We’ve all been in the muddied mess of confusing relationships at one time or another. You may start out with the best of intentions and come out of it completely confused about how you feel. Or maybe you’re trying to gain some insight into how your partner feels. If you’re lost in the relationship woods, consider this list of signs that can help you to determine whether you’re in lust, in love, or in the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.
- It’s all about the fire. Take a look at how you spend time with the object of your affection. Do you prefer to spend hours talking? Going out and partying? Or would you prefer to spend all your time in bed? Furthermore, examine your thought processes around the time you spend with this person. You might be in lust if you often think, “We should be having sex right now!”
- It’s never about the fire. The contrast to this is clear: Do you love spending time with someone, talking for hours on end, really connecting with them, but then shy away from a more physical expression of that intimacy? That’s totally normal, and it mean you have the perfect foundation for a great friendship. When you first meet someone, it can be easy to confuse physical attraction with mental and emotional attraction. After a few weeks of spending time with him, you’re not super into the idea of jumping his bones, that’s cool. You should try to be besties instead.
- You both use words like “us” and “we” instead of “me” or “I.” This might seem like a silly, nitpicky thing, but the language we use can give us some big clues into our subconscious minds. If, when you’re not even thinking about it, you put yourself into a unit with your sweetheart, and if he or she does the same, that can be a powerful indicator of intention. The use of plural pronouns often says, “This has long-term written all over it.”
- It’s superficial. When you think about the things you like best about this person, what comes immediately to mind? If the first thing that pops into your head is how sexy he is, and then the second is how great he is in bed, and the third is what a wonderful kisser he is . . . well, you might be in lust.
- It’s completely mental. But the other side of that coin could be equally telling. If you can think only of things that point to how much you admire him or want to be like him, then you could have more of a burgeoning friendship happening. In order to find yourself placed squarely in the love department, you need to find a little bit of lust, and a little bit of friendship, and then that magical something extra.
- You think of a future together. And you talk about it. If you find it challenging to imagine a future without your sweetie at your side, that’s a pretty solid sign that you aren’t just in lust, and that this isn’t the beginning of a friendship only. Stronger proof is if you talk about what that future might look like together. Even if it’s something as simple as, “How about you come to my office holiday party this year?” That might seem like a small gesture, but a more meaningful message is being sent about the future.
- You’re full of feeling. True love is more than a feeling. Love, after all, is a verb—it’s something you do. If you find out your person is sick, for example, is your primary thought, “Oh, that sucks! We had plans and I’m disappointed”? If so, your true feelings are clear in that you’re more concerned about yourself than the other person. There’s nothing wrong with feeling upset about thwarted plans, of course, but love might have you calling your mom for her chicken noodle soup recipe and showing up at your partner’s house with a box of Kleenex rather than pouting about your sadness.
No matter where you are in your relationship, there’s room to grow. Long-term relationships have been built on top of lust and friendship alike so, regardless of how you begin, the potential for so much more is there. All you need to do is figure out what you’re feeling, in the present, and determine if you want more from the relationship than what you’re currently getting. If you do—and the feelings are reciprocated—then there’s no telling what the two of you can create together.