Lust vs. love: Recognizing the difference

Photo credit: shutterstock
Photo credit: shutterstock

“Lust is the benefit of self at the expense of others. Love is the benefit of others at the expense of self.” That quote is how my book, Everything Fades Away, begins. The two main characters are both married and love their spouses like their next breaths, but the passion is no longer there. So, they meet one Black Friday outside a Best Buy and while a riot takes places in the parking lot, they engage in “adrenaline-rush-sex” in a skywalk above. They don’t even introduce themselves until they get finished licking and sucking all over each other, banging roughly against the glass as the police show up in riot gear, and climaxing together.

Now while that scenario might seem far-fetched, trust me when I say that some people get down exactly like that. Many people assume that the days of one-night stands, “vacationships,” and hooking up for some “hot lunchtime action” are long gone. Not so! You can log onto certain websites on any given day and check out the personals and see private parts zoomed in on in photos, being offered up for free, or sometimes with a cost attached. Recently, a website geared toward cheaters was hacked and millions of married people were exposed as paid subscribers seeking affairs. Not to mention, prostitution is still alive and well — thriving even. The oldest profession will remain the oldest profession until the end of time. None of that equates to emotional attachment. It is all about physical satisfaction and, in most instances, that is clear to both parties.

However, there is a segment of society where people are actually confused about the difference between lust and love. I get emails all the time from women, in particular, that believe doing acrobatics in their bedroom with men means that it is love. They are delusional and think that if a man desires them sexually that it means love is in the air. Yes, men do lust after the women they love the majority of the time. Most men are not going to fall in love initially, and they definitely are not going to marry women they are not physically attracted to from the onset of courting. But sometimes those fires start smoldering and they seek out other women to reignite what has been lost. Doesn’t mean they will leave their wives for them. Doesn’t mean that they will start acting like lovesick puppies. It means they want some freaky sex with a freaky woman. The same goes for women who seek gratification outside of their committed relationships.

Lust is a physical desire and it is when a person uses another person to get the physical gratification they need. Love is when a person places the other person’s needs and expectations on at least the same plane as their own, if not even higher. It is when they are willing to make sacrifices to accommodate the other person, when they refrain from pushing the other person’s buttons because they do not want to upset them or cause them any pain, and it is when they think about that person the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Love is when you want to protect the other person, when you pray for them to achieve greatness and for them to remain healthy, and when you miss them when they are not around or available to spend quality time with you.

Speaking of quality time, it is not defined by a person calling you after ten o’clock at night and asking to come over to bang you out and fall asleep. Or even worse, bang you out and then leave in the middle of the night. A lot of people convince themselves that booty calls will lead to marriage. There is always that slight possibility but it is rare and generally occurs when two people start out as friends with benefits when they are young and immature and gradually build to a mature connection supported by intense feelings.

Lust is about “doing you” and keeping the situation in perspective. Love is about “doing us” and giving a hundred percent to one another. It is truly not hard to tell the difference. The issue is that many people don’t want to wake up and smell the coffee, the bagels with cream cheese, and read the writing all over the walls.

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