Have you ever dated someone but can’t figure out if it’s the real deal or just sexual chemistry and lust? For most of us, we can’t tell the difference between feeling lustful or falling in love, let alone have a constructive conversation together to work out where it’s going.
Lust is an intense sexual connection or attraction to another person. It’s like you’re magnetised towards a person with a focus on a physical connection. Lust is whirlwind, fast, intense, all-consuming and addictive. And often, our infatuation for someone is based on a fantasy of who we think they are and not on the reality of the person or situation. Think of it as a sex-induced sprint.
Love, on the other hand, is more complex. Love is the bond that keeps us connected to the people who matter most to us. A secure and loving relationship involves deep affection, trust, care and acceptance of each other, as you are, warts and all. A romantic marathon.
While falling in love with someone may include lust in the early stages, lust is not enough to sustain a relationship. As you go through stages of falling in love, you will want more as you become more attracted to their personality, and you will want to develop something with them and only them.
4 signs that it’s lust and not love
While whirlwind romances are fun and exciting, they’re not built to last. If the person you’re seeing is meant to be your next big love, why rush it? When it’s lust, you will want to know everything about them all at once. You’ll want to be all in all the time. You won’t be able to wait to get your next fix of them.
When it’s love, you’ll be far more interested in taking it slow. Allowing the romance to grow naturally, getting to know each other organically and giving each other space to be individuals.
You’ve got nothing in common
While the sexual chemistry is banging, you might find that there is nothing else there. But you’re so wrapped up in the passion that you might not notice there’s no commonalities, no shared values or outlook on life.
The most obvious sign that you’ve nothing in common is that you are either in the throes of passion, talking about sex, or only thinking about them in a sexual way. Everything is focused on sex. And that is lust, not love.
You might really like this person; they’re attractive, you feel comfortable in their company, and you love hanging out with them. But if you have different values, outlooks on life and lifestyles, it’s probably not got long term potential. I don’t mean that one of you likes coffee and the other prefers tea, or prefer different holidays. I mean, your views on family, goals, ambitions, health and fitness and lifestyle don’t match up. If there isn’t some alignment, then you are in lust and not love.
When you are falling for someone, there’s more to the conversation and your interactions than sex. You might want to rip each other’s clothes off constantly, but you can also connect on what you have in common. You share values. You are open to being vulnerable with each other to having deeper conversations.
You’re communication and connection is off
If you are connecting with someone that has potential, you’ll go through stages of falling in love. And yes, that does include lust. But there’s more to it. You’ll be attracted to their personality, who they are, their values, their outlook and how they treat you. The more you find out about them, the more you want to attach yourself to them, and only them. They make you feel at ease because they also want to feel at ease. There is a sense of safety, certainty and reassurance in the relationship.
Lust can feel like you don’t quite “get” each other, but you ignore it. Just because the sexual chemistry is there doesn’t mean the compatibility is. And you might think that’s ok, the compatibility will come in time. It won’t. If you feel like you are both constantly vying for each other’s attention, feeling uncertain in the relationship, or that you’re clutching at straws to find any sort of connection beyond sex, then it’s not love.
You forget about everything that’s important to you
What are the most important things to you? Friends, family, hobbies, interests, work? When you are infatuated with someone, it’s very easy to let all of these significant things fall by the wayside. You are happy to drop everything to spend time with them. And that’s how we lose parts of ourselves for someone else.
Love is all about compatibility. The very foundation of a good relationship is two whole people coming together. There is an understanding of what is important to each of you as individuals, an appreciation that you both have your own lives outside of the relationship. And there is space in the relationship for both of you to maintain what is important to each other.
Am I actually in love or just infatuated?
It’s really hard in the early days to decide if it’s lust or has the potential to become love. And while every relationship is different, especially when it comes to chemistry and connection. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are worried that you are infatuated with someone rather than creating a sustainable relationship.
Why are you interested in a relationship with them?
Lust is a sexual interest in the person. Love is an interest in getting to know all parts of the person over time.
Are you open to going deeper with them?
Lust keeps the relationship on an idealistic, almost fantasy, level. There’s no real depth. Love goes deeper. There are difficult conversations, sometimes challenging emotions, and there’s depth. Connection comes from being vulnerable with each other and sharing experiences with each other.
Have you explored their flaws?
Lust is surface level, and when we discover a person’s flaws, we lose interest. Love accepts all parts of a person – the good, the bad and the ugly. And love doesn’t shy away from the flaws.
Where does the excitement in the relationship come from?
Lust is all about the sexual connection, the fantasy and passion of being together. Love is far more vulnerable, risky and involves opening up and letting yourself be known. The excitement comes from feeling safe to be seen and heard. You feel safe to let the walls down.
How is the relationship developing over time?
Lust is fast and has a focus on immediate gratification. And the milestones are the next sexual encounter. Love is about developing trust and commitment over time. The milestones are focused on going deeper with each other and letting each other in.
Is there long-term potential?
Lust fades over time. Love persists.
Regardless of how your relationship started, only you can decide on whether it’s love or lust. Reflecting on whether the relationship is love or lust can only go so far. And it’s probably not even the right question.
The real question is, why are you questioning the relationship to begin with?
Notice the story about the relationship in your head, the thoughts and the concerns. Sometimes we are blind to love because of our past relationships. We hold on to old beliefs that block us from allowing love in. If you find yourself in a cycle of lust focused relationships, you might need to dive into your mindset around love, what you believe you are worthy of and what kind of love you are open to receiving.