The Difference Between Love, Lust And Infatuation

In a culture obsessed with the idea of falling in love and being in love, it’s imperative to understand the difference between love, lust and infatuation. Before starting the real discussion, please read the following story first as it’s pertinent to today’s topic.

difference love lust infatuation


With the help of his best friend Mercutio, Romeo crashes into a party filled with affiliates of a rival gang. In order to blend in and “loosen up”, Romeo swallows a heart-shaped pill (ecstasy). The drug leaves the young man in a fairly agitated state. As a result, Romeo excuses himself into a quieter room to calm himself down. There, the young man spots Juliet and he feels instantly drawn to her. The feeling is mutual, but the two lovebirds soon learn that their parents are long time rivals. Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop them from wanting to see each other.

Romeo and Juliet eventually marry in secret but their happiness doesn’t last long. Shortly after, Romeo gets into trouble after murdering Juliet’s cousin Tybalt. The man fatally injured Mercutio in a fight and Romeo went after him to avenge the death of his best friend. In order to avoid incarceration, Romeo leaves town and hides from the police.

With the help of the priest that married them, Juliet manages to see Romeo again and they consummate their marriage. Meanwhile, Juliet’s father rushes her to marry the governor’s son. Desperate, Juliet runs to the priest seeking for advice. The old man suggests Juliet to stage her own death with the help of a sleeping potion. The young lady follows the priest’s instructions. However, Romeo leaves his hiding place before receiving the priest’s message, which led him to believe that his significant other was actually dead.

Distraught, Romeo goes to Juliet’s funeral and takes his own life by drinking a vial of poison. Meanwhile, Juliet awakens and sees Romeo dying. His death leaves her devastated, so she decides to take her own life with Romeo’s gun.

This is how one of the greatest love stories of all time (in the literary world) ends. The version that you’ve just read it’s a bit more modern, but the story is the same: Romeo and Juliet. Whenever people think about love, these two iconic characters often pop up. However, is “Romeo and Juliet” a true love story or just a fantasy? Those two are indeed fictional characters, but let’s say, they existed in the real world: would their love story last?

Difference Between Love, Lust And Infatuation

Lust Is Not Love

Lust can be described as an intense physical desire towards someone. Having said that, finding someone attractive does not equate being in love with that person. As a result, whenever someone says it’s was love at first sight, they probably meant lust at first sight.

Although most don’t like to admit it, sexual attraction is often the key trigger that prompts someone wanting to interact with another person. Let’s be honest, using the term love at first sight is simply an euphemism to describe the feeling of wanting to mate with someone we find physically attractive. However, listing physical attraction as the foundation of a romantic relationship doesn’t sound as nice as love at first sight. As a matter of fact, the word “lust” is often frown upon when standing next to a revered word like “love”.

When Romeo saw Juliet for the first time, he didn’t fall in love with her. The young man saw a cute girl and he wanted to talk to her. That’s it. What about Juliet? She saw a cute guy and fancied the idea of him courting her. There is no other way to explain it. Let’s now imagine that they both found each other unattractive, their story would’ve ended the moment they saw each other.

Infatuation Is Dangerous

Infatuation is also an intense feeling of attraction towards someone, but it’s a little bit more complex than lust. The latter is mainly physical, whereas infatuation alters a person’s perception of reality. An infatuated person sees their object of desire with a filter. In other words, they are in love with an idea, not a real person.

Sometimes a fantasy can turn into an obsession, that’s when infatuation becomes dangerous. Being in love with an idea is much easier than dealing with a real person. Infatuation is not exclusive to unrequited love. As a matter of fact, what most couples experience in the beginning is infatuation, not love.

In many ways, infatuation is like that pill that Romeo took at the party. Basically, it altered his reality and his perception of Juliet. He stills fancies her, but being under the influence made him want her even more. That’s what infatuation does to people, it makes them chase after a fantasy. However, sooner or later reality always hits. That’s why many struggle to stay together after the honeymoon phase is gone.

Love Is Not Blind

Unlike lust and infatuation, love is about looking at a person and seeing them for who they really are. Love does not rely on a fantasy and it’s about accepting your partner for their qualities and flaws. Therefore, contrary to the old saying, love is not blind.

If lust and infatuation are turbulent and fleeting feelings, then love should be the complete opposite. Love’s foundation is based on having a strong emotional connection with your partner. Therefore, love should be like a calm and warm sea that nourishes a person from the inside.

Is Love Everything In A Relationship?

Unlike lust or infatuation, love seems to be the least superficial amongst the three. But is love all we need? Is love the key behind successful long-term relationships? It’s important, but it’s not everything.

It’s almost impossible to talk about romantic love without mentioning physical intimacy. Sexual desire does not need love to work, but love will struggle when there’s no sexual intimacy. Let’s be real for a moment and think about the following: what is a deep feeling of affection towards someone without a sexual component attached to them? A friendship.

Now, is it that bad to be in a romantic relationship with a friend? No, but what’s the fun in all that? Although, love is the standard that couples should aim for, it’s hard to deny the allure of lust and infatuation.

In today’s modern society, people are in love with idea of being love. However, where does that obsession come from? It’s a social construction. The real truth? People don’t need love to live, but life feels nicer when love is around. Having said that, love is a luxury, not a necessity.

Why do people say that true love is hard to find? The truth is: love cannot be found. There is this prevalent and wrong idea that once we find the one, everything is going to be okay. First of all, the one doesn’t exist. Second, all good things require effort. Having said that, people that say they cannot find love are not working hard enough.

Finding a compatible mate is just part of the equation of love. In many ways, love is like happiness, it requires effort. Instead of insisting on the idea of finding happiness or love, people should be working towards creating them.

Final Thoughts

Love is a solid foundation for a relationship, but it’s not enough. There needs to be some form of physical intimacy. Now, is this still applicable when people reach an older age? Maybe not. However, young people (or sexually active folks) should be doing what’s right for their age. Having said that, it’s completely natural that people from different age group prioritize different things in a relationship. There isn’t a one size fits all type of answer here.

Why were the names of Romeo and Juliet brought into this conversation? Although they are fictional characters, their “love story” is often considered the epitome of romantic love. However, people are giving these two too much credit. It’s only a beautiful story because they died young. If Romeo and Juliet’s storyline was extended for another 10 years and set in a modern day society (where people have options), I’m not so sure whether these two would have made it. Romeo and Juliet is one the greatest love stories of all time because its author (William Shakespeare) crystallized the leads’ relationship at its peak.

It’s clear that love, lust and infatuation are very different beasts. However, who said we can’t have it all? If you think about it, lust is wonderful because it makes you feel alive. Infatuation is also awesome because it tricks your mind into believing that you’ve met the most wonderful person in the world (even when they are not). Last but not least, love is great as it challenges you to be better version of yourself. Having said that, these feelings don’t have to be mutually exclusive and they can all coexist in the same relationship.