So, you're in a relationship and things are going great. It's been hot and heavy (and amazing!), but at this point you're hoping to move into a place where you feel like it could be long term. You know you've got the chemistry, but want to see if you've got the chops for love. How do you move out of the lust zone?
First things first: what is the difference between lust and love?
Lust is an initial physical attraction to another person. It's overwhelmingly powerful and it's driven by pheromones – although we're not generally aware of that. When we're madly attracted to someone else, it's because we sense (unconsciously) that they'd make an excellent genetic match, someone who would allow us to produce the strongest and healthiest offspring. Lust is all about the survival of our DNA. It's not about long-term compatibility, or about "happily ever after".
Love, on the other hand, isn't an immediate feeling. It grows over time. Love is more akin to a friendship than to a coupling. As psychiatrist M Scott Peck described - love is the desire to extend yourself for the purpose of nurturing the growth and furthering the dreams of another individual. Love is effortful; it involves personal sacrifice, and it grows slowly.
So how do you move out of the lust zone? A few things you want to keep in mind:
Lust is an intense desire or craving for gratification. When you are feeling an intense deep affection, you are moving in the right direction.
Symptoms of lust are desire, passion, acquisitiveness, and intense emotions. Contrast that to faithfulness, loyalty, and confidence. A willingness to make sacrifices for another. Working at settling differences. These are symptoms of love. As opposed to intense and sometimes difficult feelings of need which come with lust, love feels like a deep affection, contentment, and confidence. Partners communicate and negotiate appropriate expectations. You are loving your best friend
In short, while lust is focused on passion, love is passion and intimacy. Lust is often the first stage of love, and can lead to lasting friendships, romantic or otherwise. However, when not tempered with compassion and empathy, it can lead to emotionally damaging behavior. It's important to be cognizant and understand if there is the ability to move into love, otherwise lust can lead to addictive behavior and ultimately heartbreak.
There’s always some idealization in a new relationship, but true love endures when that fades. As the relationship grows, we develop trust and greater closeness. Instead of trying to change our partner, we accept him or her. We want to share more of our time and life together, including our problems and friends and family. Our lover’s needs, feelings, and happiness become important to us, and we think about planning a future together. When the passion is still there, we’re lucky to have both love and lust.