In Love or in Lust: 5 Ways to Know the Difference

I’m in love.” How many times have you heard one of your girlfriends say that only for them to turn around six weeks later and say “Well, I thought I was”?

Love is a beautiful experience. It’s actually so powerful that it can change your entire life—and yes, for the better! But if you don’t take the time (hopefully beforehand) to know the difference between love and lust, you can look up and realize that what you’re feeling is more like being a thirsty person in the desert. They think they see water, but the desperation is really just all up in their head. It’s a mirage, not the real thing.

Hey, nothing like a dose of reality to bring things back into perspective. If you want to spare your heart an unnecessary break, here’s how to tell the difference between love and lust—just in time for next time.

1. Lust is driven by the physical. Love is motivated by emotion.

When you’re talking to your best friend about the person you’re into, listen to the words that you use. If you’re saying things like “fine”, “hot”, “abs”, “sexy” but “smart”, “funny”, “sincere” never come up, that sounds more like lust than love. You need to be physically attracted, but if that’s all you’re interested in, that spark is gonna fizzle fast. Couples who’ve been together for many years will tell you that there are gonna be times when lust ain’t enough; when you’re gonna need to like your partner in order to stay in love. No time like the present to see if there is any real substance between the two of you.

2. Lust has a lot to do with sex. Love has more to do with affection.

Here’s Why You Are Unhappily In Love

Oxytocin is one heck of a drug. Literally. It’s called the “happy hormone”, one that reaches its intensity during an orgasm. It’s also what causes people to bond; especially women. This is why a lot of folks can have great sex and totally confuse it with true love. If all the two of you are doing is hooking up, you’re on a sexual high, not a love journey. But if you have moments you can share together holding hands, cuddling on the couch and just being together (clothes on), you just might be onto something.

3. Lust is selfish. Love gives.

LUST IS SELFISH. And yes, that needed to be in all caps because it’s an important point to remember. All lust truly cares about is its needs and satisfaction; even if it’s at the expense of others. Lust makes people manipulate, lie and hurt feelings. Love on the other hand gives. It is just as concerned about the object of its affection as its own. The person you’re seeing, how much do they invest in the relationship? Sit on that for a minute. Then be honest with yourself about whether you’re in a “love relationship” or not.

4. Lust focuses on the present. Love thinks about the future.

This one right here can spare you all kinds of drama if you take it to heart. If you’re getting late night sex calls, if last-minute dates are something that you’re used to, if when you bring up questions like “Where is this going?” they try and make you feel guilty for asking, those are red flags. Instant gratification is all that lust cares about. Meanwhile, love wants a commitment and a future. It cares about titles, meeting family and friends and sharing holidays. Living in the moment is cool, but love wants a whole lot more than that.

5. Lust is unstable. Love makes a commitment.

Please don’t confuse passion with instability! Orgasms have peaks, but your feelings shouldn’t be on a constant emotional roller coaster ride. If you’re always upset, don’t know where you stand and can’t expect what you and “they” are doing in two sentences or less, that’s not love; that’s confusion. With commitment, comes stability and that’s what love seeks to offer. No one’s saying you should expect one immediately, but if it’s been a year and going to the next level hasn’t even come up, hate to break it to you…sounds like the two of you are “in lust”, not love.


*Credits: Article by Shellie R. Warren

Foods to avoid during pregnancy


The long list of foods that pregnant women are advised to avoid can be a nerve-racking read for mums-to-be. While sushi and soft cheese are to be expected, many women are surprised to find out that seemingly innocuous menu items like salad and ham can also pose a risk to their unborn child.


The main concern with so many of these ‘banned’ foods is that they could be contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, which causes an infection called listeriosis. Although listeriosis is rare – only 88 cases were reported in Australia in 2009 – it can be very dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies. Some of the potential effects include miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and a very ill baby at birth.

While it is a serious concern, the paranoia it causes amongst pregnant women has led some health professionals to brand it “Listeria hysteria”. “So many pregnant women worry so much more about Listeria than about their nutrition,” says Melanie McGrice, Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia and author of The Pregnancy Weight Plan. “It’s important to be careful during pregnancy, but not to worry about it to the point where you miss out on key food groups. I often see women eating highly processed foods just so that they feel safe from Listeria, but they’re missing out on fish, lean red meat, salad and other nutritious foods.”

Fear Factor: pregnancy edition 

Before you throw away the entire contents of your fridge, find out whether these commonly cited pregnancy no-nos are as dangerous as they’re made out to be.

