What Is Lust? 25 Typical Signs to Look For & Ways to Turn It into Love

What is lust? Is it sexual desire, or something deeper? Here’s the real definition of lust, and how it relates to love.

what is lust

Lust is an important element in any romantic relationship. This strong sexual desire may sometimes fool us into believing it can be something more. But when the flame is finally put out, we’re left to face the cold truth that things are not as magical as they seemed.

Let’s take a moment to look back at some of your past relationships. Can you tell which ones were true love and which ones just gave great orgasms?

[Read: Are you in love? The clear signs you’re past lust & really in love]

People make lists comparing love and lust and tell you how to distinguish what kind of relationship you’re in. What they don’t tell you is whether you can turn a lusty tryst into a meaningful relationship. So let’s delve into the truth, define what lust is, and find out if it’s even possible to turn your FWB situation into a relationship.

What is the meaning of lust?

Lust, as defined in the dictionary, is an intense or unrestrained sexual craving. It is a feeling of strong sexual desire for another person, which acts as the initial driving force that attracts us to a potential partner. In theory, it’s so easy to tell the difference – but not in real life, love can feel pretty similar.

Love is a state of strong desire to be with another person, which often leads to emotional arousal and sexual passion. When a person feels love towards another person, the brain produces chemicals like dopamine that affect the person in the same way as addictive behavior. This phenomenon is usually seen in the early stages of romantic relationships.

[Read: Am I in love? 30 signs to read the fuzzy flutters after infatuation]

How is lust different from love?

So now that you know the definitions of lust and love, what are the differences?

Well, the main difference between love and lust is that lust is nothing more than a physical action that comes from sexual attraction. It includes spending most of your time being physically intimate with a partner and having little interest in their life outside the bedroom.

When you’re in love, however, you share the same values, you want to be emotionally vulnerable and have shared interests and expectations for the future.

[Read: Love sucks! 36 reasons why we hate it and yet crave for it]

The clear signs you’re in lust, not in love

When you’re in the moment, it can be hard to see past her long blonde hair, his 6-pack, or how horny you are— But the truth is, there are some obvious telltale signs of lust. Take off the rose-tinted glasses and take a look at these 11 signs you’re in lust and not love.

[Read: 13 signs to help you recognize true love when it comes into your life]

1. You overlook bad personality traits

She is dating other people, and you’re okay with that. He makes dumb comments about your weight or your attitude. She’s an absolute liar. He openly hates your friends.

All of these are completely unacceptable personality traits for boyfriend/girlfriend material – yet you overlook it all just for another chance to see them naked. Oops, you’re in lust. [Read: What are you feeling? Is it love or lust?]

2. Their quirks turn you off

In an episode of an old show ‘How I Met Your Mother’, there’s a famous quote: “Shouldn’t we hold out for the person who doesn’t just tolerate our little quirks but actually loves them?”

And this is completely true when it comes to love. If you’re really in love with a person, you’ll fall in love with their quirks, too.

So take a moment to think about your partner. Is there something that you view as a ‘turn off’? If the answer is yes, you’re probably just lusting for that person.

[Read: 15 creepy people types you’ll come across & how to recognize them]

3. You’re all fire and no faith

One of the biggest draws of lust is the passion involved. When you lust after someone there is a fire – an obsession – that can be very addictive.

If your ‘relationship’ feels full of fire, chaos, and gut-wrenching butterflies but lacks any form of stability, consider yourself lustful.

[Read: No strings attached relationships: how to have them, end them & 35 NSA rules]

4. You know nothing substantial about your date and vice-versa

If you’re not comfortable enough to share your life with your partner, that’s a red flag. Furthermore, if you never bother asking your lover about their life, job, or family, then you most certainly are in Lust-Ville.

[Read: How to know if you love someone – Early signs of a new romance]

5. You can’t talk to them

Not small talk, but actual meaningful conversations. Are they one of the first people you run to when everything goes wrong? Can you tell them a secret and trust them with it?

