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Lust vs Love: 21 Signs to Know Exactly What You Feel for Each Other

The whole lust vs love debate is as old as the hills. If you’re lusting, you’re not thinking about your heart, you’re thinking about your nether regions! 

lust vs love signs

Mistaking lust for love is not a new thing. The younger you are and the earlier you find yourself in a budding relationship, the more likely you are to confuse one for the other. But don’t worry, there’s no shame in it. With your hormones raging and your mind floating into a euphoric fantasy during the throes of romance, the line that divides the two gets pretty blurred… along with your sense of judgment. But, the whole lust vs love thing can still be confusing as you get older too.

The feelings of just-met-someone can be so intense that you don’t know what to think or feel. You just know that you’re on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and you don’t want to stop.

But, as things calm down, it’s normal to still feel like you want to rip their clothes off at every opportunity, or at least occasionally. Does that mean it’s still lust, or has love entered the building?

The truth is that love and lust are very different but lust will usually always be around to some degree. Whereas love takes a little time to make an appearance.

[Read: What is lust? The typical signs and the best ways to turn it into love quickly]

Lust vs love

The lust vs love dynamic can be likened to making a bonfire. Think of lust as the kindling that starts the fire. Kindling burns easily and flares up when ignited, but it burns fast and dies easily, just like a relationship built on lust.

Love, on the other hand, can be thought of as the larger pieces of wood; they burn longer and steadier. You could try to light it without kindling, but it will take a long time before it starts to burn. Therefore, you need the proverbial kindling to start a steady fire. Do you understand where we’re going with this?

Before we get lost in the analogy, lust is the spark that could either fizzle out, or burn into love.

Lust on its own is quick and temporary, while love comes slowly, but is more permanent and steady. When love arrives, however, lust will still be around in lower amounts, because of the sexual attraction between you.

Basically, lust is about your genitals, love is about your heart. You can’t get a simpler explanation than that! [Read: 14 steamy signs of sexual tension to recognize lust when you see it]

It’s normal to lust first before falling in love

Contrary to what most of us believe, we don’t really fall in love at first sight. Almost always, it’s lust at first sight.

The intense attraction that you feel for someone when you first lock eyes with each other, those butterflies in your stomach, that skip in your heart, and the mad sexual attraction you feel, in all probability, is lust and not love.

But lusting for someone isn’t a bad thing, because love generally starts with lust and desire and grows and blossoms into love over a few weeks or months.

What you need to remember is that the happiest relationships are those where there’s a perfect balance of love and lust. But how can you tell apart lust vs love, and what is it that you’re experiencing, is it love or lust? [Read: 20 strong signs of sexual tension to know if you make each other horny]

Is it love or lust?

Often, our minds can get confused with the experiences and you may assume you or your new partner may be in love, when you’re just lusting for each other.

While sexual attraction is great to keep the chemistry alive, it’s no good in keeping a relationship happy and blissful.

When you’re in lust with someone, and not in love, you really don’t care about the future or the happy moments, all you care about is the urge in your pants.

It’s not always clear and easy to find out whether it’s love or lust, but these signs and ways to read the difference between love vs lust should help you find out if either of you is truly in love, or just experiencing lust for each other. [Read: Romantic attraction – How to know if what you feel is the real thing]

Lust vs love, which one is it?

If you’re feeling confused over what you’re feeling, and wondering if it’s love or lust, just use these signs to understand your mind and heart better.

1. What comes to your mind first?

If you’re filled with happiness and can’t hold your smile back when you see your new squeeze, you’re probably in love with them.

On the other hand, if you meet your lover and the first thing that comes to your mind every single time is how sexy they look or how badly you want to run your hands over their ass, your relationship is based on lust rather than love.

2. What do you think about?

Do you feel happy and romantic all day, and find yourself staring at happy things or smiling without realizing it yourself? You’re probably in love.

Or do you feel really horny or sexually excited throughout the day? If this is the case, lust is definitely in the air and lust wins the lust vs love debate for now. [Read: How to know if someone is thinking about you sexually and desires you]

3. Do you even talk and bond?

During the first couple of weeks or months, it’s natural that both of you can’t keep your hands off each other, and that’s okay. But once you’re past that first rush, how do both of you spend time with each other?

Do you end up making out all the time or do both of you have an intimate conversation? And even if you do make out or have sex, do both of you spend the night together, or do you kiss and say goodbye after an hour of great sex?

If having sex or making out is where all the fun ends and how all the time together is spent, then there’s more lust than love in the relationship. As important as physical intimacy can be, emotional connection too, is of vital importance in long-lasting love. [Read: The 25 best relationship topics to talk about if you want to be really happy in love]

4. It’s lust if every aspects of your relationship revolves around sex

When your relationship is built on lust, your primary motivation for sticking with that person is to have sex. That means that everything you do, all the sweet and romantic things, have an ulterior motive that will lead toward the bedroom.

