Is It Love Or Lust?
Love is one of the best emotions that man can feel. Who does not want to be loved? We all want to love someone and be loved in return. Love can be between any two persons, be it parents-kids, siblings, friends, spouses and so on. However, here we focus on the love between opposite sexes.
Love between opposite sexes can start very early, most often during teenage years. However, there are certain other emotions such as crush or lust, which may appear similar to love, but is not love. So, is there a way by which our brain differentiates between ‘love’ and ‘lust’?
It is important to distinguish love from lust, as love often lasts long, usually leading to marriage. On the other hand, lust is merely a desire for physical intimacy and a relationship based on lust lasts a short while, resulting in a higher chance of a breakup.
A couple ‘in love’ would want to spend a lot of time together. A similar desire is seen with lust. However, those in love would be happy, even if physical intimacy is not possible when they are together On the other hand, in lust-based relationships, lack of physical intimacy leads to frustration.
Couples in love enjoy doing various things together, such as talking, sharing details about their daily lives and likes and dislikes; eating out, watching movies together, or just being with each other. However, couples with lust for each other are desperate for physical intimacy the moment they meet. Other activities are either boring or not enjoyable for them.
A person with ‘lust’ longs for physical acts such as kissing, hugging, or having sex with their partner. It is not that couples in love do not long for physical intimacy, but physical intimacy is not the only thing in their relationship. If the relationship is based on love, it can be sustained for long, even if there is no physical intimacy because there are feelings of caring and responsibility in relationships based on love.
However, a relationship based on lust cannot last long without physical intimacy. Also, in lust, the focus is more on physical attributes of a person, rather than their feelings and emotions. In lust, one can stare at the other person’s body for long, just admiring each and every part. There is an intense desire to be seen with the physically attractive person in lust. However, in love, the connection is with inner beauty and feelings/emotions. Therefore, a perfect figure is not a prerequisite to fall in love.
Love is based on mutual respect and faithfulness for each other. When in love, a person is unlikely to cheat on their partner However, in lust, it is easy to cheat and have sex with another person with more desirable physical attributes.
Real love is unconditional and a person does not love the other person to get something in return. Love is more about satisfying the other person. In love, satisfaction comes in seeing the other person happy. However, in lust, there is sexual gratification and feelings/emotions are secondary. Pleasure for self is more important in lust.
The emotion of love takes time to develop and cannot happen in a day. Although we commonly use the phrase ‘love at first sight,’ it is most often ‘lust on first sight. However, we should accept that in a minority of cases, lust could evolve into love, once the couple gets to know each other more closely.
The Brain Connection
Feelings of both, love and lust are housed in the brain and not in the heart, There are specific parts of the brain that are involved in evoking emotions of love and lust and chemical s mediating these emotions are called neurotransmitters. Love activates the dorsal striatum of the brain. a region shown to translate motivation to action, especially in the formation of behaviours aimed at getting rewards, including drug or alcohol addiction rewards.
On the other hand, lust triggers only the ventral striatum of the brain. So, watching an attractive woman at a bar activates a different part of the brain similar to an alcoholic, craving a drink. However, when lust evolves into love, more and more of the dorsal striatum of the brain starts to get activated. So, for a good-looking couple in love with each other, both the ventral and dorsal striatum of the brain continues to get activated, as long as they remain in love.
Lust is a desire for physical intimacy and sex, whereas love is more about caring, responsibility and sacrifice
Also, there are different brain chemicals involved in feelings of lust and love. Lust is driven by testosterone and estrogen. High dopamine and norepinephrine levels drive passionate love. Norepinephrine leads to high levels of adrenaline, which explains the rapid heartbeat, sweating and heavy breathing seen during passionate love.
Long-term relationships are driven by hormones oxytocin and vasopressin. It is also interesting to note that high levels of oxytocin and vasopressin may interfere with dopamine and norepinephrine. This may explain why attachment grows as passionate love fades.
To conclude, lust is a desire for physical intimacy and sex, whereas love is more about caring, responsibility and sacrifice, Lust is temporary, whereas love lasts long, even a lifetime. Lust may evolve into love, but as love increases, lust may decrease!.