A lot of people argue that there’s no way you can love someone without knowing anything about them and that rush of feelings you get when you immediately like someone is just lust. But how long does it take to fall head over heels in love with someone? How do you know when it isn’t just physical attraction at its finest? There are no hard and fast rules, but there are a few ways you can tell the difference between love and lust.
Depth of knowledge If you want to know everything about him — the good, the bad, and the ugly — then it’s love. That’s the only explanation for why you care so much about the pet iguana he had growing up and how it took him six months to learn how to perfect his near-perfect dumpling-making technique. If you only want to know what he looks like naked and have no interest in the finer details of his life, it’s lust.
Remembering the little things If you can name his favorite movie, band, food, and beer without even thinking, it’s love. Why else would you be able to order his morning coffee — a half-caff oat milk latte (he’s sensitive to dairy) with an extra shot of espresso? If you only know his favorite sexual position and the craziest place he’s ever gotten a blow job, it’s lust.
Relaying your day If you can’t wait to tell him about the funny thing that happened at work today and always go to him first with news, whether it’s good or bad, it’s love. If you can’t wait to try the new weird sex tip you read in Cosmo on him, it’s lust. The things you talk to him about and how high he is on your list of people to talk to in the first place say a lot about your feelings for him (or lack thereof).
Caring for him If you’re at his doorstep with soup, NyQuil, and your beloved box set of Seinfeld on DVD when he’s sick, it’s love. You know how awful even a minor cold can be and you don’t want him sitting around feeling sorry for himself any more than necessary. That’s just what you do when you care about someone. However, if you tell him you’ll stop by in a few days when he’s no longer contagious and don’t think twice about avoiding him, it’s lust.
Post-sex affection If cuddling after sex is half the fun, it’s love (or at least a long way towards getting there). Your connection in bed is deeper than it used to be and you find yourself wanting to stay in his arms well after the deed is done. He seems hesitant to let you go too. If you have a get in and get out type of arrangement, it’s lust. You can’t really form a relationship if you’re rushing out the door all the time.
Making plans to hang out If he’s the first person you think of when you find yourself with an extra ticket to an awesome sold-out concert, it’s love. It means you want to spend special moments with him and make memories you’ll be able to look back on for years to come. If you’d rather just stop by after the show when you’re sweaty, full of adrenaline, and want a quickie, it’s lust.
Future potential If you can genuinely see him as the father of your future children and you choose your favorite names based on what goes well with his last name, it’s love. If the thought of having his baby makes you chuckle and shake your head before you swallow your birth control pill, you don’t need to ask yourself whether it’s love or lust. You know the answer.
Talking about him to your friends If you gush about how smart, hilarious, and sweet he is to your friends, it’s love. They often roll their eyes (lovingly, of course) every time you mention his name because you literally never shut up about him. That being said, if your friends only know him as “the guy with the pecs of Hercules and the penis of James Deen,” it is, without a doubt, lust.
Talking about him to your family If you’ve told your mom you met someone you think has serious potential, it’s love. You literally never mention the guys you date to your family because they always end up exiting your life long before they ever get a chance to meet your mom and dad. If your parents will never know he exists, it’s clearly lust.
Getting out and about together If you’re seen in public with him on a regular basis and it’s obvious you two are more than friends, it’s love. You like being seen in public together and relishing the reactions you get when you are — awww! If you prefer to spend the majority of your time with him in bed, on the other hand, it’s clearly just lust. You don’t need to leave the house for that.
Spending time just chatting If you talk on the phone or text for hours some nights, it’s love. You can rattle on about absolutely anything and still feel entertained and engaged. Sometimes you stay on the phone until one or both of you falls asleep and it’s not awkward or weird, it’s actually pretty comfortable. That being said, if your text conversations consist of nothing but “Your place or mine?” and “What time?”, it’s lust.
How often he’s on your mind If you often think about what he’s doing, what he’s thinking, what you’ll do the next time you’re together, and your future together, it’s probably love. You can’t get him off your mind and there’s no use trying. Of course, if you barely remember he exists until you’ve had a few too many on Friday night and decide to booty call him, it’s lust.
Conflict resolution If you try to avoid fighting whenever possible and talk about your issues openly and rationally, it’s love. That’s not to say that you never disagree, just that you know how to handle these disagreements like a mature adult and you nevr resort to the blame game or slinging low blows because you would never want to hurt him. If you don’t mind having huge screaming matches because, well, make-up sex, it’s lust.
Fitting in with his family If you’re willing to go to every one of his nieces’ and nephews’ birthday parties just because he asked you to, it’s love. You actually find it pretty sweet that he wants you there with him and that’s enough of a reason to go on its own even if you’re not looking forward to it much. If you avoid anything resembling a family function at all costs, it’s lust.
Unconditional attraction If you’re still attracted to him even when he stops working out as much as he used to, lets his hair get too long, and insists on wearing that old discolored T-shirt with all the holes in it, it’s love. If you don’t even recognize him without his signature scruff, six-pack, and perfect casual put-together fashion sense that attracted you to him in the first place, it’s lust.
For more ways to distinguish between love and lust, check out this TEDx Talk with Dr. Terri Orbuch, also known as The Love Doctor. It’s really interesting!
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