Feelings are confusing, especially when it comes to dating. Is this person my soulmate, or are they a one-night stand? It's really hard to tell, and usually, it just depends on whether they text me again or ghost me after we hang out. Does this whole attraction vs. real feelings thing confuse you, too? Seriously, is it love or lust that's driving my relationship?
It's easy to get the two things confused. Do I love that tattooed musician who refuses to have a real conversation with me and cancels plans all the time, or am I just lusting after him? Yeah, that's probably lust talking. But that guy who was emotionally there for me when I was having health problems? Who stood by my side when I was less than fun to be around? That was a whole lot of love, I think.
So here's how to tell the difference between lust and love, as indicated by some things that are only true for those pesky, confusing, hot, and steamy lustful relationships. Because oh, man, I've had plenty of those.
1. Lustful Relationships Happen Quickly
Have you ever fallen in lust with someone? That sh*t is quick. If you meet someone and immediately can't keep your hands off one another and jump into a relationship without knowing real details about your partner's life, most likely, all you're running on is attraction.
On the other hand, love tends to grow more gradually. Dating and Relationship Coach Monica Parikh, of the School of Love NYC told Elite Daily, "Love understands that true intimacy is developed over a long time and through many seasons of life." Lust, however, can be at first sight... or after a few too many tequila shots.
2. Lustful Relationships Are Controlling
When you're in a loving, healthy relationship, you feel stable and secure. You know your partner will be there for you, and you can depend on them. Lust, however, is less dependable. In fact, it can be manipulative. "Infatuation seeks to control. Love is when you cede control," Parikh explained. “Love understands that we are all autonomous beings seeking our individual fulfillment, which may not perfectly align to your vision.” That means love allows you to be your true self without feeling the need to change who your partner is due to something like fear.
3. Lustful Relationships Are Broken Apart By Conflict
When you fight with someone you love, it can actually make your relationship stronger. But if you fight with someone you're merely attracted to, they're likely to just throw the relationship out the window.
"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 explains.
This makes total sense. If you only want to have sex with someone, you'd probably want to have sex with someone who requires the least amount of effort. Lame. Love, however, is worth fighting for.
4. Lustful Relationships Are Founded On Sexual Chemistry
When you're in lust, all you want to do is bone all the time. But love? Surprisingly, not so much! That's because you're actually focused on getting to know someone below the surface, and believe it or not, your body chemistry actually changes. Alyssa Bunn, professional matchmaker at Tawkify and creator of Love + Co, told Elite Daily, "When a man starts to fall in love, his testosterone levels drop. They may feel fatigued, moody, and you may witness a reduced sex drive, weight gain, or muscle loss."
So if you're wondering if you're in a loving or lustful relationship right now, look for some of these signs. If you find yourself moving quickly or if you and your partner are easily upset by conflict, your relationship might be running at surface level. But if you truly know one another on an emotionally intimate and vulnerable level, then congratulations, you are in love. And that's something worth holding on to.
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