Processed, raw or undercooked meat

Not only can undercooked meat contain Listeria, but so can deli meats like ham and salami. “Listeria isn’t killed in the fridge like many other bacteria,” explains Melanie. “But any of those types of meat are fine if they’re heated over 60 degrees Celsius. However, ham and salami don’t have a lot of nutrition in them, so I wouldn’t encourage women to eat them during pregnancy. Instead, they should choose foods that are high in iron like fish, lean red meat or lean chicken.”

Raw or undercooked fish and seafood

All fish and seafood should be well cooked, so you can kiss your beloved sushi goodbye. As for the notion that shellfish should be avoided during pregnancy, Melanie assures us it’s a myth. “As long as it’s cooked and you eat it hot, it’s fine,” she says.

She notes that expectant mums should avoid types of fish that are high in mercury, such as flake, swordfish and marlin. “So many pregnant women eat fish and chips, but it’s usually flake, which is shark and it’s high in mercury. I really encourage women to eat fish as opposed to flake.”

Soft cheeses and unpasteurised dairy products

“Soft cheeses have a higher risk of Listeria contamination than hard ones, but again it’s very rare,” says Melanie. “Unpasteurised dairy products are a much bigger issue, so pregnant women should make sure all their dairy products are pasteurised.”

Raw or undercooked eggs

Beware of foods such as chocolate mousse and fresh mayonnaise that are made with raw eggs, as they can contain both Listeria and Salmonella. “I don’t really mind if women miss out on chocolate mousse during pregnancy because it’s not really nutritious and it’s full of extra kilojoules,” says Melanie.

Pre-made salads

The threat of Listeria rears its ugly head again in the case of salads that have been sitting around a deli counter or salad bar for several hours, but Melanie says that’s no reason to avoid salad altogether. “Just make sure it’s well-washed,” she says.


Green sprouts (such as alfalfa and snow pea sprouts) and bean sprouts (such as mung bean and soybean sprouts) can be contaminated with E.coli, Listeria and Salmonella, especially when they’re raw or just lightly cooked. “It would be wise to avoid them when you’re pregnant,” says Melanie. “But at the same time, don’t feel terribly guilty if you’ve eaten a bit of bean sprouts.”


“In everyday life, you might be a little less careful and put something in the fridge for four or five days before eating it, but during pregnancy you should make sure leftovers are eaten within 24 hours so bacteria doesn’t start to grow,” says Melanie.

Put down the pills, avoid taking certain supplements during pregnancy, including:

  • Vitamin A: “It can be toxic to babies in large doses,” she says. Foods that are high in vitamin A, such as liver, should also be avoided.
  • Vitamin E: “It’s often recommended for fertility, but you should stop taking the supplements once you get pregnant because too much vitamin E increases the risk of having a baby with a low birth weight or a heart defect,” says Melanie.
  • Vitamin B6: “Some people recommend it to assist with morning sickness, but there’s very little research to show it can help and it’s not hard to meet your B6 requirements through a nutritious diet, so I wouldn’t recommend B6 supplements during pregnancy because large doses can lead to nerve damage,” Melanie explains. “If you’re taking a pregnancy multivitamin, make sure you have less than 100mg of B6 a day.

Conception Calculator

Conception Calculator

The Conception Calculator assesses the conception windows and the corresponding due date based on your personal biological cycles. Conception is the initiation of pregnancy, or when an egg and sperm form a union. It normally occurs in the ampulla of the uterine tube. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which conception occurs outside the body. If conception occurs via sexual intercourse, sperm can normally live inside a woman for three to five days, or up to seven days. However, sperm mobility decreases after three days. The best time to get pregnant is during the three-day “window”, or two days before to the ovulation day.

Understanding the Fertility Window

The “fertility window” is a scientific fact: You have a better chance of becoming pregnant during the three-day “window,”, or two days before the ovulation day. But it’s all part of a much bigger process.

Love and Childbearing

The desire to have a child is all about love, for your partner, and for the child you will watch grow up.

Deep as this desire is in most couples, life often gets in the way. We suffer stress and worry from our work; we have little time as we try to deal with the day-to-day distractions and chores. The result is, we do not find time or have the feeling for making love as much as we might like to.

Yet, the first thing to know when you are trying to have a baby is that regular sex with your partner is the best preparation of all. When you are trying to have a baby, you should make love regularly – at least 2 to 3 times a week – even when you do not necessarily believe you are fertile or are near your ovulation day.

