When you experience strong feelings for someone, you might be in lust, not in love. It can be hard to tell the difference, especially if you’ve been seeing your partner for a while. Love and lust often get used synonymously but have very different meanings.
The differences come down to desire or deep affection, with the latter necessary for love. You might wonder whether you love someone or question your partner’s feelings. Either way, knowing what to look for can make a difference in finding the truth.
Recognizing the signs can help you identify when you or your partner are not in love. Or it could help you determine that your feelings are true and that it goes beyond physical attraction.
What is Lust?
Lust is passionate and makes you feel you can’t get enough of your partner. You’ll experience intense physical attraction and longing, and it won’t always go beyond that. It dominates your thoughts and can cause you to do things you typically wouldn’t do to satisfy your desire.
These feelings get triggered by the hypothalamus in your brain, which is the area responsible for sex hormones. Your brain gets flooded with feel-good chemicals during sex that leads to craving more, making you feel like you want to spend time with the other person.
Lust occurs in loving relationships, but experiencing the feeling without caring deeply about your partner indicates you’re not in love. If your relationship focuses on physical intimacy, it shows that you’re not in love.
Ten Signs You’re Not in Love
Some aspects of your relationship can help you determine when you’re in lust instead of love. It can help you recognize the basis of your relationship and address where it’s heading.
1 – It Happens Suddenly
Love takes time to form, so intense affection early on likely isn’t it. It requires caring deeply about someone and can last long-term. Falling in love doesn’t happen suddenly, although you might see the potential for it in the early days of your relationship.
Lust can also turn into love, so you must decide if you enjoy your time with this person and want to continue the relationship. Enjoy these feelings, and remember that they can deepen as you get to know each other better.
2 – You Don’t See Their Flaws or Imperfections if You’re Not in Love
When you only care about the physical aspect of your relationship, it’s easy to ignore your partner’s flaws. You’ll highlight the good things about them while avoiding everything else. Recognizing and accepting your partner’s imperfections is one of the first steps to falling in love.
3 – You Don’t Try to Initiate Plans
When you don’t prioritize someone, you won’t try to make plans with them. It shows that you’re not contributing to the relationship and have little interest in spending time together. Likewise, if your partner never texts or calls you to make plans, it shows that they’re likely not in love.
4 – You’re Secretive or Keep Things to Yourself
When you or your partner don’t take the time to get to know one another, it’s a sign of lust. Being in love will make you want to share things about yourself because it helps you build a lasting connection.
Hiding things, pretending to be different, or trying not to let them discover something about you are all signs that you’re not in love yet. Love can’t happen unless you know one another and develop an appreciation for who both of you are.
5 – You Feel Obsessed When You’re Not in Love
Lust leaves you feeling like you can’t get enough of the physical aspect of your relationship. You’ll fantasize about it rather than daydream of other non-sexual scenarios with your partner. Another sign of obsession is looking for ways to see your partner even when it interferes with other aspects of your life.
6 – You Don’t Know Them Very Well
Consider what you know about your partner and their life. You should know more than the surface of their passions, including why they feel so deeply about them. If you don’t know anything more, it’s a sign that you’re in lust, not in love.
Likewise, you can recognize that you don’t know someone well when you don’t feel comfortable being yourself. If you still feel like you must impress your partner and show only the best parts of yourself, it’s likely not love yet. When you’re in love, you’ll know your partner well enough to trust that they accept your flaws and quirks.
7 – You Don’t Enjoy Time with Them Unless It Involves Physical Intimacy
When you’re in love with someone, you’ll want to be around them no matter what you do. If you only want to be with them when you’re being intimate, it’s a sign of lust.
You might notice that you want more space than usual, signifying the newness is wearing off, and lust is all that remains. Your time should be full of laughter and fun, with you wanting to spend time together doing other things. If that’s not the case, it’s a sign that you don’t love them.
Being relieved when they can’t go to events with you is another sign that your relationship isn’t full of love. You also won’t mind when they don’t show up for important events or when they break planned dates.
8 – You Don’t Feel a Deep Connection if You’re Not in Love
If you’re not in love with your partner, you won’t feel a deep connection to someone. You also won’t be interested in forming one as the relationship remains surface-level and based on outward attraction. Once your desires get met, you don’t want anything else from the relationship.
9 – You Feel Selfish When You’re Not in Love
Loving someone requires compromising so that you’re both happy. When you’re in lust, you won’t want to do that because you’ll only care about your needs. You won’t worry about satisfying your partner or treating them like they mean more to you.
10 – You’re Okay with Not Hearing from Them for Days
If you’re in a loving relationship with your partner, you’ll want to hear from them. You don’t have to be in constant communication, but it’s natural to want to talk to one another. Communication is essential and desired when you’re in love, so not feeling that way indicates lust.
Keep in mind that someone who loves you will be in contact. Your partner won’t go days without calling or texting (unless there’s a valid reason) unless they don’t care deeply.
7 Signs That You Have Found True Love Not Lust
Now that you know the signs you’re not in love, you might wonder how you’ll recognize if you are. Experts discovered that a brain looks different when someone is in love, making it clear that lust manifests differently. While you can’t see your brain, you can recognize the following signs:
1 – You Feel Like They’re Different
If you think your partner is unique and view them differently than others in the past, it’s a good sign you’re in love. The dopamine released during this part of your relationship will urge you to remain monogamous because it improves your attention and focus.
Experts indicate that when lust-induced serotonin levels stabilize, your body produces more oxytocin. When this happens, it can lead to wanting a serious relationship with your partner.
2 – You Can Work Through Problems Together
Being in love with someone makes it possible for you to work through your problems. You’ll want to talk to your partner to overcome any issues.
3 – You Focus on the Positive Aspects
When you’re in love, you’ll know your partner has flaws but choose to focus on their positive qualities anyway. You’ll accept the negative traits, allowing you to idealize your partner.
4 – You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Partner
Studies show that being in love consumes your mind and reduces cognitive control. It can make you struggle to focus on anything but your partner. If your consuming thoughts about your partner aren’t about physical intimacy, it’s a sign of love.
5 – You Experience Mood Swings
You’ll experience a roller coaster of emotions when you fall for someone. Experts indicate that these mood swings are like those addicted to drugs experience. The research also shows that when shown a picture of their partner, specific brain regions activate, which can cause emotional instability through mood swings.
6 – You Envision or Plan a Future Together
It’s a good sign you’re in love when you think about your future and envision your partner. Likewise, planning it with them indicates that you have a deeper connection.
7 – You’re Willing to Sacrifice
Being in love makes you want to compromise and sacrifice to make your partner happy. A healthy relationship won’t involve doing things you don’t want to or are detrimental to your life. However, making choices, you’re both happy with and benefit from is part of being a partner.
Final Thoughts on Signs You’re in Lust, Not in Love
Knowing the signs that you’re not in love can help you identify where your relationship is going. It can also help you decide whether to continue being with your partner.
You might realize that you or your partner are in lust, not love, or you might learn the opposite. Whichever way it plays out, recognizing these signs can help you improve your life and relationship.