Who here isn't after love, honestly? It might not be everyone's be-all and end-all for a happy and healthy life, but there isn't a single person I have met that would turn away a fairy tale ending, if presented with the opportunity. That being said, do we actually know when love is a real, viable option? I hate to be the one to point it out, but a lot of times, we miss (or electively overlook) the red flags your partner is in lust, not love. Both emotions can be intense, all-consuming, and make you feel all warm in the place you thought was a deep, dark abyss (your heart, guys). But there are pretty big differences between the two.
Love, according to Psychology Today, is something we cannot necessarily command. On the other side, Seven Deadly Sins describes lust as "an inordinate craving for pleasures of the body." OK, but wait a second. If I'm in love with someone, wouldn't I... shouldn't I... be craving for them to pleasure my body and the pleasures of their body? Well, the difference is lust is typically only about more surface-level desires (like the physical), while love involves both the more primal desires, as well as a deeper care for and desire to connect with another person.
So what are the telltale signs that it isn't love? Here's how to spot that thing called lust.
1. They Went From Zero To 60 Super Fast
Maybe you've been at this whole dating thing for a while now, and you're sick of feeling alone. Someone's intense affection will likely make your heart explode with joy. Surely, if they're totally fawning over you, this must be the real deal, right? Not so fast. Like most good things, love takes time. "Love understands that true intimacy is developed over a long time and through many seasons of life," dating and relationship coach Monica Parikh, of the School of Love NYC, told Elite Daily.
2. You're Getting Sore... Like, Really Sore
We obviously want sexual intimacy when we're in love, but lustful partners will lead with sex constantly. (Like that guy on the dating app you gave your number to who keeps sending you dick pics. Dude...) Someone in love, though? Yeah, they probably won't have sex on their mind that much.
"When a man starts to fall in love, his testosterone levels drop," Alyssa Bunn, professional matchmaker at Tawkify and creator of Love + Co, told Elite Daily. "They may feel fatigued, moody, and you may witness a reduced sex drive, weight gain, or muscle loss." So if you find your person wanting to start (and end) every date in the bedroom, you probably want to rethink their commitment to your relationship.
3. They Never Text You Back
If someone is ghosting or breadcrumbing you, well, that's a whole other topic completely, but what if they always take way too much time to get back to you. You're not buying that "I'm busy" line every time, are you?
When people are in love, they want to connect to each other. That's not to say you have to, or should, be in communication 24/7, just that there is a certain level of attachment involved when it comes to love.
Helen E. Fisher at Rutgers University pointed to three primary emotional categories for mating: "lust, attraction, and attachment." According to her, on the lust side of the spectrum, sexual gratification is what a person seeks, while the attachment side (which is where love falls) is "characterized by the maintenance of close social contact in mammals, accompanied in humans by feelings of calm, comfort, and emotional union with a mate." So if this person isn't in sync with you enough to hit send, what they are feeling is probably not coming from the heart.
4. Mysterious Is Their Middle Name
"Infatuation is mired in surface-level attraction — looks, money, power. Love grows out of an appreciation of the other person's character," Parikh told Elite Daily. "Infatuation grows out of desire."
It's kind of easy to tell if someone only wants sex from you, but it might be more challenging to determine that they're after you for other shallow reasons that aren't linked to love. If the object of your affection doesn't take the time to get to know you, or doesn't share themselves with you, your connection may not be all that deep or lasting.
5. They Seek Control
"Infatuation seeks to control. Love is when you cede control," Parikh said. “Love understands that we are all autonomous beings seeking our individual fulfillment, which may not perfectly align to your vision.” A controlling partner does not have your best interests at heart, nor so they even care what those best interests may be. If it is love, your partner will want you for you.
6. Fighting Ends Without Resolution
Butting heads occasionally in a relationship likely means that you are growing and evolving as a unit. However, the alarms should actually go off when you never fight, because either one or both of you are not expressing yourselves, likely out of fear. The one caveat? You have to make up at the end.
"In infatuation, when one partner hurts the other, the trauma pulls apart the relationship. In love, each partner sees the trauma as the catalyst for deeper intimacy and understanding," Parikh explained. If your partner is constantly on your case, too cavalier to get involved in a healthy debate, or not interested in working with you to resolve a fight, they're probably not interested in anything past the bed post.
Lust might be what you're after, and there's nothing wrong with that. By no means am I knocking the one-night stand or FWB situation, because those can leave you feeling great. But if you start to fall for someone, make sure they're showing you that they want to move past the bedroom, too.
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