Understanding the difference between love and lust: Lust at first sight can happen but not love.
For years we have heard about love at first sight. We hear this so often that we hope it happens to us. We wish to experience that immediate attraction and hopefully lifelong commitment to our prince charming or princess.
Unfortunately, experiencing the feeling of love is a long-term process; thus, it cannot be felt immediately. However, lust at first sight is real. So, what is the difference between love and lust? According to the Huffington Post article "The Difference Between Love And Lust," Judith Orloff, M.D., explains the following differences:
Signs of lust:
- You're completely focused on a person's looks and body.
- You're interested in having sex, but not in having conversations.
- You'd rather keep the relationship on a fantasy level, and not discuss real feelings.
- You want to leave soon after sex, rather than cuddling or staying for breakfast the next morning.
- You are lovers, but not friends.
Signs of love:
- You want to spend quality time together other than sex.
- You get lost in conversations and forget about the hours passing.
- You want to honestly listen to each other's feelings, and make each other happy.
- He or she motivates you to be a better person.
- You want to get to meet his or her family and friends.
Although I included Dr. Orloff's list, I have a different opinion. I consider both of her lists inclusive of the experience of lust. My reaction to her list of lust is more reflective of sexual interest and activity, which eliminates the relational aspect. Her lust list is similar to the booty call at 3 a.m.
Emotions and attachment are included in lust. Of course one could do without said emotions as well. Lust is fueled by our neurochemicals, which physiologically puts us on a dopamine high where we crave, idealize and have obsessive thoughts about the other.
It's important to know that this is not your heart talking, it's your brain chemicals that have wired you to attract, mate and procreate. Despite the neurochemical flood, you're not using your brain nor your heart. You're high.
It is one of the best feelings in the world and I believe it has lead to many unwise marriages, divorces and affairs. We all want to chase what feels good and boy does this feel good!
If our chemicals are urging us to procreate we need to have a veil of fantasy; otherwise, we'd really notice how bad their feet stink, when they don't put their laundry in the basket, when they belch too often after dinner, how they only floss once per month, and how they're not that respectful when talking about their mother.
We instead focus on the fantasy that is and what our future with that person might be. If we noticed the daily bad traits of each of us right away, would we ever pair up? When we experience lust and recognize our altered mental state, we can place logic next to our thoughts of Mr./ Ms. Dreamy and allow time to guide us in the trueness of a real relationship.
Logical statements help us reduce impulsive decisions, to place some realism in our lustful fog, and remind us that everyone has faults; however, craving someone today and living with them day in and day out is a completely different ball game! So, enjoy the lust, recognize your high, and manage your fantasy.
When do you know it is real love? The main way love is revealed is through time. I recommend couples not marry until two years of courtship/dating, because two years is the time frame needed for your chemical high to subside.
After two years, love looks like this:
- You still feel sexual attraction to your partner.
- You have fully accepted who that person is without your ability to ever change them.
- You can tolerate their bad traits/habits, because they are just annoying and not unhealthy (eg., addicted, abusive, manipulative).
- You are interested in sharing your life with this person with a shared vision for your future.
- You can have and work through disagreements.
- You have discussed your views on religion, politics, children, and money and have come to an understanding and/or compromise.
- You enjoy sex with your partner.
- You want to empower them into their fullness.
- You feel respected and encouraged.
- You receive most of the attention, validation, sex and you find that communication is important in the long run.
- You feel comfortable in who you are.
Love is a feeling that occurs with time, is long lasting, accepting and respectful. Lust is a biochemical flood of wonderful feelings, attraction, desire and craving, which can be instantaneous. Thus, you can experience lust at first sight, and not love.