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Am I in love or in lust? 

Claire Quist, AMFT

Ever wondered if it’s love or just lust? At Symmetry Counseling, we delve into the complexities of these emotions to help you discover the difference, understand your desires, and effectively navigate your relationships. Ready to explore your feelings? Contact us today, and let’s journey through the intricacies of love and lust together.

What is Lust?

I am willing to bet that we have all had those moments. You are grabbing a morning coffee on your way to work, and in line, you spot someone who piques your interest. Perhaps you create a little story in your head detailing their job and hobbies. Maybe you wonder if they’re single and imagine what it would be like to go out on a date with them. Whether you are spotting someone in a cafe, passing a stranger on the street, or watching your comfort show starring your celebrity crush, these imaginative responses can be categorized as feelings of lust. You may not know enough about someone to love them, but something about their presence makes you love the idea of them. In these cases, it may be simple to define love from lust. After all, how could you actually love the stranger you just glanced at on the train if you have never met them and know nothing about them? Do you believe in love at first sight?

The Complications of Familiarity

Of course, it can’t always be this simple. When you are daydreaming about your classmate, coworker, or long-lost crush, things tend to complicate a little. This is someone you do know, more so than that passerby on the train, and maybe you can imagine a realistic future with them. Regardless of how well you know someone at this point, the simple, consistent presence of them in your life, your gravitational pull towards them, and your interest to learn more about them all may conjure up feelings of lust mixed in with or disguised as love. 

Unraveling the Mix of Love and Lust

The further you get involved, the more conflated the two may become. But at what point do we determine if we love the person themselves or lust for the person we want them to be? Maybe we bask in their attention or lust for their physical attraction but don’t particularly love them for who they are. Love in itself, before adding in lust, is already overly complex. There is no guidebook, no particular right or wrong. And while both feelings of love and feelings of lust are equally real and valid, they don’t always stem from the same place or lead to the same outcomes. 

Understanding Your Desires in Relationships

What really matters in interpreting our feelings is understanding our own desires and what we are seeking in this partner. Are we drawn to someone because of their status, their looks, their compelling sense of adventure? Or are we seeking comfort, doting attention, support, and empathy through good times and bad? Sometimes, one person can embody all of these traits and more, but more often than not, it seems we are picking and choosing. 

Exploring Relationships Through the Lens of Everyday Shoes

Imagine standing in a store deciding between the trendy, sparkly, top-of-the-line new shoe and the everyday basic but reliable, still cute, and very comfy go-to shoe. One is less practical, flashy, and fun, and it catches everyone’s attention. It doesn’t matter if it’s comfortable, reliable, or only matches one outfit in your entire closet because when you wear it, you will get a million compliments, and it can bring you immediate joy. The everyday shoe is nowhere near as cool or alluring, but it’s still cute and stylish, and you may wear it almost every day until it disintegrates. That shoe will support you and may always be your go-to, particularly when you don’t feel like shoving your feet into the less comfy but flashier alternatives. Which one is love, and which one is lust? Are you drawn to the idea, compelled by the potential, or imagining the response others might have? Or do you value the option that is consistent, always there, and although at times underwhelming, always provides you with the best support, even if it is unnoticed? Both shoes may be great in their own way, but they serve different purposes. So it all depends on what you are shopping for.   

At Symmetry Counseling, we recognize that the interplay between love and lust can be intricate. Our expert therapists are here to help you understand and better navigate your emotions and foster healthier relationships. Schedule an appointment with us today.

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