I am guilty of confusing lust for love. Maybe I’m just picky, but finding someone I’m truly excited about is hard. So, when I do happen to meet a guy who I like, I tend to latch onto those feelings and go all in. In my mind, I even start to piece together the type of future the two of us will share. Until, of course, I realize one month later, that while the sex was hot and something I’d definitely love to keep for a while longer, the guy wasn't exactly boyfriend material.
Merriam-Webster defines lust as being “a strong feeling of sexual desire.” Meanwhile, love is defined as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person,” which, as they add, may include “attraction that includes sexual desire.” While the elements of attraction and sexual desire are both present in both love and lust, love goes steps beyond that.
It’s easy to get to get caught up in feelings of lust. I mean, how can you not? As someone who doesn’t experience it very often, I love the feeling of being sexually drawn to someone. That kind of attraction is the stuff romance novels are made of. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment.
So, why do we confuse lust for love? Rhonda Milrad, MSW, Advisor and Founder of Relationup, an app created to bring you on-demand relationship advice from experts, tells Bustle, “Because the newness and excitement of lust causes endorphins to be released from our brain—dopamine and oxytocin—that feel good to us, we pair this great feeling with love.”
As Angela Andikyan, M.A., another Relationup Advisor says, "The sexual attraction and energy may be so intense that the romance may feel like love. However, the distinction is that love has a deeper connection and commitment. There cannot be love without an emotional relationship."
According to Milrad and Andikyan, here are six times you might mistake lust for love.
1. When You Mistake Signs Of First Attraction And Excitement As Something More Than What It Is
When you start dating someone new, you’re going to be excited to see them more often. You’re going to be overly eager to get their texts or calls. You’re also going to have a tendency to not stop thinking about them. While these feelings are great, and you should definitely feel excited about someone you’re starting to date, don’t confuse these for signs of love. “Understand that the newness will wear off and the ‘high intensity’ feelings will diminish,” Milrad says.
2. When You Have Great Sex With Someone
In a good relationship, sex should be the dessert, not the entrée. Sure, sex is exciting and gives you a sugar rush, but it won’t fill you up. Not in the same way love will. It should be an added benefit to an already established bond full of trust, affection, and connectedness with another person.
3. When You Feel Needy
"When someone has a romantic infatuation with their partner, it can lead to dependency or 'neediness,'" Andikyan says. "Then they may mistake lust for love."
4. When You Experience The Emotional Elements Of A Relationship
According to Andikyan, when you experience the emotional elements of an intimate relationship such as bliss, drama, and chaos, you may mistake that for being "in love" even when there isn't an established intimate relationship there.
5. When You Look Like A Couple And Act Like A Couple
In reality, however, you may not even truly know the person. "When people mistake lust for love, the couple may be lovers which may feel like they are in love, but they aren’t friends and don’t share quality time together," Andikyan says.
6. When You Find Yourself Extremely Physically Attracted To Someone
You should date someone that you’re extremely physically attracted to. That’s what dating is all about. However, that’s all surface-level stuff. Or as Milrad says, just a “phase in the process of falling in love.”
“A lot of great relationships start with an intense and passionate beginning. I think the problem occurs when someone wants to experience the lust feeling throughout the life of the relationship,” Milrad says. “However, if someone has the maturity to enjoy the deeper connection that can be developed as the energy and intensity diminishes, the person may just find themselves in a satisfying, intimate relationship.”
So What Should You Do You Do If You're In Lust?
So, maybe lust isn’t love. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction to getting there. If you do find yourself falling “in lust” quickly, Milrad suggests to take a step back.
“Don’t make any big life decisions based on lust. Don’t move in too fast, marry too fast, change your life because you met the ‘perfect person’ whom you’re crazy about,” Milrad says. “Let time pass to see what happens in the relationship once the ‘pink cloud’ disappears.”
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