Falling in love is easy. It’s sustaining the feelings that are the hard part. Now and then, someone comes along and turns your world upside down. They make your blood rush in all the right places and your belly flutter with butterflies. This heady feeling can either mean you are in the early stages of love or simply in lust.
Physical attraction can be strong for both emotions, but where one is interested in nurturing a more profound connection, the other is more interested in living it up now. Since they both feel like the real thing at first, what are the signs it’s lust, not love? I will discuss 23 ways to differentiate in this post. Read on.
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The connection you share with your partner in lust takes root in physical attraction. You fawn over your partner’s looks, and they are obsessed with your body. While that’s not a red flag in itself, love tends to do you both better; in addition to the physical, you two also want to connect on an emotional level.
Granted, you want to have sex with the person you are attracted to in both love and lust. However, where lovemaking is a means to an end (growing more intimate), with the former, it is an end itself for the latter.
When your relationship thrives on nothing but the physical, keeping the looks 100 becomes your only chance of feeding the connection. It’s like being on a perpetual mission to seduce. You feel like you have to continually look nice to keep the sexual attraction between you and your partner alive.
While love isn’t blind to looking good, too, it’s not the sole glue keeping you together. You don’t feel the need to put the utmost effort into your appearance all the time because you are that comfortable around each other.
Another sign you are in lust is when you are in love with the idea of having a partner rather than the real person in front of you. It makes your project what you want to see or need them to be and then runs with this idealized version rather than the real individual.
This must be where the saying “love is blind” comes from. This is because rather than seeing the other person’s faults and everything else that makes them human, you see someone without any faults. You forget that everyone who has come before started out this way, too, and hope that this one is as perfect as you need them to be.
What do you expect when you form a connection with a real person based on fantasy? Unlike with true love, your entire attraction to someone you lust after is rooted in this perfect image you have of them. Anything that doesn’t fit into the idealized narrative you’ve created in your mind can make everything come crashing down.
Whether that is beauty, power, money, or what have you if the thing that most captivates you about the person you are attracted to disappears today, would you still want them? If you can’t very well answer yes to that question, then it’s not love.
Another telling sign of lust is how fast things are moving between you. Where love tends to build up steadily with time, the other one is characterized by its suddenness and intensity. The flame burns bright and fast and often goes out just as quickly.
Everyone who’s ever been in love has experienced that all-consuming thrill that keeps you up at night and causes you to lose sleep can very well be lust. It feels a lot like the real deal. So, sometimes, there’s no way to tell the difference except with time.
For all of its allure and very real intensity, the feeling of lust only runs skin-deep. Like I mentioned earlier, the thrill is fueled by physical attraction and not much else. Everything from your conversations to other aspects of your interaction is all a means to an end, sex.
No one is interested in mundane stuff like really getting to know the other person beyond how they like to be touched and what they do for fun. Long-lasting love, on the other hand, seeks to dig beneath the beautiful. In other words, it wants to know what makes your person tick and connect on a level that stands after the electricity inevitably fades.
Speaking of conversations, what do you and your partner discuss when you are not sexting? If every attempt at communication almost always ends up with you two rolling in the hay, it may be because you don’t have much going between you besides that.
It’s all well and good at first, as long as you’re both getting yours, but if you’re afraid to broach a topic with your significant other because it’s not sexy enough? Or you are generally holding back on meaningful conversations because you are not “trying to ruin the flow,” those are all signs indicative of lust, not love.
Years of being in love and nurturing a relationship can produce couples who hardly argue. But not only are such couples rare, but they also put in the work both individually and as a unit to get to that stage. However, if you are just starting out with someone and you two never fight about anything, that does not make a healthy relationship.
That said, it’s actually easier than you would think not to have conflicts in a lustful relationship. What do you expect when both parties make a conscious effort to only show their best sides to their partner? You tend to let things slide more when you have no real investment in someone beyond the now, hence the dearth of dispute in lust-fueled interactions.
