The average person falls in love four times in their lifetime. Love is the subject of poetry, movies, novels, and music year after year.
But it’s not just the feeling of love that is prevalent in our day-to-day lives. On average, men think about sex 19 times a day and women think about it 10 times a day.
But the distinction between lust vs love isn’t as black and white as you might think. The feelings often overlap and juggling the two can pose a challenge.
This guide will help you to understand the difference between love and lust and how to balance the two feelings.
The Difference Between Love and Lust
Both love and lust are powerful feelings that most people will feel many times throughout their lives. But it is sometimes difficult to understand what’s the difference between love and lust.
Love and lust can manifest in similar ways in the body. Both love and lust have the following physical symptoms in common:
- Elevated heart rate
- Intrusive thoughts
Additionally, love and lust are not always experienced separately. Though low libido might remove lust from a relationship, many people experience lust even after they have fallen in love.
With some basic information distinguishing love and lust, you can begin to understand how to balance the love vs lust divide.
Most people would say that they are familiar with how love feels. They might recall thinking about someone the moment they first wake up in the morning or feeling giddy at the mere thought of your partner.
Romantic love is a complex feeling. When in love, a person feels connected to someone on an emotional level. Though you may have a physical connection with someone that you love, the connection extends beyond looks and physicality.
When an individual is falling in love, the brain releases oxytocin and vasopressin, which are bonding hormones. These same hormones are released during breastfeeding to bond the mother and their baby.
The release of these hormones leads to feeling emotionally attached to someone. In love, one does not simply want to be physically close to someone but also desires emotional closeness with that person.
Though love is a complex and multi-faceted feeling, lust on the other hand can be explained as simply sexual attraction. Lust is an intense physical attraction to someone. In lust, you seek instant pleasure from your partner, and fostering an emotional connection is not a priority.
Physiologically, lust comes from the biological desire to reproduce. Lust results when the hypothalamus prompts the reproductive system to release testosterone and estrogen. Testosterone is a key element of sexual desire in both men and women.
Love is sometimes considered the beginning stage of love, but lust does not always develop into love. If a relationship remains primarily physical, even over a long period of time, it likely has not evolved into a loving relationship.
Sometimes there are mental and emotional barriers that prevent lust from further developing into love, such as past trauma.
How to Identify Lust vs Love
There is some overlap between love and lust. For example, you can have feelings of lust and a sexual connection with someone you romantically love. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between love and lust.
It can be challenging to determine what someone else is feeling without honest and open communication, but there are some signs to look out for that suggest whether your partner is interested in a relationship with you or simply lusting.
If you aren’t sure whether it’s love or lust that you’re feeling, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you to decide.
What Do You Like Most About the Person?
You will likely admire the physical features of someone that you love. But if your answer to this question is a list of physical qualities, like their body, their eyes, their hair, it is most likely lust that you are feeling.
When you are feeling love, the qualities that you like most about them are below the surface. You will answer this question by thinking about their qualities such as kindness, drive, sense of humor, or intelligence.
What Do You Do When You’re Spending Time Together?
A tell-tale sign of lust is if you spend all of your time with someone in bed. If you spend time outside of the bed eagerly anticipating the next time you will be alone with your partner, you are likely feeling lust.
With real love, you will spend time getting to know someone, talking, sharing experiences, laughing, and finding things in common. Though you may also very much enjoy alone time with a partner you love, you simply enjoy their company regardless of the activity.
How Involved in Their Life Are You?
When you love someone, you will likely want to spend time with other important people in life like friends and family. You will also want to share important milestones with them like birthdays and other celebrations.
On the other hand, lust alone will mean that your involvement in your partner’s life is more limited. If one is not interested in getting to know the people that their partner cares about or even showing up for them when they need a shoulder to cry on, the intense feelings are probably not any deeper than a physical attraction.
Balancing Love vs Lust
Balancing love and lust can be delicate and challenging. It is natural to have feelings of lust even as you are falling in love with someone.
And a healthy sex life is an important part of a healthy relationship for many people. Tapping into feelings of lust can be important in keeping the relationship intimate. Mismatched libidos and breakdowns in communication in your sex life can challenge your relationship.
In a successful long-term relationship, you will want to balance both love and lust. Love will result in a lasting connection with someone, but lust is a necessary element in your sex life.
Oftentimes, barriers prevent you from bringing down emotional walls that allow you to fall in love and develop a deeper emotional bond with someone.
Couples therapy can be one way to tackle any barriers that might be getting in the way of a relationship’s success.
Get Support From a Sex Therapist Today
Understanding lust vs love isn’t always black and white. Sometimes feelings of lust are stronger than others. And sometimes lust is missing from an otherwise healthy and happy relationship.
Whether you’re struggling to identify whether it’s love or lust or you’re trying to rekindle the flame, there is help available. A relationship expert can help you find satisfaction in your relationship.
Schedule a consultation with a sex therapist today to find intimacy and clarity in your relationship.