Because sexual desire and love may both be passionate and all-consuming, it may be difficult to distinguish between them in terms of intensity. The key feature is the substance behind the feeling. Generally, sexual desire is narrowly focused and rather easily discharged while love is a more complex and constant emotion. In pure, unadulterated sexual desire, the elements of caring and respect are minimal, perhaps present as an afterthought, but not a central part of the feeling. The desire to know the other person is defined in only a physical or sensual way, not in a spiritual one. While love may include a passionate yearning for sexual union, respect for the loved one is a primary concern. Respect allows us to value a loved one’s identity and integrity and thus prevents us from selfishly exploiting them.

— Masters and Johnson

This morning, I have spent 3 hours in an intense mental conflict. I am smitten by a Muslim man and his thoughts hover in my mind all day and night, until I get off to sleep. I have also a real life partner and thus I’m restrained in my public expression of my newfound fascination. I cannot meet him whenever I feel like; I cannot talk to him at any time. This oppression is a major reason, why I found myself fixated on this man. The more you are not permitted to have something, the more ardent your desire becomes towards it.

I like this new man in my life for a lot more reasons: he is a Muslim and I like the idea of cross-religion romance; life is all about newness, how you discover new shades and patterns in the same routine and mundane life. Living with a person from a different religion offers you a chance to learn a new culture, language, cuisines, faith, beliefs, attires, rituals, festivals, and so on. I do not get tired with a person unless I cease to learn and grow with him. And this is an insecurity I guard against by making conscious choices that do not make me bored in long run. Having a lover from another religion can keep alive this freshness in life to an extent.

I’m also in love with Urdu; the refined language of the Nizams and Nawabs. This man is well versed in Urdu prose and poetries. In him, I found a rare companion to bring out the subtle tastes of language in our communication. I use the rich lexicon of Urdu when I talk to him and he reciprocates it in the same breadth. It feels amazing that even a common fondness for language can shine love in our hearts. Except that this is what I felt and not him.

I make choices of falling in love, very early in my relationship. With my partner, I started loving him within a day of our meet. Same thing happened in my other relationships. Love at first sight as we call it; except that my descent from love happens in the equally quick measure. The fire is as quick to ignite as it is to extinguish. But important thing is that I’m in awareness of it. I know what I want and what I do not have. I want desire in love but alas! I have discovered that both do not go together. You only desire something which you do not have and once you start owning it, your desire ceases for that thing. But when I desire someone, love automatically falls in place. So I can desire a person and love him too but I cannot love a person and desire him at the same time. Desire is all-encompassing for me.

In my desire and resulting love for that person; I thought about his grief. I felt grief in his unsaid grief. His mother passed away when he was quite young. It must be tough for him as a child. I could feel his sorrow even though he doesn’t express it. There must be some distortion in his life because of this void. Once at late night, I was cradling my child to sleep, singing lullabies and gently caressing his hair. I mused about this man. He has not got a motherly touch since the age of 15 when his mother had left him. I felt a sharp tinge in my heart for his pain. I decided that the next time I meet him, I will lay his head on my lap and lavish his forehead with soft caresses; I will smoothen his curls with a gentle press of my palm, and then we will kiss under the canopy of Tulip Poplar tree.

Alas! This dream remains unfulfilled. I was shaken to reality from this ennui by my partner who showed me the stark difference between my perspective and that man’s. He said that he does not object to me kissing or becoming intimate with another man but that man should have right intentions for me. I did not believe him but decided to test my partner’s argument on the real-life incidents I had with this man. And my partner was right!

That day I went for office hunting for my start-up. I had a meagre budget so I had to settle for a co-working space, 10 kms away from home. It was mid-afternoon and sun glared on my forehead as I walked alone on that street to save some autorickshaw money. I reached the place and was all disappointed to see the crammed up space. There were scattered groups of staff from different companies who were shouting at the top of their voice. I came back home dejected. That co-working space was the last option and closest-fit to my budget. I called up that man and shared my distress to which he said:

“Don’t worry it will be fine.”

This is the moment of realization for me. If he had been supportive and respectful for me, he could have offered help instead of ignoring the issue flat on its face. He could have come with me and hunted for co-working options. He did nothing of that sort. He is not interested, in my troubles and my struggles. He just wants to fit in a sub-set in the whole of my life, enjoying moments together; having dinner together; kissing and making love. He wants my happiness but is not keen to share my sadness. Thus in awareness of this truth, with great difficulty, amidst tears I’m disconnecting with this man as a potential romantic partner.

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