Still, given you are both human, it’s unrealistic to expect not to ever argue, even if you are both acting. You may both be afraid of expressing your true feelings, but there’s only so much a person can take, so one way or another, a conflict will happen sometimes.
Now, the way you both handle your fights when they come up is just as telling as any other sign. You see, relationships held together by love use conflict as an opportunity to learn more about each other and grow as a team. For that to happen, both parties have to be interested in getting to the root of the issue, which means getting in touch with and discussing uncomfortable emotions.
Given its superficial nature, this might be too much to ask of a lustful relationship, so arguments just end up getting swept under the rug instead.
A relationship fueled by lust can feel like you are floating in a continuum, whereas love is supposed to make you feel grounded. With the former, the only thing you can be sure of is how you make each other feel in the present.
Should something come between you like distance, you can never tell what your partner is thinking or how badly it’ll impact your relationship. Even great sex doesn’t guarantee you’ll continue to want each other because all it takes to lose interest is for you or your partner to get that impulse with someone else.
How many people have you fallen “in love” within your lifetime? How are things between you and them today? That’s the thing with emotions, no matter how strong or intense they feel in the moment. Only time can tell the real from the fickle.
Anything can make you desire someone, from hormones to grief, loneliness, and love, but only one of these makes you work to keep that longing alive. The effort that love makes you put into building intimacy and attachment is what makes it last beyond the giddy, chemistry-driven “in love” phase. Every other thing outside of that dissipates with time.
When you love someone and envisage yourself with them in the future, you want to do your best to make your two worlds one. That is, you want your loved ones to accept your person, and you want theirs to love you too.
On the flip side, lust feels moves like that make things too real. It’s much harder to stay in fantasyland when you’re meeting each other’s, less-than-perfect friends and family.
Are your best moments together bedroom-related? Does everything you do and say with each other begin and end with burning loins? You can’t hang out without ripping each other’s clothes off, texting turns sexual, even phone calls end in “what are you wearing” always?
A healthy level of sexual intimacy is certainly #goals between consenting adults, but there also has to be a balance if we’re talking about relationships. If what you have with your partner is marked solely by sexual gratification, you are almost certainly in lust and not love.
Never making your real intentions and feelings known, keeping communications strictly on the surface, not meeting each other’s friends and family, being cavalier about conflicts… Any of this ring a bell? These are all signs of lust we’ve already discussed, right?
You know what else those things mean, aside from the obvious? It’s that if those things define your relationship, one or both of you don’t see it going anywhere. You are only comfortable reveling in momentary pleasure (at the cost of building real intimacy) when longevity is not the goal.
This may sound absurd, but not being able to pass gas in front of your partner can be a red flag in a relationship. This is not to say breaking wind indiscriminately is the ultimate sign of true love, but if you feel comfortable enough to rip one beside your significant other, it shows a degree of closeness.
With lust, however, you’d sooner bite the dust than do something deemed so embarrassing in front of the person you are attracted to. Not because you don’t realize cutting the cheese is a totally human thing to do, it’s that it makes you seem less than perfect, and you are afraid they’ll get disillusioned.
Whether you are in love, lust, or infatuation, they all feel similar at first. You always look for an excuse to stay in contact, wanting to talk about nothing in particular and everything. However, what differentiates these emotions besides what your conversations are about is how long this desire lasts.
With lust, those talks are fueled by the longing of the loins. Whereas in love, you are doing it for more wholesome reasons like getting to know them. Unlike the latter, where the need to keep up reduces once the urge is sated, love tends to want to stay connected to build the attachment. If they go days without reaching out or only text back to make appointments, that isn’t love.
As you may have grabbed from the previous point, the motivation behind lust is always you and your needs. If what the other person wants aligns with yours, fine, and if not, then too bad. As long as whatever it is that attracts you to them — company, money, power, status, looks — is still doing it for you (vice-versa), you remain invested.
Unfortunately, as soon as you’re satisfied or someone else is able to meet those needs better, you begin to lose interest in your current partner. All that intensity goes out the window and into your next catch. Love, on the other hand, while also being interested in having its desires met, will not cut and run at the sight of a better prospect.
