The French call it “coup de foudre”, like a lightning that strikes you and you become immediately and totally attracted to someone. We often read about love at first sight in tacky novels, where boy meets girl, sparks fly, attraction is intense, but denied, until finally they realize they are madly in love with each other, end of story. Frankly, I’ve always thought those stories were too implausible, for how can you fall in love with a person you know nothing about? What you experience upon the first contact is nothing but sexual attraction, pure and simple.
According to experts, sexual attraction is nature’s way of telling us it’s time to perpetuate the species, and to do so with as many different partners as possible, so as to expand the genetic pool. We are sexually attracted to people our primitive brain believes may positively contribute to upgrading our genetic possibilities, and that is why the characteristics people find sexually attractive are mostly universal: men with broad shoulders and lean waists, a clear sign of athleticism and strength, and women with rounded hips and generous breasts, a clear sign of fertility.
Love Infatuation vs. Sexual Lust
We see someone we’re attracted to, and immediately say we’re in love. This is clearly a gross exaggeration. Intense sexual attraction may erase common sense and actually believe you are in love, but in fact, it’s just that, pure, unadulterated lust. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, psychiatrist, “lust is an altered state of consciousness programmed by the primal urge to procreate”. Dr. Orloff goes on by saying that in these circumstances our brain reacts as if it was on drugs, as intense sexual attraction triggers the same areas of the brain as addiction, those connected with reward and motivation. Love, however, triggers different regions of the brain, namely those associated with empathy and caring.
On the other hand, there’s the question of appearances vs. reality. This intense sexual attraction is primarily superficial, as it focuses on looks and appearance, rather than the true nature of the other person. Dr. Orloff refers that lust is driven by the idealization of the other, based solely on appearance, rather than their true self, and the image you project of the other: “what you hope someone will be or need them to be”.
Love digs deeper, does not rely on looks alone, and allows you to see and accept the other as they are, flaws and all. You like the way your partner looks, but you love what he/she is, so appearances become secondary, as it is the essence of that person you truly care about: their kindness, their honesty, their selflessness, their strength, their acceptance of you.
Lust is still a part of love, though. You want to be intimate with the person you love, you feel intense sexual attraction for them, and that’s fantastic. You’ll be spending your whole life with that person, and a rewarding sex life goes a long way to ensure happiness ever after. But pure and simple lust is nothing but the physical attraction you feel for someone, or for your fantasy of who that someone is and often cools down to indifference or even disgust as the real persons, the one with flaws and a past, reveal themselves. To better tell love and lust apart, here are the signs you should look for.
Signs of Love Attraction
1. You feel like you can talk about anything with that person and you want to
When there’s love, you feel the need to get to know each other, your inner thoughts, your ambitions, your quirkinesses. Conversations can last for hours and you feel good about that. You become friends with that person.
2. You lose track of time when you are together
Whether talking, or just holding hands, you enjoy each other’s company and often feel time just flew by without you noticing.
3. You want to spend time with that person doing stuff other than sex
Sex is good, but going out together, sharing a meal, going for walks, or the movies, is quality time you really want to spend together. Pursuing common interests, such as biking, surfing or paragliding, goes a long way to strengthen your relationship.
4. You want to make that person happy
When you are in love with the other person's happiness, in and out of the bedroom, is paramount to you. You want to see their face lit up with the joy you bring, you’ll bend backwards to grant them their wishes and provide them the happiness you feel they deserve.
5. You listen closely to what that person says
You listen actively to what they have to say, as you realize that what they are saying impacts you and your future. You listen as they complain about their day, and how horrible it was at work that day, and you also listen to their animated talk about their hopes and dreams for the future. Being supportive and asking the right questions establishes trust in the relationship and promotes well-being as a couple.
6. You want to meet his/her family and friend
You want to meet the people this person loves, and become a part of their inner circle of trust because you know how important family and friends are to the one you love.
7. You want to be a better person because of that person
You feel like he/she is the best person in the whole world, and you want to be worthy of that person’s love, so you want to become a better person yourself. This does not mean you need to change who you are, but simply become better at who you are.
Signs of Lust Attraction
1. Talking is not important, you just want to have sex
When there’s only lust, you don’t really feel the need to talk about yourself or listen to what the other person has to say, as you are focused primarily on having sex. You might flirt, and talk about little nothings, if there’s the possibility of sex, otherwise, you’ll just look for a more interested third party.
2. You care about how they look rather than who they are
You want that person to be hot, sexually arousing and available. You don’t want to know their dreams, ideals, ambitions, you focus solely on their looks. Consider apps like Tinder, where you get pictures of people who are close to you and interested in meeting up. Your swiping right or left relies basically on physical attractiveness and availability.
3. You don’t need to know that person, the idea of who they are is enough for you
You don’t really care who they are, as who they are, in your head, is enough for you. You don’t even want to get to know them, because it might shatter the fantasy you created around this person. They are hot and willing, and they might endanger their hotness and your willingness if suddenly they start showing you their flaws.
4. You don’t really share common interests, other than sex
You don’t really connect on a real level, considering you find his fascination with his and any sports car ridiculous, and he thinks your obsession with all things fashion ludicrous. You still have great sex, but cannot share common interests outside of the bedroom.
5. Cuddling or staying the night feels awkward
“Sex was great, thanks, but I have to go now.” If this is the line in your head right after finishing with the hot and sweaty, it’s definitely lust. Despite all the after-sex oxytocin, you don’t feel like hugging, spooning, and sharing sweet nothings. You got what you were looking for, you are feeling sated and now you just want to leave, or make the other person leave.
Love vs. Lust Quotes
If what you are feeling is love, you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops and let everyone knows the depth of your affection. Here are some quotes you might want to share with the one you love:
"I wish I could explain your eyes, and how the sound of your voice gives me butterflies. How your smile makes my heart skip a beat and how every time I’m with you, I feel so complete".
"7 billion smiles and you’re is my favorite."
"I choose you. And I’ll choose you, over and over and over. Without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat. I’ll keep choosing you."
If what you feel is lust, here are some quotes you might want to text your sex partner, to let him/her know you are in the mood:
" I can't stop thinking about you. You're at home in your bed and I am alone in my bed. One of us is in the wrong place."
"The most productive thing I've done today is dreaming about you naked."
" You are so hot that you should have been born with a warning label."
Sexual attraction, with all the chemicals and hormones it releases, can really muddle your thoughts, so we hope to have been of service in terms of clarifying the difference between love and lust. Consider that lust may lead to love if both of you are willing to get to know one another and find a true connection. And romantic love without lust, I’d say it’s doomed to failure. If you manage to tick both boxes, he/she is a keeper.