Are you in love or lust? Here's how to know and why it's essential to understand the difference

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There is a difference between love and lust.
There is a difference between love and lust.
Photo: MoMo Productions/Getty Images

  • Relationship expert Paula Quinsee says lust can turn into love, but there is no way to guarantee a loving relationship or long-term compatibility.
  • Intimacy develops and deepens because of how a couple interacts the amount of quality time they spend together, and their level of emotional vulnerability.

  • If you are wondering whether a lustful connection could ever turn into love, Paula says that cannot be ruled out.

A new romance is exciting, and when emotions run high, you may be too overwhelmed to ascertain if it is love or lust. There is nothing wrong with being with someone purely because of desire, but perhaps it is essential to understand the difference between the two. Why is this?

You don't want to lose interest after a few sexual encounters or have someone lose interest in you because that may leave you feeling confused and longing. Relationship expert Paula Quinsee says there is a scientific explanation for the excitement of a new 'love bite'.

"The brain releases testosterone and estrogen, which combine with adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. New lovers feel excitement, pleasure, desire, and increased energy.

"In other words, a combination of attraction, infatuation, and lust. This phase ranges from six to 18 months and occasionally as long as three years, depending on the couple's dynamics before moving into the next phase of their relationship – love."

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Sex or physical attraction falls under the confines of lust. Paula says you're in a lust phase when you engage with someone based purely on sexual attraction. In other words, you spend most of your time being physically intimate with very little interest or interaction in your life outside the bedroom.

She adds that where love is concerned, intimacy develops and deepens because of how a couple interacts, the amount of quality time they spend together, their level of emotional vulnerability and the activities they share.

"Sex and intimacy are essential basic needs in a relationship. They may be viewed as interchangeable, but they are not the same. The physical act of sex can be a form of connection, but love requires emotional intimacy, which is the connection that allows a couple to share their inner worlds."

If you are wondering whether a lustful connection or situationship could ever turn into love, well, Paula says that cannot be ruled out.

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"Lust can turn into love, but there is no guarantee that lust will evolve into a loving relationship or a couple's compatibility in the long term.

"Love involves emotional and physical intimacy, which can spike or slow as the relationship evolves. The more comfortable couples become with each other, the more they may be willing to experiment sexually to keep the spark and excitement alive, but this largely depends on their sexual appetite.

The majority of the time, sexual activity starts to wane, especially when children come along, and couples shift their focus from their relationship and each other to parenting."

"When there is very little emotional connection, over time, the excitement can start to fade, leaving very little in common with each other," Paula explains.

READ MORE | Intimacy and sex tend to be used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing

When there isn't communication or the people involved aren't on the same page, one partner may start to have feelings which are not reciprocated, especially when the interaction is based on lust.

 "This can result in resentment or anger as it is seen as a form of rejection or feeling used by the other person. In the long term, it can lead to heartbreak, and the knock-on effect is that a person may lose their ability to connect and be intimate in meaningful ways for fear of being used or rejected again as soon as they become intimate with someone," she adds.

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