When you’re dating, you’ll be looking for a man with whom you have good “chemistry” or strong “attraction” and those are great things to have – but can there be too much?
Is it possible to have an intense physical attraction with someone, only to discover that there really wasn’t true love there at all?
Well, the short answer is yes – you can be in a very passionate relationship that simply fizzles out, but why does that happen?
Lust, Attraction & Male-Female Attachment
For us to fully understand the differences between lust and love, we have to take it all the way back to the caveman days!
Helen Fisher, a doctorate researcher on love, wrote about the three different brain systems of lust. She said there are three brain systems: Lust, Attraction and Male-Female attachment.
These three systems are kind of like “filters” for who our brain will choose to mate with. Let’s take a look at the three filters.
1. The “Lust” Brain System
The first brain system is called “lust” and it is the brain system that allows us to mate with “any appropriate partner.” This is hilarious because it means that there isn’t really any filter there at all!
It basically means if there’s a man who’s within your age range and looks “hot” to you then he’s good to go! Your brain will say, yup, this guy will do and it will start to produce all the “feel-good” hormones that allow you to get sexually aroused.
Now, men tend to give the “lust” brain filter a lot more power than women. That’s why men are known to have sex with any woman that is “acceptable”.
Men do this because they (biologically) don’t have to face the consequences of childbirth with the wrong person. So they can afford to be a little less picky about who they choose to mate with.
Women on the other hand, usually need a little more than “he’s hot” to have sex with a man, so that’s where the next filter or “brain system” comes in.
2. The “Attraction” Brain System
The “attraction” filter is the one most women get excited about. This is the one that filters for the preference of specific mating partners.
This means that a man has to be a little more than just the right age and “hot”, he actually has to have some kind of charisma or element about him that makes you feel attracted to him.
So men in this category are going to be physically attractive, but also funny, good at keeping up conversation, and just generally good at making you feel all the butterflies. Whether he’s a bad boy, mysterious, or clean-cut, something about this guy has you really going nuts!
When a woman has checked off both the “lust” and the “attraction” filters, her brain is going to start going crazy!
She’s going to feel very sexually aroused and if she starts having sex with him, the feeling of connection is going to get even more intense.
This is the stage most women are in when they are feeling “Lust” or “Passion”. They’ve started having sex with a man who checked off the first two brain systems, and now their brains are releasing “oxytocin” which is a hormone that will make you feel connected to a man, even if you’re not in love.
How Does It Feel To Be In Lust?
Women who have checked off the first two brain systems and are having sex, are going to feel very in “lust”. This means they are going to be very sexually aroused and feel a strong connection to the man after they have sex.
A key difference between being in “lust” vs in “love” is if you have strong emotional connections only after you’ve had sex. Real love and connection happen all the time, not just after physical intimacy.
So now, let’s move on to the final “brain system” or filter…
3. “Female-Male Attachment” Brain System
The final brain system is how we can define “love” or a “true connection”. This is when a couple has a deeper connection that actually allows them to “cooperate with a reproductive mate until species-specific parental duties have been completed.” Helen Fisher
This means you actually get along well enough with your partner that your relationship can handle taking care of children until they have grown enough to be on their own.
That’s what true connection or “love” really is!
It means that you and your partner get along so well that you simply want to stick together. This means you can have differences, flaws, disagreements, or even full-blown fights – but at the end of the day, you still choose each other.
Awww… now isn’t that romantic?!
Lust Is Body, Love Is Mind
Now that you understand the brain systems, we can look into how to spot the differences between lust and love when you’re just in a new relationship.
Remember that lust is the body, and love is the mind. “Lust” is an intense physical connection and “love” is an intense emotional connection.
Lust being in the body means both his body and yours.
You think he’s attractive or he has a nice smile means you’re looking at his body. Him making you feel the butterflies in your stomach or sexually aroused is in your body. Both of these are feelings of lust.
Lust is a very physical feeling. You feel attracted to him, you feel turned on.
Love is a much more intellectual experience. It is much more in your head than in your body. Love is him listening to you, caring about you, supporting you, doing things for you.
It’s also when the two of you have common ground emotionally. Whether it’s the same sense of humour or the same lifestyle.
Learn More: I’m Not Attracted to my Boyfriend – Now What?
Lust is Fast, Love is Slow
Because lust is rooted in the physical, it can be felt instantly. You can instantly see a man and think he’s attractive.
Timing plays an important role in whether you’re experiencing lust or love. Love cannot be experienced instantly, love takes time to develop and even stronger love takes shared experiences.
