While there’s no clear, fool-proof way to decipher your feelings for someone, there are certain ways to make the distinction between love, lust and infatuation clearer for yourself.
Write down everything that you associate with the person you’re feeling strongly about. Example words on your brainstorm list could include love, butterflies, holding hands, annoying, snoring, gorgeous, etc.
- Circle each attribute with a different color such as red for lust, yellow for infatuation, and green for love.
- See which of the three feelings dominates the page. If one doesn’t stand out (as if the distribution seems pretty equal), move on to the following steps for more insight.
Read literature on the topic. Questions about love are timeless questions that have consumed mankind throughout the ages and are a major theme in many scriptures, tales from mythology, and literature. Read the story of David and Bathsheba from the Old Testament, 1st Corinthians from the New Testament, the story of Ali and Fatima, Echo and Narcissus, or Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
- Ask your friends or, if you find it easier, ask a complete and utter stranger, so that you get an honest opinion and an outsider’s point of view. Tell that person how you feel, and ask them if it sounds primarily like love, infatuation, or lust.
- Watch a movie that relates to your situation like “Cruel Intentions” (which is about lust, and wanting what you can’t have), “Down to You” (which is about love and leaving it all down to the other person), “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (which is about none of them really but it’s about making a mistake and putting it right), “The Notebook,” which tells a tale of life-long love and commitment, “The Phantom of the Opera” (which is about both lust, infatuation and, eventually, pure, true, self-sacrificing love) and definitely, “Titanic” (which is about holding on to someone forever until you die – that is love – bittersweet love), also, perhaps, “The Fly” (which is about a woman who falls in love with a man who turns into a fly and then goes insane, and yet remains deeply emotionally attached through this agonizing life change – which is love) or High Fidelity (which is about learning what love really is). Yet, understand that movies are fictions that depict idealized rather than realistic love.
- Love is usually pure and a feeling that is mildly possessive but with lots of care, too; infatuation can be detected easily, when a persons says he loves someone, but is unwilling to talk, make any eye contact, or willing to do anything at all, but stay away, remaining shy. You’ll know you are infatuated when you can’t think of ANY faults of that person. Everyone’s got faults; KNOWING his doesn’t make your love “less pure”. Lust can be known if your “love” shifts easily from one person to another, and lust is usually expressed through short physical/emotional (but mostly physical) relationships.
- Love is when you love the whole person (spirit, heart, mind and body), lust is when you only love part of them, which means that you see only part of the person as having value and that the whole person is not valuable.
- Keep in mind that in most relationships, you’re feeling all three (love, infatuation, and lust) all at once, to some degree.
- To help you make tough decisions about your relationship, ask someone you trust who has lots of experience with the kind of relationship you want for yourself. For example: say you want to be happily married to one person for life. If your parents have both been bitterly divorced three times, then they are probably not the ones to talk to. On the other hand, if they are about to celebrate their 50th anniversary of bliss together, then they may be ideal to learn from.
- Lasting relationships are those that are built on love – not infatuation or lust. Imagine the person you love in 50 years when they are old and fat. Would that change how you feel about them? If yes, then what you feel now is most likely lust/infatuation – not love.
- Friendship should also weigh into your decision to commit. In 50 years, if you don’t genuinely LIKE your mate, you’re going to be miserable.
- Remember that jealousy is not a result of love. It is more likely to be a result of infatuation, insecurity or fear of being alone. Are you in love with being in relationships?
- A major life-changing decision like moving in together, getting engaged or getting married should be a natural step if you love someone. It should not inspire fear.
- Take advantage of the post coital “moment of clarity” to examine your feelings. This is not usually the moment directly after orgasm (where most people are happy with the universe), but 5 or 10 minutes later, when your breathing and heart rate are normal. At this point, does the sex still make you feel closer to that person? Or are you beginning to feel regret and anxiety about what happened? If the latter, then it’s most definitely not love but lust.
- Give it some time. Love takes root slowly and grows with time. Infatuation grows into full bloom almost immediately.
- Keep in mind that “True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be and will not be.” (Unknown)
- Consider what comes to mind when you think about this person. If you are not dating the person, think if you are eager to spend time with them or you just want to watch them from a distance. If you are in a relationship with the person, what do you want most out of the relationship. If you just want to consummate love to the person it is usually lust. If you want to be with them, learn about them, and maybe someday have a sexual relationship, you are probably in a good mix of all three.
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- If you’re not sure about your feelings or your relationship, take things slowly, introspect. Spend time apart and see how you are feeling while you are away. Do you miss the person? Or are you more attracted to others when you are apart?
- You may also want to consider the fact that it’s not always as easy as being one of these three things; often there are a lot of grey areas, the distinctions are blurred, and it is very possible to feel two or even all of these feelings for a person. Just know that lust is not a GOOD thing when it comes to the interest of only one person in the relationship.
- Romantic love is not an “eternal truth of the universe” for all relationships. As a concept, romantic love has only been in practise for a few hundred years. Don’t assume that that it is a requirement for a happy life long relationship, or that the most effective environment for finding such love is by dating. You may never feel ‘in love’ with the person who might be the perfect mate. You might just have someone who you decided you would like to make it work with. ‘Love’ or ‘no love’, both types of relationships require work to make them last.