Is It Love or Lust? How to Recognise the Difference

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Love and lust are two intense feelings, and differentiating between the two can be difficult—but not impossible. This article addresses the concept of love vs lust and outlines the signs that will help you know the difference.

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Love and Lust

Before listing detailed differences between love and lust, we need to understand their concepts.

Love, Defined

Love is a more profound, complicated phenomenon than lust, which involves compassionate and passionate love. Compassionate love doesn’t include sexual attraction, while passionate love involves a strong sexual attraction and other sensations.

Lust, Defined

What is lust? Lust is the body’s hormonal response whenever we encounter someone we consider attractive. It’s a strong physical attraction towards another person, motivated by a desire for sexual satisfaction. The simplest explanation of lust is the sexual drive that encourages us to find the most attractive sexual partner for us—an intense, purely biological desire or enthusiasm, making it quite different from love.

So what does lust mean in a relationship? This article aims to explain passionate, romantic love, attraction and infatuation, and the desire to be physically intimate with that special someone.

DID YOU KNOW? Scientific studies have proven that when a person is in love, their brain emulates one that is on cocaine. But this is only true for the initial stages of the love haze. Over time, the euphoric sensations fade, and the brain returns to functioning normally.

Love vs Lust Compared

As previously noted, love and lust are two similar sensations. The neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine are activated in the brain, which can cause addictive behaviour—seen in both love and lust.

This is not to say that they’re identical or that one cannot exist with the other. You can feel love without lust and vice versa. You can also feel both simultaneously and for the same person. Knowing the difference between the two is essential because not only can it help you get in touch with your feelings, but it can also tell you where your relationship is going.

How Do They Differ?

The main difference between love and lust is that love involves a powerful emotional behaviour, function, or drive. Being in love with a person incites a high level of attachment, care, and understanding. When in love, people are concerned for one another’s well-being and overall happiness and seek long-term commitment.

Lust vs love can also be practically explained in your relationship. Love is wanting to know everything about the other person, sharing intimate details, and wanting to spend time with them everywhere and in every situation. But if you only want to stay in bed with your partner, this is more than likely lust.

DID YOU KNOW? Expanding your social circle is one of the best ways to find love. The more people you meet, the more likely it is that you’ll find someone that catches your eye and vice versa. And if this doesn’t work, you can get online, where there are plenty of great dating sites.

Is It Love or Lust? 12 Ways to Tell the Difference

We’ve established that love and lust are different from one another. Now consider the following 12 ways to help you recognise lust and love.

#1 Lust Is Physical. Love Is Spiritual.

The first and strongest sign of lust is physical attraction. Sometimes, this is the only thing that keeps a relationship afloat. Love, however, is much more than that. Bonding on a spiritual level is indicative of those in love, in addition to the physical intimacy they share. Their mental and emotional aspects sync, connecting on a deeper level.

#2 Lust Is in the Present. Love Looks to the Future.

Another difference between lust and love is that lust is grounded in the present, while love looks ahead to the future. If you find yourself making plans with your partner, envisioning a shared future, and using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, it indicates that you’re in love and not just lusting after them.

#3 Lust Is Ignorant. Love Is Empathetic.

When people only feel lust for one another, they’ll only focus on the physical aspect of the relationship and not the other person’s problems or hardships. Love, on the other hand, involves much empathy. You feel the other person’s pain and want to help them in any way possible.

#4 Lust Is Closed Off. Love Is Vulnerable.

If you wonder, is it lust or love, ask yourself: Are you willing to show yourself vulnerable before your significant other? Vulnerability is a sign of love. If you find yourself ready to open up to the other person and discuss intimate details of your life, this indicates that what you feel is more than lust.

#5 Lust Is Covert. Love Is Transparent.

If the only thing holding you together is lust, you won’t have the desire to go out in public together and introduce your partner to others close to you—much less meet them for a night out. But when you compare love vs. lust, you realise that you want to let the whole world know of your love for your partner.

#6 Lust Doesn’t Motivate. Love Challenges.

When someone feels lust, they’re not interested in the other person’s growth and development. They don’t care about their improvement and don’t motivate them to do better. The opposite is true with love. Love challenges us to be better. When someone loves you, they give you the motivation and support you need to become a better person.

#7 Lust Avoids Conflict. Love Overcomes Discord.

What’s the difference between love and lust? One of the most apparent differences lies in how two lovers manage conflict. If there’s only lust between them, they’ll avoid discord at all costs. But if they’re in love, they’ll embrace the conflict, resolve it, and commit to being there for each other in the future.