Do you know what makes lust and infatuation so fleeting? It’s that they thrive on the mystery. Like how you can have a raging crush on someone, and it all just goes out the window after one or two long conversations. Or how you have the hots for a person, and you lose interest after you’ve had a taste, without the sex necessarily being terrible.
It’s because it’s the mystery that really gets you going, something about our desire to get ungettable. As long as they are able to remain mysterious, lust and infatuation won’t stop trying. So, if you and your partner don’t really know each other because you’re always too busy getting to know each other’s body rather than as a whole, it’s most likely not love.
If you have a sexual relationship with someone or aspire to, and you see them getting cozy with someone else, it can naturally spark jealousy in you. However, when no real conversation has been had about where you both stand or whether they are permitted to do other people, all is fair.
Since this is often the case with lust-driven relationships, there is only so much you can do about that, even if you do have romantic interests in them. Until you’ve had the talk, the best claim you have to each other and what they do with their body is while you are inside each other.
When you have no real system for conflict resolution, any slight relationship problem can force you apart. This is often how things go down with lust, what with each party being too interested in keeping things purely superficial to have the hard talk.
Rather than kiss and makeup (as it should be in love), infatuation and lust would rather make excuses, wish the issues away, or just kiss without the making up part. Eventually, little troubles accumulate into big problems that finally drive an inevitable wedge between you.
Couples who can get silly with each other and talk about nothing and everything forever have something lust may be incapable of offering: friendship. Do you know what happens when your lover isn’t your friend? You find yourself needing to fill the space with something, anything because silences become so awkward.
You can’t discuss random things unless they align with the bubble of perfection you have knowingly or unknowingly created for yourselves. You can’t share secrets, except maybe the fact that you’re doing the unthinkable together in the bedroom. You don’t make time for each other unless you’re horny and sure as hell can’t expect your partner to stick around in rocky times.
Your willingness — or lack thereof — to go the extra mile can also shine a light on the difference between lust and love. The only thing you can expect the former to work hard at is keeping your bedroom affairs going for as long as you’ll both have each other.
Every other thing, like really getting to know each other (the good, bad, and unsexy detail) and staying dedicated to one another, flaws and all, are a bit out of lust’s ballpark.
Finally, if you find yourself continually having to keep mum about things that bother you in the person you like or afraid to challenge the status quo, that’s not love. Better yet, if you speak up about those things and your relationship actually goes under because of it, then, it’s definitely not love.
And that is the ultimate difference between lust and love, where one can take being called out and acts accordingly, the other, not so much. Hopefully, by now, you can tell which is which.
Where love opts to get to know the individual, lust creates an idealized version of you and runs with it. Both feelings can be intense at first, but unlike love that tries to build an emotional foundation along with physical interactions, lust is only interested in more immediate pleasures.
Lust is not so much stronger than love as it is sudden. The feelings come all at once, firing your body up instantaneously like a drug, whereas love takes its time to build a long-lasting foundation of intimacy. Something to fall back on when the rush of sex and other physical desires recedes.
Someone who is thinking of you sexually will make moves that indicate they want to have sex with you. Their looks and touches would linger, and they will find a way to turn most, if not all, conversations you have sexual.
A guy who really loves you will respect you and often put your satisfaction before his. He wouldn’t just be interested in features that most people find attractive about you, but also the part of you that you don’t share with other people.
Yes, lust and love can be mistaken for one another, especially in the early stages of your interaction with someone. The best way to tell them apart is that where lust is often limited to physical attraction, love is more all-encompassing, seeking both physical and emotional connections and everything in-between.
There, you have it. I hope this list helps solve your little problem of categorizing your emotions or that of your partner. Nevertheless, rather than obsess over slapping a name on your feelings, I’d be more concerned with getting on the same page with this other person.
So, if any of the above signs confirm your gut feeling, a conversation might be in order. As always, kindly let me know your thoughts in the comments and share the post with other lovers if you liked it.