If you have been dating your partner for less than six months, you’re likely still lusting over him.
Lust Is You, Love Is Them
Lust is about the feeling he gives you. You’re the one that gets the butterflies in your stomach. You’re the one up all night thinking about him or waiting for him to text.
All of these feelings are rooted in how you feel about him.
Love is about the other person.
It is when you care so deeply for him that you decide to put his needs above yours. You’re willing to make sacrifices in your life in order to make him happy or meet in the middle.
You want what is best for him. You want to make him happy.
Lust Decreases, and Love Increases
It is normal for lust to decrease over time, in fact, it will happen to every single relationship. There’s nothing wrong with losing that “head over heels” or “butterflies” feeling, as long as it’s replaced with love.
Love should not decrease over time, it should increase. If you start feeling less and less impressed by him or he makes you feel worse than he did at the beginning, this is a sign of lust fading away and not being replaced by meaningful love.
This is the time to know if you’re in a relationship that is not going to last. Love gets strong and strong as each day goes by. A couple who is truly in love and knows how to properly communicate will use every moment of their lives to increase their bond, including fighting.
Lust Is Fun, Love Is Boring
A really easy way to split the difference between love vs. lust is to remember the following line: lust means you love what’s good about them, love means you love what’s bad about them.
Lust is all about him being good-looking, romantic, caring, sexy, good in bed, funny, witty etc.
Love is when you want to be with him even though he has a temper, is messy, has rowdy friends, talks too much, is stubborn etc.
Lust is also a lot more “fun”. Lust is like being on a vacation, it’s different, it’s new and exciting. It gives your brain a serious dopamine hit.
Love is your regular life, less like a vacation and more like a job. Your job is something you’ll do every single day of your life and if you like your job, you’ll enjoy doing it. Your job is reliable and sustainable, even though it’s not as fun as being on vacation.
Do You Need Lust To Have A Long-Term Relationship?
In short, yes.
As a dating coach, my clients often ask me about the importance of physical attraction (or lust) in a relationship and how it plays into having a long-term relationship.
In my experience as a matchmaker and professional dating coach, I say that all healthy relationships need to start off with some lust.
If your partner doesn’t excite you in the beginning, something is wrong.
You should feel attracted to them and you should want to have a physical relationship with them – in fact this is a key component to developing love in the first place.
A study analyzing the difference between lust vs. love discovered that love develops as a result of continuously having your desires met:
“Love is actually a habit that is formed from sexual desire as desire is rewarded. It works the same way in the brain as when people become addicted to drugs.”
Psychology Today points out another study saying that the combination of both needing to be with someone, and sexual desire of that person, lead to feelings of euphoria, which is why we have “love”
Because the areas of the brain activated by both love and sexual desire are associated with the experience of reward, researchers also believe that both love and sexual desire may be better characterized as strong motivations rather than emotions, per se, stating that the strong motivation to be with a partner (love) or the strong motivation to have sex with a partner (desire) can ultimately lead to feelings of euphoria (Aron et al., 2005).
All of this is to say that if you don’t have sexual desire for someone, it is unlikely that you will develop feelings of true love with them. Love really is the result of the mind and body becoming one.
When Lust Fades Away
As mentioned earlier, when the lust fades away, you should be left with “love”. Love should develop and get stronger over time, love does not decrease.
So if you find yourself in a situation where you were head over heels for someone, and as the months go by, you find yourself less and less impressed by them – you were likely in a “lust only
This is the kind of relationship where you have hot passionate sex, but nothing to talk about.
This kind of relationship will be detrimental to your mental health and if you’re in a relationship like this, it will not last – or if it does, you will not be happy.
That may sound blunt, by as a dating coach, it’s my job to get real with people.
The dating world might be tiring, but living day in and day out with a partner you hate for the rest of your life is much, much worse.
Learn More: 15 Signs He Wants A Relationship And Not A Fling
How To Ensure You Find A Long-Lasting Relationship
If you want to make sure you’re playing it safe, take things slow.
Have sex after five dates, go for drinks and hang out every day – that’s all fine.
But don’t move in together before it’s been a year.
Don’t get married or have children before it’s been two years.
The reason women get stuck in relationships with men that are not a good fit is that they go all in and make too many commitments before they really know who that person is.
Take things slow.
Learn More: Need Vs. Wants In Relationships
How To Attract A Man That Is High Quality
I hope you found this article helpful but it does you know good if you’re not attracting High-Quality Men.
Find out what High-Quality men look for in a woman, check out my Free Guide “How To Attract Higher-Quality Men”. It’s free!