25 July 2012
Love v lust – what’s the difference?
by Fran Creffield
Heart pumping, cheeks flushed, pupils dilated and knees shaking – if this is how your date makes you feel it would be easy to think you are falling in love, or is it lust?
Can one exist without the other? The reality is that in happy, committed intimate relationships there is a healthy dose of both. During the dating process it can be very confusing telling the difference between them as you meet and connect with different people. Here we look at some of the differences.
Everyone is on the lookout for that spark of connection, or recognition, when they go on a date – the physical signs that this person is a match for you which can often over-ride what your head tells you. Someone can seem like a great match online but if, when you meet them in person, there is no spark most people won’t pursue the relationship. Likewise, you may take a chance on someone who doesn’t seem very promising according to their profile and compatibility status, but when you meet there is such a strong physical attraction a relationship develops despite the differences between you.
Much of what we feel when we connect with someone at this level is physical – an increase in heart rate, shallow breathing, sweaty palms and shaking knees etc. Inside the brain is being flooded with chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins which have the same effect on our brain chemistry as powerful drugs like cocaine.
It would be easy to think that such a strong reaction to someone’s presence meant you were falling in love – being with them will certainly make you feel good – but these are also the signs of lust which we all experience from time to time.
Lust plays a very important role in developing lasting, intimate relationships. It is a natural part of our make up which is there to ensure the continuation of the human species. It is the presence of lust that makes us want to have sex with someone and only becomes a problem if it is all you feel towards someone rather than part of a loving relationship. Here are five signs that it is lust that you are feeling rather than love:
1. Lust can happen very quickly and is mainly due to physical attraction and idealisation – you don’t even need to know someone’s name to lust after them. You are responding to chemicals like pheromones and these can make even someone plain seem incredibly alluring.
2. Lust makes you want to have sex with someone – it is nature’s way of ensuring the continuation of the species. The compulsion to have sex can seem very strong and can outweigh your normal, rational responses.
3. Lust is not about wanting to know someone or develop a deep connection with them (although this can happen) – getting to know them is just a necessary means to an end, you go through the motions because you want to have sex with them.
4. Lust will make you want to keep the person to yourself – or you may even feel ashamed of your relationship with them and keep it secret from your family and friends.
5. Lust may move from person to person very quickly and is triggered by what an individual finds erotic or sexually attractive rather than individual people.
Love is what most people are looking for but without lust it will lack the passion necessary for a date to appear to be to be anything more than a new acquaintance. Lust is what makes people lovers rather than friends and is the necessary fuel to drive the relationship forward. Love is the cement that will bind them together and ensure that their feelings for each other don’t burn brightly and then fade away. Here are 5 signs that it is love you are beginning to feel:
1. Love makes you want to get to really know someone, deeply and intimately, and for them to know you. This takes time but as you want to spend as much time as possible with them that isn’t usually a problem.
2. Love makes you want to have conversations – to share ideas, stories of the past and visions for the future. You communicate on a deep level but can also laugh together – you feel connected.
3. Love makes you want to bring this person into the centre of your life and introduce them to your friends and family.
4. Love is usually confined to a specific individual and can exist even if the person never loves you back.
5. Love makes you feel expansive – as though you want to be a better person and are capable of more than your were on your own.
Both love and lust are powerful, and both are necessary, but it is important that you know the difference so you don’t get swept along on the wings of lust when it is love that you are seeking.