Love has many definitions and many interchangeable meaning according to culture, situation and environment. When we think of love, we usually mean romantic love towards potential partner. But, love also has other meanings and aspects like we all love our parents but often this love doesn’t strike chord in our brain when we hear word “love”. Love is difficult to define. Our mother constantly thinks and puts efforts for our well-being in some or other way that is her love. The same concept is applicable for romantic love. We often say “I fell in love with her/him” but it may be just lust or attraction towards her/him. Love actually comes after commitment and communication. When we are committed despite of difficulties we put efforts for the well-being of our loved ones. We put her/his needs above ours and do not expect anything return, then that is love! When we allow our partner to grow and move on, instead of clinging to them that is love! When we set them free and still work hard for their betterment and well-being that is love!
Biologically speaking we are programmed to have some basic urges such as aggression and sex that help us protect ourselves and our species. When we are in danger we automatically get prepared to either fight or flight. Our body has inherent mechanism for it. Similarly, whenever we encounter potential mate, our body and brain starts evoking emotion, which is lust! Yes, that’s true… all those romantic feeling of “getting stuck on someone”, “dreaming of someone”, “everything feeling nice” are all part of lust! Have you wondered a lot people fall in love with “college queen” either openly or secretively. Few fall for “unpopular” girls. Have you asked why? Basically we all are wired to be attracted to certain characteristics of female to ensure better propagation of species. When a person falls for someone’s external qualities its called lust on the other hand when they fall for inner qualities it’s called love. Love is about appreciating person’s character, believing them and supporting them for their growth.
When children want a toy they get excited for a period but once they have it their interest wanes. Similar happens to people who are attracted to each other. Due to lack of knowledge or social inhibition; our mind becomes curious and wants physical intimacy badly. This usually is misunderstood as love but in reality its lust. And it lasts till we get intimacy. With intimacy we realize there are additional responsibilities and roles to play, realizing this we start losing interest in that particular person and want to get closer to someone else. Interestingly, lust is not restricted to fellow partner but for food, games or articles. This is inherent part of our wired brain. However, love is different, love needs conscious effort, and it is not acting on impulse but instead controlling them. In love we don’t seek but we understand and support.
One of the major fodder for lust is fantasy, our brain has unique power of imagination. At times this imagination flies unidirectional without realistic check and becomes fantasy. Lust is full of fantasy but love is full of reality. Bollywood and other media give us greatest fantasy of infatuation with poor knowledge of sex, we keep on fantasizing people of opposite gender. We should know that when our fantasy is focused on physical aspect it is lust not love!
Take a quiz, you may get your answer:
When is lust?
- Is your focus on external qualities?
- You want her/him to be in life anyhow?
- Is there an urge to be intimate?
- Is your fantasy focused on the partner’s physical aspect?
- Are you ready to compromise your moral or societal inhibitions?
If any of above question’s answer is yes, then Yes it is LUST….Not LOVE!!!
Consultant Psychiatrist, Mumbai