Is this love or lust?

I love your column. There are so many entries about how to conduct yourself in a relationship. My problem is that I don't really know how to have a relationship, and that I want one with a younger man I recently met. The man is a dreamboat -- smart, funny, witty, handsome, driven, and a successful actor. He is five years younger than I am (he is in his mid-20s). We have intense physical and mental chemistry. We've only been out five or more times and were intimate on our second date (which was amazing). Now I can't do anything except think about him. I want to see him and be with him all of the time. I know I really want a relationship because I haven't had a serious relationship ... basically ever. The actor and I have discussed our past dating history. He knows where I'm coming from, and we agreed that we wouldn't put any pressure on the relationship and would see how things go. He doesn't seem like a player -- but I am so skeptical.

He continually stops by my place but also has joked that he is fine with me "until someone better comes along." He really seems to like being with me and is very emotionally and physically aware of how great our chemistry is when we are together. When we are apart, however, he doesn't go out of his way to ask me how I'm doing, and he's not taking me out for dinners and walks along the harbor (I'm a romantic, can you tell?).

I have dated men who have "wined and dined" me, however the chemistry was never there. With this younger man, the chemistry is there but I am pessimistic about whether he will want a mature relationship or one that makes me feel emotionally fulfilled and loved. Am I wasting my time? Should I stick through it and possibly get hurt in the end? (Did I mention he is very sexy and verrrry attractive???)

Thanks, Meredith...

– In Lust or In Love?, Boston

You're in lust and it sounds fantastic, ILOIL.

Not every relationship is meant to go the distance. And sometimes we get hurt by the mature guys who wine and dine us. All I know is that you're enjoying this, so by all means continue.

Usually relationships like this run their course in their own time. Yours will either get deeper and more satisfying ... or it'll start to feel very, very shallow, and the actor's verrrry attractive face will become less stunning because your emotional needs will begin to cancel out the physical.

I don't like his "until someone better comes along" joke, but I assume it's just a joke. It's certainly not a deal-breaker, because frankly, after five dates or so, you don't know whether you might dump him if someone better comes along.

You want this right now and you're learning, which means it's not a waste of time. Go have fun. Stare at the phone. Make out with your very sexy actor. Just stay on top of your feelings and be honest with yourself if/when the relationship turns from exciting to tiring. And in the meantime, if you want to take a long walk by the harbor, just ask. He's learning too. Be clear about your needs.

Readers? Is there any potential here? Does there have to be? What about his not-so-nice joke? Is this just a fling? Is it relevant that he's an actor? Is she as inexperienced as she thinks she is? Help.

– Meredith