“If they substituted the word ‘Lust’ for ‘Love’ in the popular songs it would come nearer the truth.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen how intense sexual attraction is notorious for obliterating common sense and intuition in the most sensible people. It’s important to tell the difference between lust and love. Lust is an altered state of consciousness programmed by the primal urge to procreate.
Studies suggest that the brain in this phase is much like a brain on drugs. MRI scans illustrate that the same area lights up when an addict gets a fix of cocaine as when a person is experiencing the intense lust of physical attraction.
Also in the early stage of a relationship, when the sex hormones are raging, lust is fueled by idealization and projection–you see what you hope someone will be or need them to be–rather than seeing the real person, flaws and all.
In my book “Guide to Intuitive Healing” I discuss the difference between lust and love as well as techniques to enhance sexual wellness.
Pure lust is based solely on physical attraction and fantasy–it often dissipates when the “real person” surfaces. It’s the stage of wearing rose-colored glasses when he or she “can do no wrong.”
Being in love doesn’t exclude lust. In fact, lust can lead to love. However, real love, not based on idealization or projection, requires time to get to know each other.
Here are some signs to watch for to differentiate pure lust from love.
Signs Of Lust
- You’re totally focused on a person’s looks and body.
- You’re interested in getting physically intimate, but not in having conversations.
- You’d rather keep the relationship on a fantasy level, not discuss real feelings.
- You want to leave soon after sex rather than cuddling or breakfast the next morning.
- You are lovers, but not friends.
Signs Of Love
- You want to spend quality time together with other than sex.
- You get lost in conversations and forget about the hours passing.
- You want to honestly listen to each other’s feelings, 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.
Another challenge of sexual attraction is learning to stay centered and listen to your gut in the early stages of being with someone. This isn’t easy in the midst of hormones surging, but it’s essential to make healthy relationship decisions.
Here are some tips to help you keep your presence of mind when you’re attracted to someone. This needn’t pull the plug on passion, but it’ll make you more aware so you don’t go looking for trouble.
Four Negative Gut Feelings About Relationships (From Guide to Intuitive Healing )
- A little voice in your gut says “danger” or “beware.”
- You have a sense of malaise, discomfort, or feeling drained after you’re together.