I was a late bloomer when it came to both love and sex—but not by choice.

During high school I was shy and introverted. I remember I used to stand on the upper landing of the outdoor staircase as I waited for my next class to start. At the base of the staircase used to stand a pretty blond girl and her friend. The pretty girl would look up at me and smile, beckoning me to come talk to her. I never did.

I was nervous and anxious; What would I say to her? What would she think of me? What would others think if they saw me trying to pick up on her? Stupid, baseless worries.

After graduating from high school I ventured on a journey to find love, lust, and looking to get laid. Eventually my journeys took me to a Caribbean beach where I saw a vision: A dark-skinned beauty from Colombia. She was in a volleyball game I had joined. We were on the same team, but I spent all my time talking to her, ignoring the game.

Soon we fell in love and got married. She was my first love and the first woman I had sex with. The marriage didn’t last; we were both so young. But over 30 years later we still remain friends because of our love (companionate not romantic or Eros), respect and friendship.

There were more women as I fell in love quickly and easily. I loved to fall in love. What a great feeling, a great rush of adrenaline and pleasure. But that feeling is fleeting and I fell just as easily out of love.

I met another woman with whom I had a long term relationship, but that didn’t last as I was unsure of what I wanted in life and thus set off to “find myself.” Some 25 years later we still remain friends.

Needless to say, I had overcome my shyness with women. It came with experience, practice, and sometimes alcohol. I learned that beautiful women were people, too, and sometimes, because they were beautiful, they were more fragile and had more emotional baggage.

In due course I learned to distinguish between love and lust. True lasting love is selfless, giving, and unconditional. Lust is pleasure, fleeting, and external. That’s not to say that I still didn’t want both of those things in my life—I did!

Eventually I met my current wife. Lust is what attracted me to her—her physical beauty, her beautiful eyes. But true love, loving to be with her and being her best friend is what has kept us together.

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted and then to find it. Lust and sexual drive are powerful and often times override good judgment, logic, and common sense. They trap us, brainwash us, and leave us feeling used and empty.

On the other hand is the romance of love, of fantasy, and storybook dreams. We wish for the “right” person who will sweep us off our feet. We dream of the fairytale wedding, the ideal life and family, and the “happily ever after.”

The reality is that true happiness comes from inside us, we create it. We could be in the best relationship but not be happy. We could be single and alone, even though we wish for a meaningful relationship, and still be happy. Happiness, or the lack thereof, is based on our thoughts not outside forces.

I’ve come a long way from the nervous and anxious high school kid afraid to talk to girls. My journeys and experience have taught me the difference between love and lust. My worldly relationship advice to you is that you work on yourself and your own happiness first. When you are able to establish an indestructible happiness within you, then this will attract others to you. 

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