If your answer is no, what are you even doing?

[Read: 50 warm, feel-good questions to ask a girl to get to know her better]

6. You don’t go on dates

Unfortunately, Netflix and chill isn’t considered a real date.

Have you and the person you’re with ever spent time together outside of a sexual context? For example, having a walk in the park, going out for a fancy dinner, going to the museum, or visiting an amusement park?

When you’re in a serious relationship, you should be able to do non-sexual things with each other and enjoy each other’s company.

[Read: Romantic dinner date ideas: 17 fun dates you both will never forget]

7. You don’t see a future together

You don’t have to know if you’re going to marry someone after two months, but you should definitely have a feel for whether you could be in a long-term situation with your current partner. If you don’t see a future with them, then you are definitely in lust. No more wondering what lust is!

[Read: 17 sordid signs you’re just a hook-up and nothing more]

8. You love people seeing you with someone so hot

Showing off your partner is either a great way to show them that you care… or that you’re completely shallow. It’s a slippery slope, isn’t it?

The truth is that those in lusty relationships are extremely keen on showing off how hot their lover is, and they love being seen in public with someone so attractive. This is great for relationships, too, but it turns into a lust-induced problem when *all* you want is to admire their physical appearance instead of getting to know them.

[Read: Healthy relationship: 27 signs, qualities & what it looks like in real life]

9. Silence is the Devil

If a sudden silence sparks terrifying panic, then odds are you are either at the awkward beginning stages of dating, or you’re in lust. When you like someone, you want to get to know them and use quiet opportunities to snuggle or to make conversation.

If being silent in the same room only makes you wonder why you aren’t getting naked right now, then your relationship probably exists purely on a surface level. [Read: 10 booty call moves that may look like true love]

10. You don’t feel the butterflies after sex

Ever feel less attracted to a person after an orgasm? That’s post-nut clarity, defined by Urban Dictionary as “the immediate clear-mindedness or soberness an individual gains after orgasming.” This can happen in both men and women but is more common in men.

So if the passion wears off with the horniness, it’s obvious that you’re not in love with them.

[Read: 30 weird facts about guys, their deviant minds, crushes & love life]

11. Your attraction to the other person is only on a physical level

When someone asks you what you love most about your partner, is the first thing to come up in your mind a physical trait?

This may be proof that you’re only attracted to them on a physical level, and it probably won’t last. Remember, sexual lust results in physical actions to fulfill one’s desires, and nothing more than that.

[Read: 13 signs to help you recognize true love when it comes into your life]

Questions to ask yourself if it’s lust

So you’ve noticed the signs, but you’re still not sure. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to be more certain before it gets more serious.

[Read: 20 signs you’re not attracted to your partner & how to spark it up again]

1. What are your intentions toward this relationship?

It’s always a bad idea to jump head-first into a relationship simply because you want someone. Remember that a relationship isn’t just two people having sex all day every day. It’s also about understanding, communication, patience, and respect.

2. Are you willing to endure the hard work?

As mentioned above, a relationship requires more effort than you may think. If you only want your partner when they’re in a good mood and cannot handle their drama, you two shouldn’t be together romantically.

3. What are your feelings toward the person’s imperfections?

Until you accept a person’s flaws and stop seeing them as flaws, it’s only lust.

4. Does the relationship improve as time passes?

So you’ve figured out where you both went wrong and tried to fix it, but it gradually becomes forced or only gets worse. That’s when you know it’s best to go separate ways.

Is it normal to feel lust?

In the bible, lust is defined as sexual immorality, and everyone who acts upon it is sinful.

In reality, as long as you can acknowledge that you are in a lusty dating situation, it may not actually be that bad for you. Just as long as your ‘relationship’ is not harming you or the other person physically or psychologically, we say there are actually some upsides to being in lust.

1. It’s the perfect rebound

Rebounds usually crop up around after a serious, long-term relationship has just ended. This is your way of reminding yourself that someone else is out there and that you’re still able to care about someone else.

