Love vs Lust- 4 Ways to Spot the Difference

The world will offer you many different ideas as to what love is.  You can fall in love, and you can fall out of it.  And society’s definition of love will change according to which culture and generation you live.  But there is another way to determine true love.

And it’s important in any relationship to know if you what you have is based on real love or merely on lust, which passes once it consumes.  Here’s 4 sure-fire ways to know the difference between the two:

1. Love gives.  Lust takes.

Real love seeks the highest good of another person. Click To Tweet

Love is always looking to serve.  Lust is looking to ultimately serve only itself.  When love sees the object of its adoration, it wants to bless, to give gifts, to show kindness.  No strings attached.  

Lust sees the object of its desire, and wants to have it for itself.  At first, it may appear to be like love in the sense
that it also will give gifts and be kind, but if lust’s kindness is not returned with its own desires being met, it will withdraw and reject or seek to control (see #4).

Basically, lust uses kindness as blackmail.

2. Love desires the whole.  Lust is overly focused on only one part.

Love accepts the whole package.  Love realizes that no body, no soul, no person is perfect and is willing to accept the good with the bad.  Love is willing to be hurt by the one it loves because, well, because of love.  Because love is not all about self (see definition in point #1!).  Love is seeking the highest good of another, so it will endure pain.  (And sometimes “pain” means being willing to listen to conversations that it deems boring or uninteresting because the other person wants to share!)

Lust will not stand for this.  Lust only wants one part- whether it be the physical body or the warm, fuzzy feelings, it does not want the rest of the package.  Lust exalts one part of a person above all his or her other parts.

A person can lust after another’s body.  A person can also lust after another’s attention or comfort.  In both cases, one’s own self is the focus, not the well-being of the other person involved.

Lust and attraction are the fruit of 2 different trees.

3. Love is patient.  Lust is in a rush.

Love is willing to wait.  It’s in it for the long haul.  Not ready to commit?  Love will wait.  Not ready to get physical?  Love will wait.  Not ready to open up yet?  Love will wait.  (I would also like to note that no mere human loves perfectly ALL of the time, but this is the way that the person with whom we seek to attach ourselves should act MOST of the time.)

Lust wants it now.  There is no waiting.  Waiting makes him angry.  Waiting makes him look to other people to satisfy his selfish desire.  The opposite of love, putting self above another.

4. Love gives freedom.  Lust seeks to control

Love gives the other person choice to say yes or no.  Lust manipulates to get a yes.  Lust uses anger to control.  Lust uses fear and threatens to leave if it does not get what it wants.  Lust uses self-pity to draw out its desired response.

We must not let ourselves be bullied by lust.  If we want to be committed to someone who loves us for a lifetime, then we must look for love in the early stages of the relationship.Lust and attraction are the fruit of 2 different trees. #love Click To Tweet

Attraction is a natural, neutral draw to another person.  We can be attracted to art, to music, to our friends, to people of the opposite sex, etc .  Lust is a choice to use the gift of attraction for selfish means.  Lust wants to turn take that which is attractive and use it for its own gratification.  We should be attracted to the person with whom we are in a relationship, but we if we give into lust, it will ruin us.

This is my favorite definition of love.  A timeless definition that has stood the test of culture and time.  It comes from the Bible:

Love is patient, love is kind.  

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. 

It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  

Love never fails.

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  • Susan Shipe August 26, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Lust is in a rush… Yes, it always is. Neighbor at Crystal’s today!

  • Kathleen August 31, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Thank you for your excellent post! Oh that countless young people would read it. I appreciate this definition of love from J. Budziszewski’s book HOW TO STAY CHRISTIAN IN COLLEGE: “Love is a commitment of the will to the true good of another person.”

    • Brooke Grangard August 31, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Thank-you, Kathleen. And that’s a great definition!

  • Becky Hastings August 31, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Such clear, spot-on comparisons of love vs. lust. It is great to see writers tackling hard topics for the glory of God, that we may live fully in all the love He has for us. Thank you for sharing!


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