This is where lust vs love differs, because true love is very different.

People in love value moments and experiences they share, even if they are mundane and boring to most. People in love don’t have to have sex all the time. Of course, it’s nice if they do, but it’s not usually the first thing on their minds. [Read: How often should you have sex? 15 signs you’re not having enough]

5. Quiet time vs fun times?

This is a subtle clue you can use to tell lust vs love apart. So where do you hang out over the weekends?

Do you and your partner go out with friends or party all night, or do both of you go out with each other to a restaurant or a quiet place to spend time with each other?

If you are genuinely in love with each other, you can’t help but want to spend time alone with each other, instead of running to a crowded spot. On the other hand, if you’re just looking to have a fun time, you’d prefer to spend time with friends. And if it’s lust on your mind, you’d go to a party and run your hands over each other all night.

So is it fun, love, or lust in your relationship? [Read: How much time should couples spend together? The real answer to calculate the hours]

6. Lust tends to focus on physical attraction

When you’re in lust, you have the mindset that looking good is paramount. As a result, you dress to the nines, you try really hard to keep in shape, and step out of your house looking like you jumped out of a centerfold. Why, you ask? Because you want sex.

For people in lust, looking their best is the way to remain attractive to the other person.

Love, on the other hand, doesn’t care if you go out wearing your old college shirt or a pair of trousers with a hole in them. For people in love, it is the person inside the clothes that truly matters. [Check out: What men like and want in bed – 22 things they lust after]

7. Your best memories matter in deciphering lust vs love

Spend a few seconds right now and think of your partner and some of the best memories you have together.

Is it love or lust that comes to your mind? If most of the thoughts that come to your mind revolve around making out or the places you’ve had sex, it’s pretty clear that lust holds an upper hand in your relationship.

8. You live in a fairytale world where the other person is flawless

When talking about lust vs love, it’s important to know that being in lust dulls your judgment because you tend to idealize both yourself and your partner.

While it is normal to put your best foot forward to make an impression, a more stable relationship requires you to put all your cards on the table so that the other person can know who you truly are—be it good or bad.

If you’re in lust, you tend to put up the facade of a person whom your partner idealizes. And likewise, you tend to look past the other person’s negative characteristics and focus only on the qualities that fit your fantasy.

The truth is that nobody is perfect. When you’re in love, you understand their flaws and accept them. [Read: The 12 qualities of a healthy relationship that keep couples happy]

9. When you think about your partner

When you’re at work or away from your partner, it’s natural to think of your new love now and then. When these fleeting moments of love drift in your mind, what do you think about?

Do you remember cuddling up and watching a movie, or your partner’s smile or laughter, or do you get gooseflesh remembering how good making out with this person feels?

If your thoughts linger on sexual memories more than all other memories, it definitely means you’re having a lot of great sex and that’s the high point in your relationship.

10. Lust vs love – You did not have a friendship stage

Most people in romantic relationships started out as friends – not always, but often. People who skipped the whole friendship ordeal and brought it straight to bed *yes, it happens* could just be in lust.

Friendship is the stepping stone to a deeper relationship, as it tests your compatibility, allows you to get to know each other, and even takes you to difficult moments where you can come out stronger. This type of relationship becomes the foundation of romantic love.

If you didn’t have a friendship stage, you probably had a dating stage instead. That’s comparable because you’re getting to know one another and understanding the other person better.

In deciphering lust vs love, it’s lust if you just side-step all of that and jump to the bedroom. [Read: The talking stage – What is it and how to progress to the next one]

11. Calling each other up

It’s not necessary to text or speak to each other every hour of the day, but it’s always great for the relationship when both of you communicate often.

What time of the day do both of you speak more often and what kind of conversations do you have? If both of you text each other throughout the day *that includes good morning texts*, love is definitely in the air.

But if the only time you spend communicating with each other is late at night, and all you talk about is how good it feels to make out, then it’s obviously only lust that’s holding your relationship together.

If both of you truly love each other, you’d think of each other throughout the day, not just at night when you’re all alone and feeling frisky.

12. You don’t really know the person

When it comes to telling apart lust vs love, being in lust makes you put up a fake act and live a constrained life because of the other person’s expectations.

Since the bulk of your moments together is spent tangled, naked, in bed, you don’t get to have real bonding moments where you can get to know who they are.

When you’re in love, you bare it all. You’ll get to know your partner intimately—even down to the tiniest details. [Try: 15 ways you’ll experience what real love truly feels like]

13. What do you want to do when you see each other?

Do you feel like making out every single time both of you meet each other? You may be going out with a gorgeous stunner, but if sex is all you can think about when you’re with your partner, and you have a hard time keeping your hands off their body, you’ve got a lusty situation in your hands.