A rebound is usually defined as “bouncing back” from a broken relationship and it helps you move on. So why not do it with someone absolutely gorgeous? Just make sure that the person you’re having sexual intercourse with isn’t expecting more from you, so you both can enjoy the experience. [Read: 13 rebound sex questions to know if you’re ready for it]

2. You’ve never looked better

When you’re in lust, you want to look and feel your best so that your partner will be equally as attracted to you as you are to them. You’re plucked, waxed, curled, and always look like a walking temptation.

This usually results in you working out and eating better. Both of these habits can boost your confidence and make you feel like a sexy beast. What’s so bad about that?

[Read: How to dress sexy: 29 subtle & classy ways to make them lust for you]

3. You don’t have to worry about someone else’s drama

Why not admit that you’re in lust and embrace a surface-level relationship for a while? This means you rarely have to deal with someone else’s drama because the truth is… you probably don’t know enough about them to be involved in their problems!

4. It helps you figure out what you want out of a relationship

Being in a bad relationship sucks, but it can help you figure out what you want from a real partner down the road. Take some cues from the lusty relationship you’re in, and put your foot down about what you will and will not accept from a future partner. [Read: Are you sure about what you’re looking for in a relationship?]

Wrong ways of expressing lust

Even though lust is a common thing and is very normal, it’s not always okay to act on it.

1. Showing it non-consensually

When you’re lusting for someone, if the feelings aren’t reciprocated, you must respect the person’s wish to be left alone. It’s unattractive and/or annoying to keep pursuing someone who’s rejected you.

In no circumstance is it okay to be sexual with a person without their consent. No means no.

2. Not respecting their boundaries

Whether you’re in a friends-with-benefits relationship or a committed relationship, boundaries are still important. You need to respect each other’s boundaries and communicate clearly before making your moves.

Can you turn lust into something more?

Lust is a tricky mistress. You may be wondering if you can turn lust into a meaningful relationship, and unfortunately, the answer is usually not. When you are in lust, your brain usually puts your lusty lover in a figurative box somewhere in between friends-with-benefits, boyfriend-material, and friend-zoned.

These three things work together to create a partner you can’t wait to get naked with, but don’t see a future with, nor do you desire to get to know them.

If you’re really set on turning lust into love, here are some tips:

[Read: 47 sweet signs you’re falling in love & slowly moving past the like stage]

1. Create a friendship

Start opening up to your lover and making a diligent effort to share your life with this person.

This means telling them about your life growing up, your dream job, your aspirations, your values, and anything else you would tell your BFF about. The best way to turn lust into love is by creating a friendship with that person. [Read: Love is in the air! 13 signs you’re starting to fall in love]

2. Do things together

If you want to turn your lust into love, try doing things other than having sex. Go out and bond over common interests. Invite your friends over for a mutual hang out, play sports, play video games, or meet each other’s families. Ask get-to-know-you questions and try to care about what the answer is.

3. Take it slowly

If you’re all about the animal magnetism you feel together, try taking a step back. If you’re pounding away like jack-rabbits 24/7, that means you’ve skipped some pretty important ‘relationship’ steps like, you know, dating. [Read: How to fall in love slowly like you’re in a fairy tale]

Slow it down and try to re-establish a traditional approach to relationships. Go out on dates, text each other daily, and take time to make out without it leading to sex so you can build up sexual tension. Building a bond is important for creating a real relationship.

4. Understand it may not happen

Don’t be disappointed if it still doesn’t work out. Odds are, if you’re in lust, so is your partner. When you start opening the ‘relationship’ door, your partner may not be receptive. And no matter how much you try to build an emotional connection, you may end up with a dud.

[Read: The real signs of true love in a relationship]

We can all agree that lust is quite a mess, especially if you’re trying to turn a lusty relationship into a meaningful one. Nevertheless, it can still be done with a lot of determination and effort from both parties. 

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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...