We know, it’s not an entirely fair question–what if both are really important to you?–but let’s say you had to choose one. Which one would it be?
Valentine’s Day is here, and with it comes a multitude of messages to buy chocolates, flowers, expensive dinners and other aphrodisiacs to spread the love, or get you in a lustful mood. From heartfelt cards to heart-shaped vibrators to completely ignoring what many consider a Hallmark holiday, there isn’t a wrong way to do Valentine’s Day. But whatever you decide to do, it’s important to know what you are looking for.
In a recent LELO survey of over 1,000 people, the results were pretty consistent. Across both genders, all ages, and most relationship statuses and cultures, between 65% and 90% of the people chose love over lust. And, contrary to gender stereotypes, this also included the majority of men, not just women.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Long-term attachment and bonding is critical to human life, both in terms of our physical survival, and our emotional well-being. Lust, on the other hand, is fun and exciting, but typically short-lived. Add to that the fact our world very often extols the virtues of love while downplaying or actively repressing or demonizing lust, and of course the majority of people would consider love more important.
But, that is not to say that lust doesn’t matter. Lust is often the spice of life, the adventure; not the mention, the thing that enables the continuation of the human species. Without lust, we’d all happily snuggle up to our loved ones, eating popcorn, and actually watching Netflix, never getting to the “chilling” part. Indeed, across all demographics in the LELO survey, there was always a substantial minority of people, somewhere between 10% and 35%, who chose lust over love.
In fact, there was one subsection of people who broke the pattern altogether: People in open relationships. Unlike their peers in other relationship statuses (including single, committed relationship, married/cohabiting, or “it’s complicated”), who overwhelmingly went for love over lust, 50% of men and 71% of women in an open relationship reported valuing lust more than love. This is no coincidence: The fact that lust is more important to these people is at least partly the reason why they are in open relationship. And the fact that there are more and more people willing to give such relationships a try– despite widespread cultural stigma— speaks to a changing tide in the social acceptance of lust as a legitimate desire.
That said, pitting love vs. lust is in many ways a false dichotomy. It implies that the more you want love, the less you want lust, and vice versa. As I explain it in greater detail in this post, that is simply not true. We humans need both. Because love and lust are not the endpoints of the same continuum; they are two separate and somewhat independent continuums. On a practical level, lust and love serve two distinct evolutionary functions: procreating vs. staying together long enough for any offspring to survive. On a psychological level, they satisfy two distinct cravings: excitement, adventure, risk taking, mystery, and danger VS. stability, safety, reliability, dependability, and belonging.
Of course, depending on our particular combination of genes, hormones, personal experiences, and cultural influences, some of us are more focused on one than the other. We can also be more focused on one or the other at different points in life: Often, when we’ve had a lot of reliability and safety, we start to crave some adventure, and after we’ve gotten lots of excitement and novelty, we start to crave security. But the vast majority of us need, crave, and enjoy both the crazy excitement of strong passionate sexual desire and the comforting warmth of love in order to live long, happy, and healthy lives.
All those people in open relationships are a great example of this: Lust is critical enough for them to go against the monogamy norm, but they wouldn’t be in a long-term relationship if they didn’t also value love.
So this Valentine’s Day, don’t worry too much about which one is the right thing to want and just be authentic in wanting what you want, without shame, without guilt. If it’s chocolate, buy some and let its aphrodisiac properties (real or imagined) work their magic. If it’s sex with toys, get yourself some particularly saucy toys for both you and whoever you want to use them with. Check out V-Day gift sets like the Alone Together or the Only You you available on LELO.com. And use the DRZHANA discount code for 20% off!
If it’s just to hit it and quit it, Tinder works all day, every day (and a small pocket vibrator, like the LELO MIA 2 or the LILY 2, fits into small purses and does wonders for clitoral stimulation). If it’s to enjoy a romantic night with your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend or wife, light some candles and romance the night away.
Just be your Authentic As Fuck sexual self.