Is It Love Or Lust?

A client once explained to me how she had fallen deeply in love with this guy.

“Nice” I replied. “And how long have you been going out together?”

“One week” she replied.

Not sure that I would call that “love”.

I’m sure there was a part of him she did love. Hmm.

If she wasn’t in love, what was the state she was in?

Three terms are often used to describe a variety of emotions and states of being that pertain to romantic relationships – “love,” “lust,” and “infatuation”. These terms are not synonymous. Each term implies a different depth, duration, and nature of emotional involvement. Let’s examine each:



Lust is primarily driven by physical attraction and sexual desire. Emotional attachment or long-term consideration is typically minimal or absent.

Duration: Short-term to medium-term, often fading once physical needs are met.

Focus: Physical satisfaction; often one-sided or imbalanced.

Physical Attraction: Physical attraction is the primary motivator.

Changing States: Lust can transition into love or infatuation if other elements like emotional attachment and mutual interests develop, but it often dissipates if it remains solely physical.



Infatuation is often characterized by intense emotional investment and preoccupation with a person, usually at the beginning of the relationship. It’s often described as “being in love with the idea of someone” rather than truly knowing them.

Duration: Typically short-term, however the duration can vary.

Focus: Idealization of the other person; often accompanied by obsessive thoughts, emotional highs and lows, and unrealistic expectations.

Physical Attraction: May or may not be present. The attraction is often based more on superficial traits or the idea of the person rather than who they genuinely are.

Changing States: Infatuation can mature into love if it progresses to a deeper emotional connection and mutual respect. However, it may also fade away once the reality of the person’s flaws or the mundanity of everyday life becomes apparent.



Love is often characterized by deep emotional attachment, mutual respect, trust, and a strong sense of commitment. It is more enduring and stable than lust or infatuation and typically develops over a longer period of time.

Duration: Long-term

Focus: Emotional and psychological well-being of both yourself and your partner; shared experiences; mutual growth.

Physical Attraction: While physical attraction may be a component, it is often balanced by emotional intimacy and intellectual connection.

Changing States: Love can change and evolve, often deepening over time, and can exist in various forms (platonic, familial, romantic).

In real-life relationships, these states are not always distinct phases but can coexist or transition from one to another. Furthermore, cultural, individual, and even hormonal factors can influence how these states manifest and are experienced.

Trust this helps to explain the difference.

You’ve got this.