Do you have a hard time telling the difference between lust and love? It can be really easy to confuse the two. Our society is full of mixed messages about love and sexual attraction. The two concepts are often heavily interwoven. This has led many people to be confused about the nature of lust and love and think they are the same thing. We all make decisions about relationships and sexual activities based on what we feel as well as what we think and hope for those interactions.
The tricky part of teasing out the difference between lust and love is that sometimes they can happily go together quite well. In an ideal romantic relationship, we would feel both for our partner. Confusion between lust and love can lead to some poor choices that end in hurt feelings or even abusive relationships. We need to understand the difference between the two so we can make informed choices.
What is Lust?
Lust is often a very intense form of attraction that relies mostly on the physical attributes of a person. It is the base and primal desire fueled by our hormones and clouds our judgment. Extreme lust can sometimes be seen as an obsession because at its height, it can cause us to ignore signs that could spell trouble for us. We get caught up in the fantasy and idealization of the other person. We see the focal person of our lust how we wish to see them and often not how they actually are.
This intense attraction can also cause people to drop everything else in their lives or just let those things fall to the wayside. In some cases, this happens even for things that were previously significantly important. Lust can make a person feel like nothing is more important than the person they are lusting after. It’s not always the case but it can be a warning sign that a person’s feelings are more based on lust than love.
Some other signs of lust can include
- The desire to keep the relationship on a fantasy level and not discuss real feelings
- Being totally focused on a person’s looks and body
- Only being interested in sexual activities but little interest in conversation or other activities not related to sex
- You are lovers but not really friends
- You are quick to leave after sexual activity rather than staying to cuddle or enjoy the company of the other person
Lust can be an important aspect of a romantic attachment because its often what’s considered to be the exciting part of the relationship. It can be what makes our heart race and give us a thrill when we see our partner. It can wax and wane in any relationship, even if love is present. Usually, when lust runs its course and drops off, relationships that haven’t established any emotional connection start experiencing problems. People get impatient with the faults of their partners that they previously ignored. For some, it can signal the end of the romantic relationship.
What is Love?
Love, in contrast, tends to be more of an emotional romantic connection to someone. We are more realistic in our perceptions of our partner and any faults they may have. Instead of the fast-paced and dizzying highs that lust can push us through, love feels more grounded and steady. We are able to create a safe space with our partners to be emotionally vulnerable in a way that most people can’t be with someone they don’t love.
When we love someone, we have a strong foundation of friendship with them as well. Often this means sharing certain interests, passions, worldviews, morals, and more. Our connection to our partner doesn’t have to be totally seamless but we often feel they are a good fit for us. We care about their wellbeing beyond the sexual activity we share with them. We care about their mental, emotional, and physical health and wellbeing.
Some common signs of love can include
- Wanting to spend quality time together doing things other than sex
- Being able to communicate with each other and get lost in conversation
- Honestly listening to each other’s feelings
- Supporting each other in times of need
- Your partner motivates you to be a better person
- You are out as a couple to family and friends
For most people, love is the crucial ingredient required for long-term romantic happiness in a relationship. It’s what most people dream of and look for, sometimes for most of their lives. One of the great things about love is that it stands the test of time. You don’t need to rush through courtship with your partner. If they are meant to be the love of your life, they will be. Rushing through the relationship to serious commitment won’t make that happen any faster.
Is it Love?
Every kind of love we experience will be a bit different because we continue to grow and change throughout our lives. Who we are today isn’t who we were yesterday. We have grown and learned from yesterday’s experiences. So if love always feels a bit different, how can we know if it’s love?
Important people close to us can offer their opinion as an outsider based on their observations of behavior. It’s important we listen to those opinions from important people in our lives. They may have valuable insights that we might have missed, particularly if we are caught in the throes of lust and passion. Don’t discount those opinions but instead take them into consideration, especially if you’re hearing the same thing from multiple people close to you. They can be a guide to helping you explore your own feelings.
Examining how you feel on your own is also key. It can be difficult but it’s important that you try to stay emotionally centered and pay attention to that internal voice. Some people refer to it as listening to their gut. This can be really difficult if your hormones are surging but it’s really essential in making healthy relationship decisions.
If you feel drained after spending time with your partner or you feel like your attraction is a dark, destructive, or unstoppable force it can be a warning sign that this could spell trouble for you. If your gut feeling is putting you on guard or if you are uncomfortable with how your partner is treating you listen to that. Some people may be afraid of pushing their partner away if they say something but it is often these early warning signs that can save us from heartache or abuse. If you are feeling these things, don’t let hormones trick you into believing it is love.
Love Doesn’t Make You Lose Your Head
The biggest difference between lust and love is that love doesn’t make us lose our heads. Lust can be a wonderful thing because it’s exciting. It doesn’t always end in somewhere bad but it can if we don’t recognize lust for what it is. When we make choices about our romantic lives, we should be able to make those choices with open eyes and sound minds.
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