According to an article published by Readers Digest, there are some simple guidelines to held you decide:
Lust is about taking, while love is about giving
If you’re in love with your partner, you’re probably thinking about ways to show your appreciation and devotion. Yet if you’re only in lust, you might be more selfish, only looking for self-pleasure. The essence of lust, along with the traits of jealousy and pursuit of honour is based upon ‘devouring’.
More specifically, it’s the sensation that leads one to try and take what someone else has or is and incorporate it as part of you. This is a major reason why a person driven by lust often has a burning desire to physically ‘consume’ their mate through the fires of their passion. On the other hand, the difference between love and lust is that love is about giving and investing in another person and, if you stop doing things to show appreciation and gratitude, your relationship might be headed for a breakup.
You spend all your time together in bed
If you’re always in bed or engaging in something sexual, it’s likely that you’re in lust, rather than love. When you only feel lust for someone, your goal is to experience sexual pleasure, which isn’t bad, but lust usually excludes a strong emotional component.
Contrarily, love includes sexual desire, but is much broader. If it is love, you and your partner will meet each other’s sexual and emotional needs, such as helping each other through problems, instead of it just being about how fast you can get each other’s clothes off.
Your imagination is on fire
As opposed to love, lust is a feeling, sensation and emotion that isn’t based on a real appetite. Instead, it’s based upon a projection of your imagination, of the qualities and significance that the person in front of you possesses. When you’re experiencing lust towards a person, you’re far more likely to idealise that person and who they are and sort of projecting onto them what you want them to be, based upon your needs as you perceive them.
Unfortunately this frequently leads to the belief that the person you’re lusting after is flawless and can do no wrong. And as a result many red flags are missed. Basically the difference when it comes to love vs lust is: If you really love a person, you’ll probably see them as they actually are: A real human being with lots of flaws (or at least a couple) but you love them nonetheless. And, if conflicts arise because of flaws, it’s best to use good communication to resolve issues.
Lust comes first
Another helpful clue that can assist you in distinguishing love vs lust is to think about the length of the relationship. It’s almost an immutable rule that lust is something experienced in the beginning, but that genuine love is a sensation felt later on.
And, once you do fall in love, the benefits to having sex, on an emotional level will probably increase as well. This makes sense, as love is based upon giving to another and it takes time to invest deeply in another person, whereas lustful attraction can develop almost instantaneously.
Physical appearance tops all concerns
If you’re overly concerned with how attractive your partner looks, you might just be in the lust phase of the relationship. The emotion of lust is primarily focused on the external, like how your partner looks, their body, and how you appear in their eyes.
However, if you love a person, while you may well notice that they’re pretty or handsome, you also pay a great deal of attention to their fine qualities that are not skin-deep, like intellect and kindness.
Are you exclusive?
If a person is in lust, they will be interested in the relationship to the extent to which it’s convenient and will probably shy away from any real commitments. If you really love a person, though, you’ll be busy taking care of them and wanting to give to them.
Even when it is not convenient you are willing to make a sacrifice and invest in them. And, with love, you’re in it for the long haul, so you’ll also look for ways to expand the relationship and make plans for the future.
Do you share feelings with each other?
If you don’t open up to share feelings and show vulnerability with your partner, you’re likely just in lust. And, if you’re too concerned with fantasies and non-emotional topics, you haven’t entered a stage of love either. In a way, you’d rather pretend you have a perfect life than making room for trust, communication and deeper commitment.
Are friends and family involved?
Friends and family matter. If your circle of friends don’t get along with your partner and you don’t care and just alienate yourself from them to be with this person, it could mean you’re feeling lust because you don’t see this person as a potential long-term partner. Yet, if you’re introducing him or her to friends and family, which in itself is a positive step towards love, and you care how they view this person, it means you have deeper feelings.