Is it Love or Lust?

As teens, we've all experienced that slightly crazy, semi-fantasy obsession with that cute someone in our class - only to look back and shake our heads at what now appears to be obviously just infatuation.

But are we really any better these days, now that we've grown up a bit and are older and (supposedly) wiser? Here are some questions you can ask yourself when, at some point, you inevitably find yourself in the same confusing old confusing quandary - is it love or lust? Is love really blind, or is there actually some method to the madness?

1. Are you friends?

When two people are in love, they are in fact not only lovers but also friends. That is why the story of best friends falling in love with each other can sound cliched - it's a cliche because it really does happen quite often! This is not to say that if you met someone for the first time at a party and started dating him/her right afterwards that you can't fall in love with each other, but an actual friendship will have to develop along with the dates. If the relationship is based purely off feelings of physical chemistry, it's a strong likelihood that you're looking at lust instead.

2. Are you almost solely focused on the physical appearance of your partner?

Love is a welding of physical desire and emotional connection, so if you find yourself more focused on or more attracted to the physical traits of your special somebody than his/her character and personality, you may just be lusting.

3. Do you recognize your partner's strengths and weaknesses and accept them?

As a relationship matures and develops, and you choose to stay in even despite the person's flaws (we all have some, right?), you have become "attached" and are deciding to commit.  Commitment is often driven by oxytocin - often called the "attachment hormone". (Oxytocin is actually naturally released through orgasm, which explains why people often feel more deeply bonded after sex, casual or otherwise). The ability and desire to commit is a strong defining difference between love and lust.

4. Do you feel motivated to be a better person?

Lust is selfish while love is about selflessness. If you are not willing to break bad habits and change behaviors and words that hurt your partner, you may be in lust and not in love. When a person is in love, he/she is usually inspired to improve, despite difficulty. After all, love means you want only the very best for your special someone.

5. How long has it been?

Scientifically, falling in love / getting attached takes some time. Initial attraction is not love, and love doesn't usually happen "at first sight!" (that is our friend called lust). But that should not be disheartening - the process of falling in love is, in part, the transformation of lust into love. If you have just recently met someone, give it some time and ask yourselves these questions as your relationship develops!"