Is it LOVE or is it LUST…

I believe Love has stages and Lust is just the beginning…

Yesterday as I was at a restaurant for lunch and at the table next to where I was there was a mother and daughter having lunch. the daughter asked the mom if she knew how to tell the difference between love and lust. The poor mother looked bewildered. The daughter was probably in her twenties, so I think this is totally an appropriate question for her to be asking. Even though the poor mom didn’t look like she knew what to say. My mom and I (because we were having lunch together too) were finished so we left. In the car I asked my mom if she knew the answer to the question. She looked at me and  asked “Isn’t it the same?”, I was taken by surprise that my mom would think they were. I told her I was absolutely sure they weren’t the same thing. So her next question to me was…” So, what’s the difference?”.

Here’s what I told her…

In my opinion Love is an intense feeling of affection toward another person. It’s a profound and caring attraction that forms emotional attachment. On the flip side, Lust is a strong desire of a sexual nature that is based on physical attraction. Now don’t get me wrong. I do believe that Lust can transform into a deep romantic love, but if you’re lucky enough for that to happen it usually takes time.

I believe that Two individuals can and will transform their lust into love when they get to see the other person as a whole individual (their strengths and weaknesses) and get past the “fantasy level. 

I think it’s very easy to mistake lust for love. But I also think that lust is the first stage of falling in love. Confused yet? Stay with me please as I try to explain myself. I think to actually get to “Love” a person goes through stages. Here’s what I think they are…

Stage 1: Lust

Like I had said earlier, lust is the first stage of falling in love. Lust is driven by desire. The sex hormones play an important role in this stage. According to experts, this stage may begin immediately (hence the well known term “Love at first sight” ) and can last up to two years (this I’m a little iffy on). 

Usually you can tell that it’s lust when:

  • You’re focused on the physical appearance of the person of your desire.
  • There is a strong desire to have sex, but not deep emotional conversations.
  • You’d rather keep the relationship on a fantasy level, not discuss real feelings.
  • You are lovers, but not necessarily friends.

Stage 2: Attraction

Stage two is probably my favorite stage to be in. This is the “love-struck” stage. You know… it’s when you spend hours and hours daydreaming about your lover. When you lose sleep or your appetite just thinking about that special someone. When you get butterflies because you get a text and you rush to see if it’s from them. When you have that dorky smile on your face and you can’t stop smiling, just because you’re thinking about him or her. When these things are happening…you know you’re in this stage. In this stage it’s the neurohormones that play an important role in the attraction or infatuation. These neurohormones are dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These are the hormones that send our heart racing, and might actually make us feel like we are going insane.

Stage 3: Deep Love and Attachment

Now this is the Love stage!! It’s when a couple has gotten to know themselves beyond the dating phase and they get to see their partner’s “whole” personality. This includes their strengths and weaknesses. It’s when you get to know these things and yet you still choose to love and accept each other for who they are. This is when the neurohormone of “love” called oxytocin takes over. This is the commitment hormone. This is when most guys, make a run for it…just kidding…maybe not. Anyway this neurohormone is released during orgasm and believed to promote bonding when adults are intimate.

The theory goes on that the more sex a couple has, the deeper the bond becomes. Socrates was correct when he said “where there is love there is madness.” Romantic love and addiction share similar brain chemistry. Therefore, I believe that if you are not interested in a serious committed relationship, You should not casually sleep with someone, because you are likely to bond with the individual with whom you have an orgasm with. In other words, we are basically kidding ourselves when we say we are going to keep it casual. Our brain is wired to bond and connect with a partner with whom we experience the pleasure of orgasm. So even if you want to keep it casual, your brain just doesn’t care. 

Signs that you’re in true romantic love

This type of love is not just an emotion, it’s also a craving. It’s when there is a strong emotional craving, the love drive is even stronger than the sex drive. Here are the signs of this type of love.

  • Possessiveness: You know, that’s when you desire only that one person, you know you are in deep romantic love.
  • You want to spend quality time together other than just having sex.
  • You get lost in conversations and forget about the hours passing. (One of my personal favorites)
  • 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.

It’s at this stage, that instead of a split between love and lust, your new path lies in the balancing of the two: committed love and red hot sex. It’s security and excitement, continuity and novelty, safety and adventure, comfort and passion. The happiest couples are the ones that can maintain a balance between lust and love.

So if anything I believe we should enjoy the journey of self-discovery being with someone for whom you lust. If the chemistry is right, it will transform into romantic love!

Don’t rush it; allow it to unfold naturally. Be sure that the more you bring love, honesty, passion and romance into your own self-relationship, the easier it will be to attract someone who shares those same qualities.

There is a book that I read a few years back. I think it was sometime in 2010. Where I learned these stages and I totally agreed with Dr. Helen Fisher, a well-known researcher on the topic of romantic love. It is she that has identified these three stages to falling in love in her excellent book Why Him? Why Her?: How to Find and Keep Lasting LoveIt is inspiration by her research that has helped me in writing this post.

If you have thought about the stages of falling in love, or a thought you’d like to share, leave a comment below. 🙂

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