Difference between Love and Lust

By: | Updated: Feb-8, 2018
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When caught in a steamy relationship, most people find it hard to tell whether what they are feeling is actually love, or just lust. They both feel just as intense and they both make you want to be close to the other person. So, how do you distinguish between love and lust?

Summary Table

Love Lust
Goes beyond physical contact Is only about physical contact
Implies emotional investment Can be mistaken for emotional investment on account of the intensity of the feelings
Implies having a common circle of family and friends Means having no interest in the other’s circle of friends
Means wanting to spend a lifetime together Is mostly about the “consumption” of the here and now
A real desire to communicate and share with the other All discussion is around the sexual tension between the individuals


loving couple

Love is a strongly felt emotion that encompasses a wide spectrum of feelings and mental states. It is difficult to define as everybody experiences it differently. However, one would expect from a person in love to put the needs of the partner first, enjoy their company, be able to make long-term plans with that person and be capable of compromise to keep them close and make them happy.

waling girl

Lust is a very strong feeling of attraction manifested toward another person. It mainly boils down to sex, but it is often made out to be much more than that, due to the intensity of the emotions. This is mainly a physical thing and it usually simmers down once the initial desire has been satisfied.

Love vs Lust

When there is a strong attraction toward another person, most of us wonder whether it is only about sex or a real connection. Here is how you can tell the difference between love and lust.

Physical contact

When you are in love, physical contact is amazing. And so is with lust. However, with love, once the intercourse is over, you are more than excited to make new plans with the other person, be it a walk in the park, a dinner or a movie. Everything is just as exciting as sex. With lust, once the intercourse is over, you usually want to get on with your day without necessarily including the other person in your plans. You may want to have intercourse with that person again, but this is your main area of interest with regard to them.

Emotional investment

With love, every word you tell another person is an emotional investment. You want to get to know them and you want them to really know you. In the case of lust, however, what may seem like emotional investment may, in fact, only be a seduction technique. For example, you can talk about your childhood dreams, not because you want that person to know them and share in them, but because you want to make yourself more appealing.

Friends and family

Established couples have a common circle of family and friends. They spend a considerable amount of time with these people. Now, provided that when two people fall in love, they will want to be left alone to explore their relationship, note that there is a very clear difference between love and lust when it comes to other people.

When you love someone, you want to become immersed in their world. This means being open to having their closest friends become your friends. You don’t have to like all of them but you have to want to know them.

Lust, however, does not leave room for such sentiments. Although easily mistaken for love at the beginning, because the two want to be alone for obvious reasons, when it is only lust, there is no real interest in becoming part of the other person’s life and circle of friends.

Long-term plans

Love means wanting to spend a lifetime together with the other person. Lust is all about living the moment and about immediate relationship consumption. With love, you want to see the other grow old, whereas lust is mainly based on present-day looks and instant attraction.


When two people are in love, some of the conversations may get awkward, as anxiety may kick in from a real desire to impress and to keep the other connected. However, there is a genuine wish to communicate and to share ideas and emotions. With lust, most of the conversations are devoid of real sentiment and mainly revolve around the burning issue of the sexual tension between the two.

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