From the moment we arrive on the planet, social culture teaches us what love is supposed to look like. Disney movies are a common point of reference, along with many other forms of media and entertainment. With the boom of the internet, we have all been plunged into a world of comparison like never before with picture-perfect images of what love looks like.

But how can we identify what love REALLY looks like - and is it any different than lust?

Muddling up love and lust can lead to heartache. Believing someone loves you, when they are only lusting after you, can leave you in danger of a toxic relationship. Being able to recognize your own feelings is vital to keeping yourself safe as you experience relationships.

Here is your 5 step guide to knowing the significant differences between love and lust:

1.   Listen to yourself.  When attraction comes into play, our perspectives can be skewed. Take time out to reflect on how you feel when you’re in the other person’s company. Do you think this is a whirlwind, or do you feel genuinely cared for? One is lust, the other more likely love. Your gut holds the answers.

2.   Filter out online influence.  It’s important to remember that the examples you see of couples on your newsfeeds are only showing you a fragment of reality. It is a photo moment image and nothing more. Resist the temptation of comparison to leave space for your own intuition. 

3.   Keep a record.  By noting your experiences and how you are feeling each day, you will be far better equipped to see your situation with clarity. You don’t need to start keeping a detailed journal, a few lines a day will do. You might be surprised at how quickly this becomes a powerful tool of reference for you.

4.   Inform yourself.  We live in an age of information - and that translates to personal education! Head offline and pick up a few well-written books regarding relationship health. Consider this your opportunity to upgrade your understanding of love and lust and know the important differences in future relationship situations. 

5.   Notice the signals.  This step isn’t about noticing signs from them - it’s about picking up on the ones your body is sending you. In an extension to our first point, self scan your body signals and verbal responses to the other person. Are you flirting heavily, needing your physicality to be validated? This could be lust. Do you feel safe with this person? Perhaps this is love. Let your mind and body guide you. 

Lust can be incredibly enjoyable, and it can be coupled with love. In fact, lust is often the place we begin before love arrives in our relationships! By following this 5 step guide, you will be more than able to identify the differences to build happy, healthy relationships in the future. 

Never forget - you are worthy of caring love, not just fleeting lust.