Am I in Lust or Am I in Love?
So… you see a girl (or boy… if you’re a girl) walking across from where you are. They glance over your direction, only to see he’s staring right at you with a stunned look! You quickly pretend that you are looking at something else! You start to sweat a little… you try to play it cool, but on the inside your guts do a triple somersault, with a half twist and a few pirouette’s for good measure. Then as she/he wanders into the distance giggling with their friends, you’re left sitting there, with a billion thoughts and feelings pulsing through you, most of which are confusing, and you have no idea what to do… you know you like her/him… but is it more than that? So you’re left with the one question: do any of these signs mean I want a relationship with him or her? Sorry to say it, but not necessarily.
One of my past relationships if we can even call it that, wasn’t love at all. Of course, at the time I was convinced it was love, as we all tend to think in similar situations, but in reality it was nothing but lust tangled up with infatuation, and because of it I was the most unstable, crazy, jealous, human being I’ve ever been. Looking back now, I blush at who I was, and that I was capable of such insanity because of a man.
With those days officially in my past and locked there safely, I can NOW see more clearly than ever what I was experiencing. I was not in love with a guy whom we’ll call “D,” but in lust. A good single’s counselor will point out that more real love is that which has affection and caring for the other person going beyond the physical. The caring is for the well-being of the other, regardless of whether it includes you or not. It may include a desire to nurture or protect. Satisfaction may be by simply being in the presence of the other.
A loving relationship is one where there is respect, kindness and a feeling of togetherness that allows each of you to express yourselves and be yourselves; love is not restrictive or smothering. Initial attraction stirs up neurotransmitters and hormones that create the excitement of infatuation and a strong desire to be close with the person. These chemicals and our emotional and psychological makeup can cause us to obfuscate reality and idealize the object of our attraction. Time spent in fantasy fuels our craving to be with him or her. This is normal when it doesn’t take over our lives. Two individuals will transform their lust into love when they get to see the whole individual (their strengths and weaknesses) and get past the “fantasy level”.
Obsession, addictive love, or lust- infatuation can knock you off your feet in much the same way as falling in love. However, feelings are often distorted by lack of perception, illogical thoughts and a focus on yourself rather than the feelings of the person who is the object of your affection. With an unhealthy infatuation comes an immaturity of expression and attachment that reveals issues going on in your life rather than a display of healthy love. At this juncture, our brain chemicals as well as our attachment style and psychological issues can lead us to become co-dependently attached through a romance or love addiction that feels like love, but is more driven by our need for the chemical rush to avoid feelings of abandonment, depression and low self-esteem.
Excitement and desire may be heightened by intrigue or our partner’s unpredictability or unavailability. We may remain attached and even crave our partner, but our discomfort or unhappiness grows. Instead of focusing on that, our hunger to be with him or her, takes center stage, despite the fact that disturbing facts or character traits arise that are hard to ignore. We may feel controlled or neglected, unsafe or disrespected, or discover that our partner is unreliable, or lies, manipulates, rages, has secrets, or has a major problem, such as drug addiction or serious legal or financial troubles. Nonetheless, we stay and don’t heed our better judgment to leave. Increasingly, we hide our worries and doubts and rely on sex, romance, and fantasy to sustain the relationship. Out of sympathy, we might even be drawn to help and “rescue” our partner or try to change him or her back into the ideal we “fell” for. These are signs of addiction.
A loving relationship can change your life by helping you develop as an individual within its positive embrace. Infatuation can also change your life, often bringing up unresolved issues from the past and leaving you grappling to get a firm foothold on whom you are and where you are going. But how do we know we’re not in Lust BUT In Love, here are 4 signs to know you’re in Love and not in Lust:
- They gaze into your eyes: According to new research from the University of Chicago, eye movement may reveal whether a person is feeling romantic love or sexual desire. In the study, participants were asked to concentrate on a stranger’s face to test visual patterns and analyze the difference between love and lust. Interestingly, researchers found that viewers who saw the person as a potential romantic partner fixated more on the face, whereas those who were feeling lust focused more on the body. This was true for both males and females. So if he’s looking directly into your eyes, you can keep fantasizing about your wedding and future kids’ names. But if he’s looking everywhere else, you’re better off than sorry.
- They show affection—that isn’t sex related.
If the person you’re seeing touches you often without initiating sex, it’s very likely he or she is smitten. When you’re truly in love with someone, having sex isn’t the only way to maintain closeness. You share a connection that goes beyond lust and can experience emotional intimacy by holding hands or cuddling. Loving touch respects boundaries and creates a level of comfort and pleasure for both parties. Another sign of affection is when you and your partner are having an important conversation, you’d rather take your time with it than get it over with. When you connect with someone on an emotional level, you draw comfort from silence. You aren’t bothered by lying on your sides and gazing into each other’s eyes till 4 in the morning (oh, trust me, it’s quite the novelty at the outset of love). But the fact that silences are awkward, and your communication is based solely on sex and which bit you enjoyed most should be a neon sign screaming it’s pure lust.
- You Accept Their Flaws
If you’re in lust, you might be in denial of your partner’s flaws because you want to retain your fantasy of the relationship. When you’re in love, on the other hand, you understand every aspect of your partner, and even if some of their traits are less than idea, you find them to be worth it. When we’re in lust, we often gloss over irritants because our brains are flooded with dopamine and adrenaline. This passionate love/lust inevitably fades as we get to know our partner (for better or worse).
- He/She talks about the future, and you’re in it.
Does your partner make plans for next month or next year that include you? If you notice that “we” is starting to replace “I,” that’s a strong indicator that him or her plan on sticking around. Partners who are committed to one another are comfortable talking and fantasizing about the future—next weekend, holiday season, or year, says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., relationship expert. It doesn’t guarantee a future to imagine what life could be like together five or ten years from now, but the absence of any such hopeful plans is not a good sign. If you speak of how good it is, how much you want each other, or what you want out of your next ‘date’, BUT one thing you haven’t imagined doing is spending a lifetime with them; then you’re in lust and not in love. If the thought of marriage, children, join accounts, shared sleepless nights changing diapers, vacations taken together amongst several others of a similar nature come to your mind over time when you think of them, then you can be assured that this is perhaps more than just pure lust. But if the future never comes into it, ever, then the nature of your relationship need not be spelt out for you.
As Ann Landers puts it:
“Love is friendship that has caught on fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”
It can sometimes be hard to tell in the beginning stages of a relationship whether you’re headed for a long-term commitment or a one-night stand. The difference between love and lust is the attitude of your heart. If you’re in love, the attitude of your heart is one of selflessness, with the other person as your focus, whereas if you are in lust the attitude of your heart will be one of selfishness, with yourself as the focus. True love is driven by a godly desire to provide for, nurture and care for the other person’s needs, whereas lust is driven by an ungodly desire to provide for, nurture and care for our own sinful passions. When you love someone you choose to stick with that person at the expense of all others, even when it’s hard and you don’t want to! When you lust after someone, you get angry and throw in the towel as soon as you don’t get what you want, or you manipulate them until they do what you want them to do.
So… if you find yourself wondering about whether or not you’re in love, ask yourself “what is my heart attitude towards this person? Is it one of selflessness or selfishness? Am I willing to put the hard yards in, even when I don’t really want to, or will I probably throw in the towel when things get tough? Do I want to invest into this person, or is it just about fulfilling my human desires?” The answer to these questions will be a sure indication of whether you are in love, or lust.