Most of us have been in a situation where we are telling our friend about this one person, who we recently met and have started liking his/her’s looks, habits, persona, etc and then your friend suddenly questions- ‘are you sure that you love this person and it is not just another sexual attraction?’
This puzzle always leaves you wondering whether you are genuinely in love with the person or do you merely have desires for them!!
When we meet someone we are so attracted to them that even in their absence we keep thinking about them, imagine ourselves with them, wait for their text reply, and in their presence, we blush and our knees buckle. As we engage with them more, we often think that this person is ‘The One’ and that we cannot wake up next to anyone else.
Does did mean that you are in love? Or is it just lust?
Scientists often state that one cannot differentiate between the two easily because sex releases all sort of chemicals in the brain that generates great pleasure. We often tend to mistake this sexual pleasure with an emotional attachment to a person.
Here are some points that you can keep in mind and conclude if you are in love or is it just lust:
1. PHYSICAL ATTRACTION VS EMOTIONAL CONNECT
While the scientific study says that there are stages of love and lust is an essential part of it, it also mentions that it is not a necessary case. As Dr. Racine Henry explains that ‘Lust is about a physical or sexual attraction whereas love might encompass lust, but it is more emotional and is about actually caring for the other person.’
In lust due to excessive rush of hormones, you have an uncontrollable urge of sexual desires. This is because of physical attraction. Love, on the other hand, is an emotional attraction and a deep feeling of affection for a person. It means that you want to spend time with the person and listen to their problems and expect them to listen to yours.
In lust, you are only focused on the person’s exterior body and looks and not concerned with how the person is from the inside.
2. NATURE OF LOVE AND LUST
Psychologists and sex therapists across the world have tried to distinguish between the nature of love and lust. Sex therapist Janet Brito says that lust is an instant pleasure marked by an overwhelming need for indulgence. Some say that a person with lust has partners that can be in and out in one night, in other words, unsatisfying hookups.
Psychologist Shannon Chavez says that ‘lust is a rollercoaster driven by biological forces. Like every other ride it to comes to an end. Lust with time fades away.’ Clinical psychologist Ryan Howes states that lust is a state of mind that focuses only on the body, power of seduction, and visual excitement.
Love, on the other hand, means acceptance. It is a long-distance ride demanding commitment and patience. As love is rooted in attachment it grows over time and has the potential to last forever. It feeds into the holistic development of a person. Love is a risky and scary emotional feeling.
It demands from you to trust your companion completely with your fears, goals, moments of achievements and failures, etc. It challenges you to let down your guards and let your companion explore you completely.
3. NATURE OF YOUR CONVERSATIONS
Conversations are an essential part of any relationship. Be it with your parents, friends, siblings, or partner. The nature of your conversations can assist in distinguishing between love and lust.
Dr. Judith Orloff asserts that when it just about lust, conversations don’t matter.
What matters is sex and intimate talking only. In love, you get lost in the conversations and forget about the passing hours. Two people deeply in lust, will spend their whole night in each other’s company with little to no conversation. People in love would stay up all night to know what is going in the other person’s head. They talk about everything and anything. They will try to understand the other person. Their problems, interests, ideologies, future goals, etc.
4. YOUR ACTIONS
Do you ever look at a person and wonder how life would be without this person? If yes, then you are most probably in love. Your actions are a reflection of what is there in your heart. If your heart truly desires a person the way they are, then it will be visible in your actions.
Your small gestures make a lot of difference. When you lust over a person, keeping your hands to yourself becomes a challenge. However, a person in love would respect your personal space, and rather than executing intimate touches all the time would do things that make you feel comfortable and loved. For example, a person with lust would want you to leave immediately after sex or the very next morning. On the other hand, a person in love would want to stay with them the whole day and cuddle.
Your willingness and efforts to make a person intrinsically happy make a lot of difference. You want to listen to each other’s feelings and make each other happy.
5. KNOWING YOUR PARTNER’S FLAWS AND STRENGTHS
There are some people in our lives that we know so well. We know their flaws, internal and external, and their strengths. As mentioned before, conversations and actions are a reflection of what a person is feeling. A person in love, after investing their time on another person can see past their exterior demeanor. They know how the other person is feeling, they know their insecurities, their aspirations, their mechanism to cope with a certain situation, their needs, and wants.
However, a person with high lust will not invest time in knowing who you are. Neither would you if you are lusting over someone. In lust, the only thing that matters is a short-lasting bodily pleasure. You cannot look beyond a person’s external looks, not that you want to.
If you truly love a person you will know what they want or need in life or from you. If it is just lust, you will only know what you need from them. You motivate the person to be better version of themselves at the same time you aren’t afraid to be vulnerable in-front of your partner.
6. PLANING A FUTURE
Fantasies play an important role in helping us understand if it is love or lust. When you lust over a person, you enjoy spending time with them. You look forward to meeting them and doing what you desire or plan for the night. However, you will not daydream about your future with that person. You don’t find the person significant enough to share your whole life with.
In love, you will often catch yourself daydreaming about your companion and what the future holds for you. You will make an effort by meeting the people that are valuable to your mate. You would want them to meet your friends and family. You would want them to be a part of every important moment in your life.
You would often imagine a life with them, going on vacations, raising a family, seeking comfort in them, etc. For a change, you will stop thinking just about yourself and would think about both of you. Your journey of ‘My life, my goal, my dreams, my family, etc.’ will turn into a journey of ‘Our life, our goals, our dreams, our family, etc.’
7. ETERNAL SATISFACTION
Satisfaction is the fulfillment of one’s wishes or needs and the pleasure derived from it. Throughout our lives, we seek to achieve satisfaction. In lust, you would get this pleasure after your needs are satisfied. The only satisfaction that you seek is biological in nature. It is short-lived.
However, in love, you get this eternal satisfaction as if your dream of having a perfect companion is fulfilled. You find satisfaction in your mate’s happiness, love, and actions. You are willing to sacrifice a few things for them. Your comrade becomes your priority. You are willing to try new things for them. To spend more and more time with them you are willing to do spontaneous things.
Willing to do whatever makes them forever smiling. You know they are not absolutely perfect, but you are certain that they are perfect enough for you. This understanding is enough for you to wish to spend your whole life with the person who you have fallen in love with.
If you feel strongly for a person, but at the same time you think it is just lust then there is nothing to be scared off. Scientists say that there are stages of love and lust is one of them. Your lust can develop into love if you are willing enough to know a person and lowering your guards. You can experience lust at first sight but with time and patience, you can blossom it into love. You can keep these points in mind if you want to know if it is just lust or love.