Love or Lust? Or both? Is your relationship headed for long-term success, or is it more of a short-term fling?
Here are 10 ways to find out.
1. Eye contact
Do you and your partner make a lot of eye contact? Partners in lust tend to make less, as the brain’s focus is on gross physical anatomy, as in body shape, the view from a distance, etc. Partners in love tend to do more eye gazing, wanting to travel into each others’ souls. Eye gazing is more emotionally intimate that scanning our partner’s body, and a sign partners are wanting to get to know each other more deeply than just physically.
Partners in lust play more mind games with one another. In dating, partners in lust are more strategic, using manipulations, longing and jealousy to leverage desire. Partners in love dispatch these kinds of games to have a more sincere and transparent communication between them. Partners in love are less concerned with desire, and more concerned with trust and security.
Partners in lust show less vulnerability with one another. Showing vulnerability may be seen as a sign of weakness, something partners in lust can’t afford to do because of the power game still being played. Partners in love want equality, and seek to deepen their emotional relationship by showing more vulnerable parts of themselves.
Partners in lust typically are not as interested in one anothers’ past, family members, or complicated aspects of their current lives. They are more focused on physical gratification and pleasure. Partners in lust are not totally in the true friend category yet. They can’t be trusted to really care about the other people important to each others’ lives, they mostly just focus on one another. Partners in love take an interest in each others’ family members, including extended family, and want to understand each others’ past and the nuances of current life experiences.
Partners in love engage in more ‘meta-communication.’ Meta-communication is exploring the nature of how we interact. Partners in love are interested in making their interactions feel safer, more open and trusting. Partners in lust tend to stick to certain topics, because the nature of conversation is not as important. Conversation, in the case of partners in lust, is more of a prelude to physical intimacy rather than an important intimate experience in its own right.
6. Perseverance & Consistency
Partners in love stick it out with each other and are there for one another even when things get tricky. There is less leaving and being suddenly unavailable when things are annoying or challenging. Partners in lust are less likely to hang in there when the chips are down. Staying consistent during stressful times is a critical part of forming a long-term, stable relationship. For example, partners in lust often leave after sex or during other non-peak ‘filler’ times. Partners in love stay together throughout the day, through the ups and downs of daily experience.
7. Can we have both?
Yes. A relationship can have lust and love. In order to accomplish that, it typically needs to mature in both areas as the relationship grows. For example, as love deepens, do partners keep their romantic lives stimulating, deepening their exploration of physical intimacy as well? Or do their physical lives remain more or less the same as their emotional life matures? Both aspects benefit from tending and attention. A couple needs to focus on deepening their emotional bond in order to expand a sense of love, but also preserve the mystery and novelty that drives lust. A great way to do both is to have a healthy sense of play that extends to both emotional and physical intimacy.
8. Does love kill lust?
No, not necessarily. But it can. The idea that an emotional friendship will kindle sex drive is not entirely accurate. Feeling safe and connected emotionally is typically good for romance, because both partners need to be able to relax and be vulnerable to deepen their physical relationship. But within that context of overall safety and trust, partners need to know how to turn on the ‘strangerness’ of their physical intimacy as well, to keep things exciting to the more instinctive part of the brain.
9. Does my partner love me?
Tough question. Typically, if people have to think about it, the love is not very strong. On the other hand, there are situations where people do love one another but have trouble being in touch with the part of themselves that feels it. Does your partner consider your needs as well as their own? Do they think about you when you’re apart and do little things they know make your life easier? Do they say sweet things to you about unique qualities you possess that set you part from others? Those are all signs of love. If you partner speaks in generalities about you, using descriptors that apply to half the population (or those with your body type), and doesn’t seem to keep you in mind when apart, it suggests more of a lust-based connection.
10. Can lust turn into love?
Yes. Relationships often begin with lust, then deepen into love. But some relationships don’t deepen into love, because one or both partners are uncomfortable with emotional intimacy, or its not the right fit. If you’re looking for a love relationship, a secure and stable long-term partnership, you want to identify signs of love within the first 6 months. If your relationship has not matured past the signs of a lust-driven relationship by then, chances are it may not, and you should evaluate how ready you both are for a love relationship.