Do You Know The Difference?
By Judith Orloff, M.D.
As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen how intense sexual attraction is notorious for obliterating common sense and intuition in the most sensible people. Why? Lust is an altered state of consciousness programmed by the primal urge to procreate. Studies suggest that the brain in this phase is much like a brain on drugs. MRI scans illustrate that the same area lights up when an addict gets a fix of cocaine as when a person is experiencing the intense lust of physical attraction. Also in the early stage of a relationship, when the sex hormones are raging, lust is fueled by idealization and projection–you see what you hope someone will be or need them to be–rather than seeing the real person, flaws and all.
In my book “Guide to Intuitive Healing” I discuss the difference between lust and love as well as techniques to enhance sexual wellness. Pure lust is based solely on physical attraction and fantasy–it often dissipates when the “real person” surfaces. It’s the stage of wearing rose colored glasses when he or she “can do no wrong.” Being in love doesn’t exclude lust. In fact, lust can lead to love. However, real love, not based on idealization or projection, requires time to get to know each other. Here are some signs to watch for to differentiate pure lust from love.
SIGNS OF LUST • You’re totally focused on a person’s looks and body. • You’re interested in having sex, but not in having conversations. • You’d rather keep the relationship on a fantasy level, not discuss real feelings. • You want to leave soon after sex rather than cuddling or breakfast the next morning. • You are lovers, but not friends.