Lust Vs. Love: Understanding The Differences For A Fulfilling Relationship

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 24, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Love and lust are common emotions that you may encounter in a relationship. Experts reveal that you may experience these emotions in phases during the relationship time. Despite the similarities or occurrences of these emotions, they have unique and distinguishing features. If you're confused about whether you're in love or you have a lust for your partner, it might be best to understand the differences between these emotions.

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What is the definition of love?

Love refers to a particular emotional attachment you may have towards your partner or someone in your life. It's a powerful feeling that might make you feel completely bound to another individual you may dream of having with your life. Usually, the emotion of love comes after the initial infatuation with someone. 

When you love someone, it might build and gets stronger with time. It may last for a lifetime when you nurture and grow your bond with your partner.

Signs of love

While many individuals may confuse love with other emotions, there might be some signs that show love, which may include

  • Feeling a strong sense of emotional attraction
  • Making plans for your future with your partner
  • Being willing to sacrifice anything for your partner
  • Feeling safe with your partner
  • A willingness to take your relationship to the “next level”
  • A sense of commitment and loyalty toward your partner

What is the definition of lust?

Lust may refer to a common emotion that might be based on sexual satisfaction or attraction. When having lust, you might always feel sexually attracted to another person. Some experts may describe it as a primal and raw feeling that may come naturally. Some of the components of lust might be sexual arousal, attraction, and fulfillment. 

Lust could also result in a temporary sensation that appears overwhelming and intense at times, which might tempt you to act irrationally.

Signs of lust

It may be possible that when you are feeling lust for someone, it may take over your sexual desires and hormones. It's usually hard to notice the signs of lust as your emotions might have taken over you.

You might be lusting over someone if you

  • Feel sexually aroused
  • Feel attraction toward someone's body or physical appearance
  • Have a desire to act on sexual urges
  • Have frequent thoughts about having sex with this person
  • Feel tempted to act on your desires.
  • Have the urge to make physical contact with someone
  • Have fantasies based on sexual desires for this person
  • Involve or engage in any kind of sexual activities with this other person

Differences between love and lust

It may be ideal to understand the difference between love and lust, as they could significantly impact your personal life and relationships. While lust may provide temporary pleasure, true love offers a more profound sense of fulfillment and lifetime happiness.

Understanding the distinction between love and lust could help you make informed decisions about your relationships. In addition, the knowledge might ensure that you're seeking and experiencing genuine, healthy relationships.

Here are some of the features that may differentiate love and lust.


Feelings might be the main distinguishing features of love and lust. Love might involve an intense feeling of affection and care for another individual. The feeling becomes so intense that the individual experiencing the love might quickly form a secure emotional attachment with you. In contrast, lust might be raw desires and feelings of desiring sexual contact with each other. Both emotions could be based on sexual or physical attraction, but they are still quite different. Because after getting intimacy, the feeling could either turn into love or just lust.


Many believe love usually takes time to develop, but lust happens immediately. Love might require time and effort to connect deeply with someone, but lust may occur within a shorter period. It's why many people might confuse love and lust with each other.

The time you spend together

When having lust, you might spend more time enjoying your sexual life rather than concentrating on a deeply emotional conversation. In contrast, if you're in love or in the beginning stages of falling in love, you might try to become close with someone more by having insightful conversations and learning about their likes and dislikes. You may also find time to discuss your emotional commitment with them.

Future commitment

With the sexual desires that come with lust, you may lack the immediate desire to have any commitments. All you might want from the relationship is likely to have short-term sexual satisfaction and not build a future together. But if you are in love, you'll consider showing commitment physically and emotionally. During this time, you might continue learning about your partner and plan for the future.

Relationship dynamics 

There might be two different relationship dynamics between lust and love. Lust usually comes with an intense desire to have intercourse, while love involves a caring and safe relationship. How you interact with each other may differ when in love and lust. With a deep emotional connection, you may care more about the other person and their feelings. While with lust, you may only want to physically satisfy yourself and your partner.

Can you feel lust and love simultaneously?

With love and lust being two common emotions in a relationship, you may wonder if you could feel love and lust simultaneously. It could be possible to have both emotions simultaneously in your relationship, but they can often be confused with each other. However, it might be ideal to understand that love and lust are two different emotions, and one emotion could eventually take precedence over the other. But being able to differentiate between love and lust might help you determine whether you are in a healthy and meaningful relationship.  

What are the benefits of online therapy for relationships?

Online therapy might help you to understand the difference between love and lust. Not only could you speak with a trained professional who has experience in this field, but you could also get personalized advice tailored to your own needs. Furthermore, it could be beneficial to talk about your feelings in a safe environment without the fear of judgment. By using online therapy, you may also have a connection to support and guidance to help you understand love and lust at any.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo
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How effective is online therapy?

It may vary based on the individual, the type of therapy, and the therapeutic relationship between the client and therapist. However, most studies have shown that online therapy could be effective in understanding the meaning of love and lust. A study by Aaron Rochlen, Ph.D., showed that online therapy could provide similar results to traditional in-person therapy when it comes to an understanding of the different emotions involved in a relationship.


Understanding the difference between lust and love could be best for building healthy relationships and achieving emotional well-being. While lust seeks physical pleasure, love involves a deep emotional bond which could lead to long-lasting fulfillment. Online therapy could be an effective option for understanding the difference between the two emotions and learning how to navigate them in a relationship.
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