Lust or Love?

Any new relationship can struggle with the question “Is it Lust or Love?” An answer to that question was in a video I recently watched on YouTube by Terri Orbuch presented as a TEDx talk at Oakland University. Entitled “Is it lust or is it love?”, it gave some great relational advice for couples, especially ones that are exploring a new relationship, or trying to revive an old one.

While there is no shortage of love/lust advice, most of the ones I saw don’t give down-to-earth advice. This one gives real, useful advice on how to tell the difference between love and lust, and how to bring back the “Lust” part to more mature relationships. It was so well done, I wanted to bring a synopsis to

Symptoms of Lust

Physical Attraction

You have a solely physical and sexual attraction to the person. You constantly have the other person on your mind and see them this way.

Idealize Your Partner

You glorify or idealize your partner – you make them out to be more perfect than they are, and don’t see their imperfections. You see them for the way you WANT them to be or NEED them to be. At the beginning of a new relationship, “Lust Makes you Blind”.

Behaviors that are not normal are something you can overlook, or not even see. But as time goes on, these behaviors become to be seen for what they are – annoying, to say the least.

Symptoms of Love

Connection with others

You want to show off your partner to all your friends and family, everyone in your life – you’re so proud of them. You want to introduce them to your interests and make them a part of them.

“We Language”, Not “I Language”.

Lives become intertwined as a couple and you begin to refer to “us” and “we” in your thoughts and conversations. Your lives begin to overlap, and blend together, they become “mutual” and take on the sense of a single life.

Examples :Lust says  “I went out to dinner and she came with me. Love says “We went out to dinner”

Self Disclosure

In love, we begin to tell each other about our life, and our secret life. We talk about our dreams, our goals, our thought life. Sometimes we start talking about our secrets.

Disclosure happens in layers, like the proverbial “Onion” these layers are:

  • superficial things – hobbies, movies, cars
  • intimate things
  • personal things
  • our core  things of who we are

When you’re in Lust, you only tell this person about the superficial things, maybe some intimate things. As the relationship grows to maturity, you reveal the layers all the way to the core.

You influence each other

Your lives influence each other in a way that make you want to share. For example a good thing happens at work, you can’t wait to go home and share it with the other. Or if a bad thing happens, you seek comfort from your spouse. If you consider a job change, you seek council from your spouse, and discuss how it may affect the family as a whole.

Re-igniting the Lust

We’ve already stated that Lust finally fades in relationships, hopefully turning into love. THe question now becomes, can the Lust component be re-ignited in a mature, loving relationship. The answer is YES! Here’s how:

Do new and novel activities

Newness -adds to the excitement  of your life, and was an important part of the initial “Lust”. That was an improtant component of the initial time of Lust, so you need to try new activities.
Mystery and Surprise Try to incorporate the elements of mystery and surprise in your conversation, activitities, and time together. Presents, lingerie, maybe even a visit to your work place.

Arousal Producing Activities

It’s been shown by relationship scientists that the arousal and pleasure associated with an activity is transferred to your partner, to become a shared pleasure. Exercise together, amusement park rides, and any number of activities that involve gentle contact.

Ballroom Dancing

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t point out the option of Ballroom Dancing. It is one of the best activities that include great music, conversation, close touch, and so many other elements of what goes into a good relationship and marriage. And for the competitive ones (Guys…listen up!), it involves a skill level you p


Lust and love are different. While Lust is fun and wonderful,  Love is the stuff that holds together long term relationships. Lust can  get the process started, and when done right it can grow into love. The really nice thing is that love and lust do not have to be mutually exclusive in your relationship.