charlie and pauletteWhat happens when you meet someone through a sexual experience and then discover that there might be more…much more.

How do you turn sex into love?

Or can you?

As a psychotherapist, I encourage my clients to see a good relationship as a marriage (pun intended) of mind, heart and libido. If any one of these is left out, good luck!

When you let your libido lead you into sex with someone, tell the truth about it: your libido was in charge! And we’ve all been there. But what happens when what started off as just a sex hook-up becomes more: when your heart and mind start to get involved? Wow! What a great surprise, isn’t it?

I think that a lot of us really want a long-term relationship, but we settle for sex. We settle for sex because we think that it’s easier. In some ways, maybe it is. It may be easier to go from one hookup to another, with little emotional outlay and minimal connection. But, in reality, this is hard on our psyche.

By keeping our heart closed, we avoid anything that’s really satisfying. By just hooking up, we avoid getting to know someone and miss out on the depth of a real, meaningful connection. And yet, in my office, I hear many men and women say “I just want to keep it light”. And, you know, that may be fine. FOR A WHILE. But it’s a poor long term strategy.

If you’re coming out of a 10-year relationship, then, by all means, keep it light for a while. But if you’ve had a year or two (or more) of keeping it light, aren’t you getting tired of all that meaningless (if amusing) sex?

More than once, I’ve heard of two people who met up for a hook-up and then wanted to get to know each other better. They were surprised that their hearts connected and that their brains were coming along for the ride too.

If this happens to you, and you wonder how a hook-up can open your heart, start by paying attention to yourself. Notice what’s going on with you. Look inward and consider these questions:

What is your heart saying?

Do you hear your heart beating faster?

Is your heart saying that there could be deep feelings here?

When you think of this man/woman, is your heart happy? Is it singing? No, not in that fake Hollywood movie kind of way, but in a warm, tender, sweet vulnerable way. That’s real.

Notice your thoughts. What is your head saying? This can be harder to identify, because our mind can be our best friend or worst enemy. If you are thinking clearly and not coming from fear or scars from past relationships, your mind might be saying, “Hey, you know, there is potential here for more than I expected…he might be a really great guy…why not see what’s possible”.

On the other hand, if you are one of the walking wounded (we all live there part time, like a time-share condo) you might think, “Oh yeah, right, like this hook-up is going to turn into a deep, meaningful relationship. Don’t be an idiot, it’s just sex. You got off, move on!” You might even hear both voices inside your head: not unusual. These voices can create internal debates that paralyze us from taking any action. Don’t go there.

Sometimes, we have a longing for a real relationship – a deep connection – but, at the same time, we’re terrified of it.

That’s actually quite normal. Most of us have ambivalence about opening up our hearts. After all, there’s a lot of risk, isn’t there? Along with the possibility for great joy comes the potential for heartbreak. And yet…what else is there really?

It’s all a risk, and we’re big, strong men and women and we can take it, even if we get hurt. So, by all means, enjoy your hook-ups (and keep them safe), but be open to the potential for more. You never know when someone you meet for sex turns out to offer you more.

Much more. Why not push the envelope and go for it?

Your heart may thank you.