A bit of cuddling and public display of affection is cute, but if both of you don’t have anything to talk about with each other and squeeze some kissing to keep the clock ticking when there’s a quiet moment, you’ve got some serious issues of communication and compatibility to deal with. [Read: 50 perfect questions for a new relationship to build a strong bond early on]

14. You’re insecure about your secrets and problems

When you’re in love, you rarely keep your problems from your partner and you trust them with your deepest secrets. You are comfortable with telling them anything without fear of being judged.

Being in lust, on the other hand, you are insecure about telling them your problems because let’s admit it, the trust between the two of you is superficial. You feel that giving them further information about yourself makes you too vulnerable.

15. There’s little emotional intimacy in lust

While the two of you may spend most of your waking moments having sex, it does not automatically mean that you have achieved intimacy in your relationship.

Intimacy doesn’t always mean having sex. Intimacy is being able to let your guard down and have complete trust in your significant other.

When it comes to lust vs love, if you are truly in love, you are at ease when you’re together and you find yourself emotionally invested. [Read: 13 weird, unique ways to build intimacy with your partner]

16. You don’t feel committed

People in lust feel little to no commitment in their relationships. As discussed in the bonfire analogy, lust can fizzle out quickly. A relationship based on lust alone can end as soon as you find the next person who captures your desire.

Love, on the other hand, is more enduring—even in the lust-less moments of the relationship. [Read: True love and promiscuous love in the real world]

17. You don’t have plans for the future

As a romantic relationship matures and you gradually become part of the other person’s life, you will come to a point where you include each other in future plans.

Not only that, but your decision-making will consider your significant other’s wants and needs. This kind of intimacy is nonexistent when you’re just in lust, as your primary motivation is sex.

When you’re truly in love with someone, you can’t help but think about the future with them. This is the biggest sign in finding out whether it’s love or lust on your mind.

Can you see your new lover in your life a few years down the lane or is that something you just can’t picture? Most of the time, we find someone we like and the sex is great and dandy, and we assume we’re in love.

But yet, if you give it a serious thought, you’d know you’re never really going to be happy with them in the years to come. If you can’t see your lover as an important part of your future, it’s a sure sign that it’s just lust working its charm in the lust vs love debate. [Read: What does a casual relationship mean to a guy and your future?]

18. Compromising in love

Do you compromise with your needs and wants now and then, if you know that doing something else would make your partner feel happy? Taking an initiative to compromise for each other is one of the biggest signs of true love.

But if you’re more interested in what you can get out of the relationship, and don’t really like giving in to do something your partner wants to do, it’s obviously not love but lust that’s holding the relationship together. [Read: How to compromise in a relationship and not feel like you lost out]

19. Making introductions to your friends

Do you like spending time with your lover, but feel embarrassed or awkward to introduce your lover to your friends? If you subconsciously feel awkward to be with your lover in public, it’s natural that the only reason you’re still together with them is because of the great sex.

If you genuinely love your partner, you’d be excited to introduce your sweetheart to all your friends because you’d see your partner as an important part of your life. [Read: 17 sordid signs you’re just a hookup and nothing more]

20. How involved are both of you?

Do you think about making out or having sex every time you think of your new lover? It’s great that you’re going out with someone you’re so physically attracted to, but if you truly love your partner, you’d also respect them and would want to hear about their opinion on your life and the issues in it.

If you think of your partner only when you’re feeling lonely or horny, there’s a good chance that you don’t really love your new sweetheart, and only lust about them.

21. Eventually, sex will get boring

When it comes to lust vs love, the greatest irony of a lust-based relationship is that your sexual escapades will get boring in due time. When that time comes, you’ll be off to find the next person to satisfy your sexual desires.

People in love enjoy every moment of their love-making. They will not tire of it, even if age has weathered their physique and taken their stamina. [Read: How to make sex more interesting when it’s boring and really lame]

We know about lust vs love, but can lust turn into love?

For sure! Sometimes, relationships start off as lust and they turn into love. That’s the aim. While you’re there having all the sex, you start to slowly open up to one another. Then, you start to become a little more vulnerable emotionally. That’s when love starts to take over. 

Some couples never make it out of the lust stage. And there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what they both want.

Having a great time together may be all they’re interested in at that point in their lives. However, if you really like this person beyond the time you spend in bed, start by opening up a little and trying to get to know them as a person.

If they feel the same, they’ll respond in kind. Slowly, the lust will clear and it will be less about sex and more about being together.

That doesn’t mean those crazy, ‘ripping each other’s clothes off’ days are behind you, it just means something altogether more wonderful has been added to your relationship. 

 [Read: How to read the signs your casual relationship is getting serious]

Lust is only a part of love. It can survive on its own, but only for a while. Love is a deeper and far more enduring relationship and can happen even without lust. Now you understand the lust vs love debate, which is it for you?

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...