Are you in love or are you in lust?
It’s not easy to differentiate between the two, particularly early on when you can’t quite summarize your feelings. You know that you like the person, but are you building real love?
Or is it all an illusion?
Are you merely falling in lust with this person?
We all want to find that crazy connection. That feeling we can share with someone that makes us feel like we’re in some epic love story. We don’t want to settle. We want it all. We want the soul mate. In our generation, this is becoming increasingly important. We no longer want to find someone and just make it work, but we want to find that perfect piece. And we’re willing to go to some pretty great lengths to find it. Our happiness and living our dream lives in our dream relationships is not something we’re willing to take lightly, or sacrifice because it’s not realistic. This is obviously a really good thing, but it does have its downsides. One of those downsides is our ambitious and proactive intentions lead us down some dead ends at times. Sometimes we fall in lust with people, and we place too much importance on being “wowed” from that first date, that we forget some important things along the way about building strong relationships that will last.
So what does it mean to fall “in lust” with someone?
According to Psychology Today, “Lust is an altered state of consciousness programmed by the primal urge to procreate”. “When the human brain is in this altered state of consciousness, it’s the same part of the brain that lights up when a cocaine addict gets a fix of cocaine.” So now you see why they call it ‘The Honeymoon Drug’? This is because in the early stages of a relationship (IE. before we truly know who the person is) our feelings can sometimes be closely associated with lust. We feel the person can do no wrong, and they’re the greatest person on the planet. We’re swept up in the early high of the relationship. We fall “in lust” with this person, which means we fall for the idea of them, more than who they are as a person, or what we share together. But if we don’t share other parts to the relationship — intellectual stimulation, shared activities, goals, visions, priorities, lifestyles…then the relationship crumbles quickly after that fun and exciting early period finishes.
Now sometimes this early high can be an infatuation. Your mind can play tricks on you and convince you of things that really aren’t a complete reality. These tricks might be things like being in awe of how physically attractive they are, how successful they are, or how the idea of them is greater and more compatible than the two of you actually are. This infatuation is often centered around a sexual attraction as well. Your mind fixates on their physical bodies and it becomes your addiction, or your drug (hence why the same part of the brain lights up with feelings of lust, as a cocaine addict craving cocaine). This is the same reason why people stay, or get caught up in relationships because the sex is so good. Their sex hormones trick them into thinking that they have strong emotional feelings for this person, when the feelings come from a purely physical level. This infatuation or lust can also result in some pretty self-destructive behaviour, or toxic relationships because we live in a delusional world and stay in something that is potentially hazardous to our emotional well being, even physical well-being. When we’re in lust with someone, we’re almost attached to something that isn’t right for us. It’s a sort of reliance and destructive attachment to someone, or something that isn’t sustainable. There are certain attributes about them that become bolded and take precedence over everything else. You could say we become blinded to the red flags, or the warning signs that going down this road with this person is going to end badly, or just that it’s inevitably going to end. This stems from an idealized projection of this person, most often from a physical attraction. You could say this person is your lover, but not your friend. Which is why this relationship is doomed because once the lustful feelings fade, you’re not going to have a partnership or friendship with this person that will help you to make it through. You will both jump ship because there will be nothing left to hang your hat on. You are en route for a rude awakening.
So how do you differentiate between the two?
You can probably take a guess pretty quickly. That girl you’re sleeping with who works at your gym, the one who you keep having sex with after hours in her office, is probably centered on lust and some heavy-duty physical attraction. While that girl right under your nose, the one who you share the same weird and quirky interests with and is always the first one you want to tell when you get good news, is probably built on a strong friendship that could potentially turn into more.
Sometimes lust can turn into love. In fact, those are probably best-case scenarios because you got to experience those early butterflies and intense feelings of attraction, which over time graduated to become deep feelings of respect, trust, and admiration. You got the lover and the friend all wrapped up in one, which is obviously the dream.
But still, how do you distinguish between the feelings that seem to have so many crossovers?
Do you have the ability to converse with this person for hours on end and lose track of time?
Do you actually care for their emotional well-being and are willing to do anything to make them happy?
Do you want stop hanging out as soon as you are finished having sex?
Can you be completely silent and comfortable with this person, but still know exactly what they’re thinking and feeling?
Do you have a deep respect for this person, their mind, opinion, and how they choose to live their life?
Do you want to share your future plans and bring them into your intimate world and show them what you love and are interested in?
Do you care about this part of their world as well?
All of these are important questions to consider if you’re trying to access your feelings for the person that you are seeing. While lust is fun, makes you feel alive, and leads to great sex in the short term, it doesn’t have the deep roots that can make your relationship last long-term. In fact, you’re just going to hurt yourself in the process.
Attraction is a key ingredient in relationships, but it’s obviously not what you want to fixate on, as doing that, can quickly veer you off the path. You want to find your best friend and someone who you can call your partner, because at the end of the day, that’s all you’re going to have — someone to eat with and have sex with.
You fall in lust with someone, you’re going to constantly chase that initial high that will never be as good the second time, but you fall in love with someone, you will find a high that gets better over time and is more satisfying than the high you can get from any drug.