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Is It Love Or Lust?

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Untitled Expressionist Abstract Painting by Anita Saran

“There are instances in which one falls in love with someone because of her sexual performance, but much more often – and much more dependable – two lovers are good in bed because they love one another. Sex is, above all, a medium of expression, and when love is what it has to express, its performance could hardly be bad.” –Robert C. Solomon

Sex Encourages Intimacy

How do you know whether you’re in lust with someone or in love with someone? It’s difficult to say the least, since there is such a thin line between love and lust.

Love is not sexual desire, but it is diminished without it. It is a merging of selves and this is what is sought in love. Love makes sex last. In sex as in nothing else, we are completely naked, vulnerable and open to the other. We are aware of our deepest fears and inadequacies. It’s not surprising that we share our deepest darkest secrets just after sex. It is an expression not only of our sexual desire, but also of our tenderness, admiration, respect, gratitude, trust, possessing and being possessed.

Love is "Bigger than the Both of Us."

For that great pessimistic philosopher Schopenhauer, sex is much more than mere sensuous desire. Whether it is a one-night stand or the expression of a lifelong love, it is “bigger than both of us”. It is the will to life manifesting itself through two people.

Love is Shared Identity

According to the speech by the playwright Aristophanes in Plato’s great dialogue the ‘Symposium’ he suggests that love is a shared identity, a desperate lifelong attempt by each of us to find “one’s other half”. Let it not be understood that just any sexual attraction, attachment or fondness is love.

Love is Caring and Concern

On the other hand, love is caring and concern for the other. While a ‘relationship” says Solomon is the more or less stable union of two separate entities, love is an explosive fusion. It is not ‘crazy’, leading to foolish or irresponsible behaviour, or an excuse to disrupt marriages or careers. Love is a particular set of insights arrived at through passion and focused with affection.

Love Often Begins with Lust

So how do you know whether you're in love or lust?

Says Raju, 26: "Love is selfless and lust is selfish. Lust is a part of love and you can expect lust when you love someone. However, intense and real love happens only once in your lifetime, and it need not be your first love. I am still in that love – I have great memories of it although she is so far away. She is very near my heart."

According to Rana: "Love is different from lust. Lust is purely sexual but it is a part of love. Lust is a physical need. Love is a mental need. In lust you are interested only in the sex, and not about how the other person feels. Love without lust though is possible. I had this sort of relationship for seven years and it began when I was 16. I never touched her, yet I loved her. But she, I found out in the end, wanted to be touched and was cheating on me all the time."

A computer professional, 24 year old Nitin says: "There is such a thin line between lust and love. Probably it’d first be lust and then love will follow. Or it may be only platonic in the first moment. After that a volcano will erupt.

On the other hand, only when I love deeply and truly can I lust for someone. It may take a long time for lust to reveal itself. And when it does, I’ll take her on a long ride to ecstasy.

In love you give yourself truly and completely; in lust you tend to take advantage of the other and not have any concern for her. In love I’ll try to make her feel comfortable with me. In lust I’ll seduce her so she will yield to my lust. Therefore I’ll be manipulating her, disintegrating her in a way till she submits. She might believe it is love when it is only lust.

With lust I’ll check whether she can match my passion. In lust there should be no fragility. But in love I’ll handle her with care and make sure it is pleasurable for her.

There can be love without lust and vice versa. I can be in love with her and not have sex for a long time."

We’ve come a long way from the time when sexual intercourse was the consummation of love. Today it seems to be the right of every man and woman and love often begins with lust.

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