Love vs. Lust: Relationship Advice You Need to Know

I’m in a relationship — a romantic one. And since this is my first serious one (as in I see a future with this person), of course I’ve overanalyzed everything through the roof. What does this or that mean? Is this good or bad? Even with my type A personality, it has been a successful two-year relationship, but one of my biggest struggles was finally understanding the difference between love and lust, and this is something I feel that a lot of people struggle with.

As I was reading one of my favorite blogs, I came across one of the most genius things I think I’ve ever read — it just put everything into perspective for me. The blog post was about an interview with relationship expert Tracy McMillan, who wrote a book titled You’re The F***ing One: How Finding the Love of Your Life Depends on Being the Love of Your Life.

The article had bits and pieces from her interview, but my favorite quote from it was this: “In relationships, you get nine to 18 months of super intense emotions. [But] you have to understand, that intensity is going to die down, and that will either result in the end of a relationship or it will change into long-term attachment. Part of why my relationship history was so crazy was because I wanted that honeymoon feeling all the time. When the feeling would die down, I would start to think that there was something wrong with the relationship.”

After reading that quote, I was instantly brought back to my college psychology class. I really liked my professor as he related most of his lessons to college-aged students. When learning about romantic relationships, he told us that lust lasts no longer than a year. I had never been in a relationship at that time, and didn’t really know what that was or what it felt like. But reading McMillan’s quote totally clicked with me, and made me realize that I hadn’t fallen out of love, I had matured in it.

Flashback to about a year into my relationship. All the months leading up to our one year were totally blissful. I mean no relationship is perfect, but I knew what lust felt like. All you want to do is be all over each other and around each other *all* the time. But when our one year came around, things started to feel different. I felt different. I still loved this person, but why didn’t I feel like I needed to be around him literally 24/7? Why were we able to go out and do things like friends instead of kissing every minute? Was something wrong? Was this relationship going down the tube?

I panicked, but I didn’t act on my panic like some people do. I loved this person, and slowly as the months went by I realized that I felt totally comfortable being myself in front of this person and not having the need to show affection 24/7. We still hold hands and kiss, etc. We’re obviously still attracted to each other, but we can function as normal, independent humans around and away from each other. What I thought were fleeing feelings was actually the growth of a mature relationship, and ultimately a great friendship.

The actual definition of lust is a very strong sexual desire, and by sexual, I mean physical. The definition of love is an intense feeling of deep affection, affection meaning fondness and endearment. Don’t you want to not actually be attracted to, but also actually like, the person you want to spend your life with? How many people do you know that you just find attractive, but don’t really like their personality? That relationship will probably not last long.

I wonder if a lot of people in the Hollywood spotlight don’t stay with their partners a long time for this very reason. Maybe they love those intense feelings and lead very exciting lives, but once the relationship comes to something deeper and more friendly than those initial feelings, they decide to end things.

Ultimately, there is a difference between lust and love, and most experts and psychologists will tell you that most relationships see the transition from one to the other. Love isn’t the "worse" stage by any means. In fact, it will last longer and prove to be a stronger bond than the initial feelings of lust.

So don’t feel like your relationship is heading down the wrong path just because you’re not all over each other all the time — remember that each relationship is different, and embrace the different stages you'll go through with your partner.