Here’s How To Tell The Difference Between Lust vs. Love


Knowing the difference between lust vs. love isn’t always easy. After all, in those first few exciting, passionate months of a new relationship, it can be difficult to differentiate the two. They both feel all-consuming and overwhelming. And, they both take up the majority of your waking thoughts once they set in. 

So, how do we tell the difference between love and lust, and what are some common signs to look out for? We’ve tackled all this, and more, below!

Lust vs. Love Definition: Defining the Two Concepts

Before jumping into the differences between lust vs. love, it’s important to cover what these two things are. From there, you’ll be in a better place to understand exactly what it is you’re feeling.

A quick definition of lust: Mirriam-Webster defines lust as “intense or unbridled sexual desire.” This can manifest in different ways, some of which might initially appear similar to love. The desire to constantly be around one another, for example, may look like love at first, but could be due to the fact you simply cannot stop undressing each other!

A quick definition of love: The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of love describes feelings of “deep affection or fondness for someone, typically arising from a recognition of attractive qualities, from natural affinity, or from sympathy.” This may well have elements of lust – sexual desire between two partners is generally considered a good sign – but it tends to run much deeper with feelings of love. 

5 Common Signs of Lust to Look Out For

Understanding the differences between lust vs. love can be tricky without knowing a few of the common signs. To help you out with this, we’ve put together five signs of lust to look out for!

1. Every thought you have about them is sexual

Look, it’s totally normal for people falling in love to think about jumping on their partner several times per minute. But, if you’re every thought regarding your love interest is related in some way to their body or physical intimacy, you may well be experiencing lust rather than love.

2. Your plans are sex-focussed

If you find that you and your partner tend to plan dates and hangouts that always take place within several paces of a bed, it’s possible that you’re more interested in one another’s bodies than each other’s personalities — a common sign of lust rather than love.

3. You don’t connect on a deeper level

Do you discuss hopes and dreams, talk about long-harbored ambitions, or share fears and regrets? Do you discuss philosophical conundrums and ponder life’s big questions together? Have you exchanged secrets nobody else knows in the world?

Or do all your conversations invariably circle back to the physical?

4. There’s no talk of the future

If your relationship is built solely on lust, it’s likely you won’t find yourselves talking about the future too often. This tends to be for the simple reason that you both know on some level that there isn’t likely to be one.

If the thought of making a home with them, building a life together, and growing old with one another doesn’t appeal to you in the slightest – but you still inexplicably crave them – you’re probably experiencing lust.

5. You act in your self-interest

Now, this isn’t an all-encompassing rule. People in love are perfectly capable of bouts of selfishness. However, when we’re in love, we consider our partner in our decisions. After all, we want them to be happy and we care about how they feel emotionally, as well as physically. If this is rarely the case, it might be lust rather than love that you’re feeling.

4 Signs You Might Be in Love

If you’re not experiencing any of the common signs of lust outlined above, then there’s a good chance you might in love. To help you figure this out, we’ve outlined four common signs of love below!

1. You adore them

Lust’s adoration tends to revolve entirely around the physical. But, when you fall in love with someone, you’ll likely be emotionally attracted to them and might find yourself watching everything they do with hearts in your eyes. The way they talk, the way they walk, the way they laugh, the way they sneeze – adorable.

2. You think about the future with them

Do you ever catch yourself looking at them and, without realizing it, slip into a daydream about where you might be together in twenty years? If so, it might just be love.

3. You talk about everything together

When we fall in love, it’s common to want to know all there is to know about our partner. This can lead to all manner of weird and wonderful conversations, on everything from your childhood to your most niche hobbies and interests.

4. You both put work in

Lust is passionate. An explosion. But, like an explosion, it can finish just as quickly as it started. A simple disagreement or argument may can create a toxic love-hate relationship or even be enough to finish things off completely. 

When it’s love, however, you and your partner will be equally determined to fix arguments before they grow too big and to find compromises you can both feel safe and happy with.

What’s the Difference Between Love and Lust?

Lust and love differences aren’t always that clear. Below, we’ve outlined some of the key differences when it comes to lust vs. love.

1. Lust is all about gratification, pleasure, and gleeful encounters. Love typically focuses on communication, cooperation, comfort, security, and trust.

2. Lust is very fun but brief while love is typically a slow burner.

3. Lust is usually all about immediate gratification. Love might be harder to come by, yet is more fulfilling on a deeper level. 

4. Being engulfed in lust tend to make us focus on ourselves while being in love usually means dedicating a lot of our time and energy to making our partner’s life as wonderful as possible.

Can Lust Become Love?

Yes! Many relationships that go on to be loving, trusting partnerships begin with a flurry of passion and lust. It’s totally natural. The torrent of hormones released when we like someone new can make us impulsive and excitable! 

However, in cases where lust becomes love, this flurry of initial passion tends to occur alongside all the coziness and “getting-to-know-you” chats.  

Can Love Become Lust?

It generally works the other way around. However, for couples who have been together a long time, there may come moments when the passion that once existed seems dimmed. In these circumstances, couples might choose to spice up the relationship somehow, often by trying new things in their sex life or through couples therapy. In this sense, love can regain that element of lust further down the line.

Is It Lust or Love? How to Tell Figure Out What You’re Feeling

Still not sure? Don’t fret – there’s an easy way to determine the age-old question of lust vs. love: Just stop having sex. This could be for a few days or a couple of weeks. Put a pause on the physical side of things and see if your passion for one another continues. 

Are you still interested in talking to them when sex is off the table? Do you still want to be around each other when you can do no more than hold hands? If yes, there’s love there. If you find you’re not that excited to hang out together when you have your clothes on, it may lust instead.

Both love and lust are valid emotions and sources of great pleasure. If you’re lucky, you might even experience both on your way toward taking your relationship to the next level!

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