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Is it love or lust? I’m confused! || IIT Patna (2021)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Questioner (Q): My question is about relationships. As a boy I might get attracted towards a girl, but eventually that girl may become a close friend of mine. How can I know whether the feeling I have for the other is true love or just physical desire, like infatuation?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Aren’t you the best judge? Don’t you already know? You must be having male friends as well, so you know what a relationship that does not involve physical attraction feels like. I am assuming here that you are not physically attracted towards your male friends. Now, here is your female friend, and if you are thinking a lot about her physicality, then this in itself is clear proof that the relation has a strong physical dimension. So, that is sufficient.

What are you relating to the other as and what is it in the other person that you feel attracted to or related to? What is the direction of your thoughts? What are you wanting from that person? When you think of that person, how do you think of that person? And if you think a lot of that person as the body, then you know that the relationship has a strong bodily component; that’s all.

Q: If I am not able to differentiate between these feelings, I might end up with a breakup. How do I deal with that breakup and come back to the original state?

AP: See, one doesn’t break up with friends. Have you ever heard the use of the term ‘breakup’ between friends?

Q: No.

AP: If the relationship is really healthy, a person to person relationship, then the relationship may change course, the relationship may change color, the strength of the relationship, the warmth in the relationship may increase or decrease. But this sort of a thing like total breakup is hardly a possibility. If breakup involves a total severing of the relationship, “I will not speak to you, you will not speak to me anymore,” then why would anybody want to do such a thing? After all, there was something in the person—I am assuming there must have been something in the person—that you recently found valuable, right? How is it that that valuable thing is no longer of any value?

So, a thing like breakup can happen only when there is a shop-and-customer kind of relationship. As a customer you enter a shop, and you don’t find what you desire there, or if you don’t find your desired stuff at an affordable price, then you just walk out. Now, this walking out is a breakup, because you won’t turn back to even look at that shop again; you will now hunt for another shop where you get what you desire.

So, this breakup thing is something that I have never quite fathomed, because it is a thing that can happen only in very low quality relationships. Friendship cannot really end in breakups. I said that the color of friendship can change, everything about it can change, but still a minimal relationship at least would remain. If there is a total disjoining, then it tells something about how the relationship itself was in the first place. And how was it? Not healthy.

So, have healthy relationships. And what do I mean by a healthy relationship? A relationship is healthy when you are not with the other to consume the other, when your objective is not really to extract something from the other; instead, you are with the other for the others welfare, and the other is with you for your welfare. The two of you are not looking for some kind of exploitation of each other. Even if it is mutual exploitation with consent, or even if it looks more like a trade-off rather than exploitation, still it is unhealthy.

So, have good relationships. Any person, male or female, is worth far more than the body, right? If the body remains and that person is worth nothing more, you will very soon find that you don’t want to have much to do with that person.

So, go for intelligence, go for innocence, go for qualities in a person that make him loveable and admirable. Those are the things that really mean something, right? And then you won’t be so torn within. And then we won’t have people who move into one relationship after the other, ending one relationship, initiating the other, and so on and so forth. This is just shopping of some kind.

When you shop for people, then you have reduced them to unconscious entities; you have reduced them to dead material. And that is very disrespectful, disrespectful to them and also disrespectful to yourself. Don’t do that.

Q: I have a general question. Most of the students are going into the dark world of pornography. Could you please advise how these students can avoid pornography and achieve their goals?

AP: Have something to do in life. What other advice can be given? If you will have nothing else that deeply interests you, if you have nothing that really awakens and excites you from within, if nothing of higher order will be available, then in the desperation to somehow entertain yourself a little, you will turn to pornography and you will start playing with your own body and do all these things. These things might not be dangerous or condemnable in themselves, but what they surely indicate is that the person has a lot of spare time and purposelessness.

You are a young man, you have energy, and you can be adventurous. There is so much in the world waiting for you. You can know, you can talk, and when the lockdown permits, you can travel. You can read, you must read. You can gain skills, right? There is so much in life available to you, great and beautiful things; they are all open to you. Why isn’t your time going there?

Right now, when your body is favoring you, why don’t you spend all your energy mastering a sport? And then when you will return to your bed in the night thoroughly tired, then you will have no passion for stuff like pornography and all, and even if it is there, it will be greatly reduced. But when you are almost living a good-for-nothing life, the entire day is vacant, and you have not given yourself any great challenge to live for, then you feel especially attracted to those “dark” things that you talked of.

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