What Is The Difference Between Lust And Love? Lust Vs. Love

By Jessica Anderson

Updated November 20, 2019

Reviewer Aaron Dutil

There is a well-known four-letter "L" word that defines many romantic relationships. However, there's another four-letter "L" word that sneaks into our relationships fairly often as well. Love and lust are similar yet very different types of attraction. Figuring out whether your romantic feelings come from lust or love can be challenging, but with a deeper understanding of each of these words, you will be able to spot the difference.

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Lust is looking at a person and feeling both a strong sexual attraction and a pull toward imaginative details that the relationship could one day possess. Love is a feeling of commitment and adoration for a person that you've put effort into and began to build a life with. It is a feeling backed by action and a desire to grow with and do your best for the person you're with.

Look into your relationship and try to see where your emotional connection is stemming from. If your feelings are about sexual attraction or future ideals, you're likely falling into lust. If your feelings are built on a solid relationship that you've put work into, you're likely falling in love. If you're not quite sure, read on to learn more distinctions between the two terms. With the right information, you'll find the answer you are looking for.

Lust tends to get a bad reputation, but it is extremely common. Everyone feels a sense of lust from time to time throughout their life, so do not worry if your relationship has its signs. It is an intense desire to be intimate with another person. In fact, some research has revealed that lusting after someone is similar to having an addiction to a drug. When you are lusting after someone, you are more focused on sexual aspects than you are on building a relationship. You may not be fully aware of this focus, so it's important to look into the details of the relationship. Here are some of the possible characteristics of lust:

  1. You Only Think About Sexual Desires

If you're in a relationship with someone and the only thing you think about is sex, there is a good chance the connection will carry a focus on sexual relations. When lust is surpassed, other relationship goals begin. Without these additional goals, relationships usually do not contain love.

  1. Unhealthy Behaviors Are Common In Your Relationship

If you are in love with someone, you will likely do your best to be upfront and honest about everything to impress the person that you love and to show them who you really are. If you are only lusting after someone, your focus will be more self-centered and may even have a focus on sexual intimacy instead of relationship building. With unhealthy goals come unhealthy behaviors. Lying, pretending to be someone your not, and exaggerating the truth are acts that may come up quickly in a lust-filled relationship.

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  1. You Don't Want To Build A Connection

When you're lusting after someone, you'll have little to no desire to speak with them about anything beyond shallow topics. You'll subconsciously do whatever it takes to avoid building a connection with that person. You may even know deep down that you do not want to build a connection with them. If the interaction ends on shallow topics or even ends in the bedroom, you are likely not in love.

What Makes Love?

For your feelings to be considered love, there are some characteristics that need to show through. Here are a few that you should recognize in your relationship:

  1. Undeniable Attraction Towards The Other Person

There is a noticeable difference between love and sexual attraction, but it isn't necessarily a physical attraction. This is talking about your attraction to the little things that your partner does. For example, maybe you fall in love every time your significant other laughs or smiles.

  1. You're Willing To Give More Than Take

When you love someone, you want to give them the world. You want to help them reach their goals. When you love someone, you want to see them happy before yourself. Lust relationships will cause you to have more of a self-focus instead.

  1. You Develop A Deep Connection

Lust relationships rarely go beneath surface level. This is because one or both parties are unable or unwilling to share things about themselves that will lead to meaningful and long-lasting connections. When you are in a relationship with someone else that involves love, you will have no problem speaking in-depth about yourself and trying to connect with the other person on a deeper level. There is a desire to share personal details when you are in love. You understand that even if it feels intimidating, it adds meaning to your relationship.

Confused About The Difference Between Lust And Love?
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  1. There Is A Clear Lack of Judgment Towards Your Partner

When you are in love, your relationship becomes more about understanding than judgment. Although there are healthy limits as to what your significant other can do before you have to pass judgment, you always try your best to see into the heart of the person that you are with. You work to recognize the good qualities in them rather than focusing on the less favorable qualities that they may have.

  1. You're Always Willing To Support Your Significant Other

Your willingness to support your partner through thick and thin is a big indicator of love. For example, imagine that you have been seeing someone for a while, and they have an opportunity to take a job in another state. If you love them, you will be supportive of their opportunity, and you will make the relationship work no matter what. In a lust relationship, the long-distance would likely not feel worth the effort to you.

Tools That Can Help You Find The Difference In Your Relationship

One of the best things to do when you're unsure if a relationship's intentions are to talk to your close friends and family. They know you best, and they will be able to tell you if they see you pursuing this person long term. If you're wanting to keep the process private, make a list. Write down everything you like about the person you are attracted to. Do the qualities align more with the lust or love categories listed above?

You may even want to ask your significant other some questions about how they feel. It can often be hard to read our own emotions if they are complicated, so ask your partner deep questions and see how they react. Ask them where they see the relationship going. If they have loving answers that you agree with, you can believe your relationship is filled with love. If not, it may be lust.

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The Benefits Of Counseling For Relationship Help

Your romantic relationships are a huge part of your life. They affect you in many ways, including your mental health. If you're struggling with the intentions of a relationship, consider talking with a therapist. They are trained and able to help you fully understand how you're feeling. They bring up the hard topics, and they give you an honest view of your own life in the areas that may be hard to see yourself.

If you believe a counselor would be beneficial, consider BetterHelp. BetterHelp is available from the comfort and privacy of your own home. The organization makes it easy to fit counseling into your already busy schedule. See reviews of BetterHelp counselors below, from people experiencing different relationship issues.

BetterHelp Counselor Reviews

"Mark has been extremely attentive to everything that I disclose. He's not only provided me support but insight and encouragement to let me know I'm on a good path to self-improvement and discovery. Furthermore, Mark has provided me valuable insight on my romantic relationship, specifically with learning more about the relationship dynamics and how to build a stronger, healthier relationship."

"Stephanie is a gem! She's very thoughtful, thorough, honest, insightful, but, most of all, helpful. This is coming from a person that never wanted to do counseling and just "knew" I didn't need it. She's been key in helping my wife and I find our better place. She made us grow as a couple and individually. Thanks, Steph!"

Moving Forward

Figuring out if you're falling into lust or love can be a challenge. With the information above, it should be a much simpler process. Remember to reach out for help if you need it, from family and friends, or from a professional. You deserve the best in your love life, and differentiating lust and love will get you there.


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