#8 Lust Avoids Flaws. Love Accepts Imperfections.

There is no perfect person. And how you approach this reality can tell you whether you’re feeling love or lust. If you find yourself avoiding your partner’s flaws because you’re bothered by them, then these are signs of lust in a man and a woman. But if you’re aware of your partner’s flaws and accept them, then this is a sign of love.

#9 Lust Is Based on Physical Appearance. Love Doesn’t Depend on Looks.

Lust’s primary driving force is physical appearance. A person’s physique determines whether or not they’re attracted to them. But love goes further than mere appearance. Love means that you’re attracted to every aspect of your partner, including personality, mind, and soul.

#10 Lust Is Rushed. Love Is Patient.

Does he love or lust after me? Are they patient with you? When you feel lust, you feel pressured, rushed, even irritated. If the other person doesn’t immediately satisfy your needs, you lose interest. Love is patient and willing to wait as long as it takes to be with that special someone.

#11 Lust Takes. Love Gives.

Lust is selfish. When you’re lusting after someone, you only care about your needs and wants. Love is selfless. When you genuinely love someone, you’re willing to put their wellbeing before yours and do everything it takes to make them happy—even if it means giving more than you get in return.

#12 Lust Is Unchanging. Love Grows and Evolves.

So what is the difference between love and lust? It’s crucial to remember that the feeling of lust remains the same and doesn’t change over time. But feelings of love evolve and grow deeper over time. When you’re in love, you want to develop a long-term commitment. But if you lust, you’re okay with a short fling.

DID YOU KNOW? Commitment issues are a problem for many couples. But just because someone has a fear of commitment, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. Those with commitment issues are capable of love, too.

Key Takeaways

Lust is a strong physical desire, while love adds an emotional component to the attraction.
Love and lust are similar, but the main difference is love seeks more than physical intimacy.
You can feel both love and lust simultaneously and for the same person.
Lust can turn into love, but not always. It can also fade after some time.

Lust or Love: Is One Better Than the Other?

Is love better than lust or vice versa? One cannot be classified as being better than the other. Even though they’re similar and share some of the same traits, one should not be considered superior.

It may be thought that lust is inferior to love because it’s merely based on physical attraction and passion. But the feeling of lust is just as natural and valid as love. You can feel both simultaneously and not concern yourself with the question, what is the difference between lust and love. They’re not mutually exclusive.

Love is also built on compatibility and generates a stronger sense of security. But sometimes, people just want to feel attractive and desired. In these situations, lust is a natural sentiment. So be happy with whatever it is you’re feeling.

DID YOU KNOW? The initial phases of love include attraction and infatuation. Once you go through these stages, you can say you’re in love. But love isn’t one-dimensional. There are many ways to love someone and even love two people at the same time.

Can Lust Turn Into Love?

Lust doesn’t last forever. So how long does lust last? This depends on the person and couple in question. Lust can last only a few days or weeks, but it can also last up to two years. But what happens once lust is gone? Does it turn into love?

What is lust and love in correlation to one another? Lust can turn into love, but there’s no guarantee that it will. Sometimes lust simply fizzles out, and there’s nothing left to connect the two people. In some cases, people develop feelings for each other, and lust grows and becomes something more. But keep in mind that you can’t be sure that the relationship that evolved from lust will continue to develop and grow.

DID YOU KNOW? When a man makes plans with you and cancels everything else to be with you, you can be sure that he loves you. And if he confides in you and keeps his word, you’ve got yourself a keeper.

Conclusion

Love and lust are both desirable feelings and come with their set of benefits. They are, however, very similar and difficult to tell apart. But if you observe the telltale signs we’ve mentioned, you can know the differences. And remember, whatever it is you’re feeling, there’s no winner in the lust vs love competition.

FAQ

Is lust stronger than love?

Lust is not stronger than love. It may be felt as a more intense sensation, but love is more secure and long-lasting, and the bond it creates is stronger.

Can love be mistaken for lust?

Lust can be confused with young love or love that develops in the infatuation stage of a relationship. But after some time, love is calmer and cannot be confused with lust.

How long does lust last in a relationship?

When comparing love vs lust, lust has a shorter life than love. Lust can survive about two years—after which it either evolves into a long-lasting relationship or fades. Love, on the other hand, can last a lifetime.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I've loved writing since I can remember, and back in high school, I started loving psychology as well. So I majored in it while dabbling in spirituality and yoga on the side.

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