down any protective walls that you have up around you from past hurts. It's asks that you allow yourself to be vulnerable, imperfect, honest, truthful, and real. Sometimes we move from one hot thing to the next to avoid going to this deeper place. Think you're ready to go there?

Chemistry (better known as Lust) is Fleeting

Coming back to your question about 300 dates -- 297 of them being promising, but ending in disappointment -- and whether or not you can have a man who gives you butterflies and makes your toes curl. The answer is yes, you can. But you have to be prepared to let that hot passion fade if you want to be together for more than a few months or years.

Time for a little self-inquiry

Dig deep.

Don't be afraid of what you find. It may not be the status quo but that's OK. I speak from experience when I say that life becomes immeasurably happy and fulfilling when you live your life according to who YOU are, honestly. Not who someone else thinks you should be. Or, worse, who you think you should be because you just don't know any better.

Self-inquiry. It's kinda the answer to everything ;)

Lots and Lotsa Love,

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