Is it Lust or Love? Keeping the Balance of Emotional and Physical Intimacy.

Sep 28, 2021

It makes sense that tons of people want to know if they’re in love. In the ongoing battle of lust vs love, it can be challenging to figure out where you or your partner stand on the matter. Let’s help break down the confusion on the lust vs love definition and help you find some clarity in your life. 

The truth is that lust vs love is a bit too simplified to give a great take on a relationship. Think instead of emotional intimacy and physical intimacy (also known as sexual intimacy) and the balance between the two. 

  • Emotional Intimacy– Having a connection with someone based on how you feel emotionally when you connect. Frequently emotional intimacy builds from talking, sharing, and joking together. 
  • Physical intimacy– Having a connection with someone based on how you feel physically when you connect. Frequently physical intimacy builds from touching, kissing, and having sex. 

When we look at these instead of lust vs love, we can see that the answer to the question, “how to tell if someone loves you” is a bit more complex. There’s no quick lust vs love quiz, but see which of the following models most applies to your relationship. 

Low Emotional Intimacy, Low Physical Intimacy

You may see the double “low”s here and think that this is a bad thing. Relationships in this quadrant are currently scoring 0-0 in the lust vs love battle. That’s not a problem; it’s just an opportunity.  

Relationships in this category are just heating up. You may have just met or only been talking with one another for a bit. Since you just started talking, you probably haven’t had the chance to open up about yourself. You may be waiting to share more about your family or personal life. They may not have opened up to you about their hobbies or passions. It’s not that you won’t ever get there; it’s just that you aren’t there yet. 

Physically, you may have briefly connected, but nothing that set either of you on fire with passion. Everyone’s initial first touches are hesitant and sometimes scared, so it makes sense if you’re not physically intimate right away. If you don’t know how to tell if someone loves you or if you’re just really confused yourself, odds are you’re probably in this relationship category. 

Answer yourself the following questions to see if this is your lust vs love relationship category: 

  • Am I waiting to share more about myself?
  • Do I feel like they’re holding something back?
  • Can I tell we’re both nervous when we’re touching?
  • Does touching feel uncomfortable?
  • Do I know more about them than their dating profile?

If your answer was “yes” to 4 or more of these, you’re probably in this category.  

lust vs love

Low Emotional Intimacy, High Physical Intimacy

Low emotional intimacy and high physical intimacy comes in scoring 1-0 in the battle of lust vs love. Relationships in this category have taken steps to get closer, but primarily those with their bodies. 

While you may not talk or laugh much together, odds are relationships in this category are getting hot and heavy in the bedroom. You may have had your first passionate, non-hesitant makeout session or more. 

Answer yourself the following questions to see if this is your lust vs love relationship category: 

  • Do I know more about their body than their passions?
  • Have we spent more time physically connecting than talking?
  • Do we spend most of our time talking about how we’re going to connect physically?
  • Am I feeling unsafe to share details about my life with them?
  • Do I feel a sense of mystery when I’m with them?

If your answer was “yes” to 4 or more of these, you’re probably in this category.  

High Emotional Intimacy, Low Physical Intimacy

This relationship category will start having you feel real butterflies. At this point, you may have opened up about your life more, and they may have done the same. That’s what’s giving you that high level of emotional spark. 

The lack of physical intimacy could just be an indicator that you’re spending so much of your time connecting in other ways that you haven’t had a chance to really get to know one another’s bodies just yet. 

Answer yourself the following questions to see if this is your lust vs love relationship category: 

  • Do I know intimate details about their past?
  • Do I feel comfortable sharing secrets with them?
  • Are we distracted when it comes time to sex?
  • Is connecting with your bodies a bit scary still?
  • Are you worried about connecting sexually?

If your answer was “yes” to 4 or more of these, you’re probably in this category.  

lust vs love

High Emotional Intimacy, High Physical Intimacy

This relationship type is probably what everyone wants most- for a good reason. In high emotional and physical intimacy relationships, we see couples effortlessly sharing their deepest secrets and their most intimate sex. This relationship type has a deep understanding of where one another stands emotionally at any given time- you may even be starting to recognize their feelings shifting based on what’s going around. 

Physically, sex is more than just a quick hook-up. This type of relationship type frequently has longer, more passionate love-making sessions. 

Answer yourself the following questions to see if this is your lust vs love relationship category: 

  • Can I easily see shifts in their behavior or feelings?
  • Do they notice when I’m feeling “off”?
  • Does sex feel fulfilling for all parties?
  • Can I easily anticipate what they’d do next in a situation?
  • Do we have a hard time spending time apart?

If your answer was “yes” to 4 or more of these, you’re probably in this category.  

While there’s no quick lust vs love definition or the sure-fire way how to tell if someone loves you, hopefully, these different relationship types have helped you figure out where you and your partner stand. If you take the questions above as a sort of lust vs love quiz, you may be able to learn more about where you stand currently and compare it to how you want your relationship to look.

Remember, it’s OK to be in different places in your relationship at different seasons or times of your life. There’s nothing wrong with periodically slipping into a different relationship type as long as you and your partner are both comfortable and having fun. There are no real winners in the battle of lust vs love after all, and no one right way to do relationships. 

Remember that it takes work if you want to go for a relationship with high emotional and physical intimacy. Relationships that are both very loving and lustful are carefully crafted with two people who really want to work to create something together. You’ll have to look to learn more about your partner continuously. Keep asking them questions about every aspect of their life- including what feels good sexually. On the other hand, you’ll also have to work to continuously be vulnerable and share with them. If you’ve been hurt before, this can be hard work to open up. You’ll also have to work to continuously share more about yourself as you grow and change. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to have a relationship and no clear winner in the battle of lust versus love. The one thing that is always true? You deserve the type of relationship that makes you feel best. 

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