When you’re seeing someone new and the sex is incredible, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re in love when you’re really not. Of course, love and lust can coexist, but at their root, they’re two entirely different things. So how do you know which of those two powerful emotions you’re experiencing?
In a recent TED Talk, therapist, sociology professor, and author Terri Orbuch laid it all out for us in black and white. There are certain qualities that separate love from lust, and once you know them, your love life should go a whole lot more smoothly.
- Connection Obviously couples who are in love need to connect to each other, but when you love someone, you also want to connect them to the rest of your life and the people in it. That means you’ll be excited to introduce your partner to your friends and family and happy to show them off whenever you have the opportunity to do so.
- Thinking of yourself as part of a team If you find yourself using “we” more often than “I,” you’re thinking as part of a couple rather than an individual who puts yourself first. Orbuch refers to this as “mutuality,” or the act of entwining your lives so that you’re functioning as a unit. For instance, if you went shopping last weekend, a person who’s in love would say, “We went shopping” rather than “I went shopping with [insert partner’s name here].”
- Willingness to reveal ourselves When you love someone, you want them to know everything about you and vice versa. You don’t hold back or try to keep details about your life secret. You might be scared of vulnerability but you’re willing to allow yourself to be vulnerable for the sake of your relationship. If you’re happy to get deep and meaningful with your partner, you’re in love.
- Influence In a relationship, it’s natural and expected that you consider the other person. When you truly love someone, you not only think about how your decisions might affect them but you also go to them with your problems, triumphs, etc. because you know you can rely on them for support and encouragement. If you’re happy to continue living your life without considering the other person, you’re probably firmly in the lust category.