Regular lovemaking prepares the woman’s body for childbearing, and raises the hormonal level associated with it. Low fertility itself is directly associated with lowered feelings of sexuality. Lifestyle and relationships all enhance the chances of conception.

Regular lovemaking also creates more favorable conditions in the vagina. The presence of fertile-quality (or egg-white) cervical mucus fosters fertility. Moreover, the favorable vaginal conditions will assist in protecting the sperm and extending sperm life-span. In effect, fertile cervical fluids should extend the fertile window by creating a “sperm-friendly” environment in your vagina.

Making the Fertility Window Work for You

With a pattern of regular lovemaking achieved, the next thing to do is identify that handful of days directly prior to, and including the day of ovulation. Identifying this “window” will significantly boost your chances of conception.

This means tracking your personal biological cycle. One of the most effective ways to do this is with our conception calculator. Note the first day of your last period. Then note the length of the cycle to the next period. With those data, you can input the numbers into the calculator and get a list of the best days for intercourse and conception.

You can help the process along by keeping a basal body temperature chart. Tracking your basal body temperature and your cervical mucus can help you get pregnant. The patterns you see month after month can help you predict ovulation – and once you know when you’re likely to ovulate, you can have sex (or plan insemination) at the best time for conceiving.

Your basal body temperature is the lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period. To get an accurate reading, you must take your temperature when you first wake up in the morning, before you even sit up in bed. And you’ll need to use a basal thermometer (available at most pharmacies) which is sensitive enough to measure minute changes in body temperature. Try to wake up and take a reading at about the same time each morning.

Before ovulation, your basal body temperature will be in normal range – from about 97.2 degrees to about 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Two or three days after you ovulate, the temperature will rise by about one-half to one degree, and it will remain at that level until you have your period.

As for your cervical mucus, when your period is over, you’ll most likely be dry for several days. After that, you’ll start to have cloudy mucus that’s a bit like sticky paste.

A few days before ovulation, the mucus will become clear and slippery, very much like raw egg white, and you’ll have more of it. This lasts until the day of ovulation.

As you track these changes in both body temperature and cervical mucus, you’ll begin to make out your own biological pattern. You’ll know, more or less, when to expect these changes. Working with the calculator, and this tracking, you’ll be able to vastly increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

If you’ve been keeping track for a few months and you find that you ovulate on a different day each month of the cycle, (for example, day 14, then day 17, then day 12), you need to make use of a combination of the signals. Perhaps your cervical mucus changes on a certain day before you ovulate. Or you note a particular change in temperature. A pattern of one type or another usually emerges if you track carefully and accurately.

Follow Your Feelings

Many women find the tracking process attractive, as a means to get closer to their own bodies.

But some women find the charting too stressful. With so many things to worry about in life, they may not care to add another.

If stress is an issue, experts say that you should just try to have sex every two days as a minimum. If you can keep that going, you have an excellent chance of hitting a day when your body conditions are favorable. Sperm live up to seven days in the woman’s body, so increased contact can only work in your favor.

After all, feeling good and loving is an essential part of the process, and perhaps the most important part.

Conception Calculator

Mutual Attraction Leading to Sexual Chemistry

You’re single and content and suddenly ambushed by an intense, intoxicating connection with someone you’ve just met. Intense sexual “chemistry” is a high like no other. But it can also make you do ridiculous things. When does intense chemistry lead to the mother lode and when does it become a death spiral? Today’s post deals with the simplest kind of chemistry and why it can be misleading.

Chemistry, Lust and Imprints
Sometimes intense chemistry is just strong mutual lust and nothing more. You’re simply each other’s physical “type” and lack, or don’t bother finding out about, any other kind of compatibility. But what shapes your “type”?

Blatant cues come from messages about attractiveness from your culture, popular media, family and peers that you receive all your life. Other cues are more personal and unconscious. The first people and things that generated a strong arousal response in you when you were a child leave sensory imprints that are triggered when similar ones show up in your adult life. You didn’t necessarily identify the sensations as sexual when you were a kid, just pleasurable – the thick curly hair of a family friend that brushed your cheek when she hugged you, or the perfume and green eyes of a flirtatious cousin who tickled you. Sometimes imprints coincide with sexual awakening such as when a kid views porn for the first time (and the average American does see porn before puberty these days). The size, shape or ethnicity of the explicit object of desire gets seared into memory. Extreme imprints that begin like this partially explain some paraphilias such as fetishes and voyeurism.

If you and your partner both recognize the intense spark of chemistry as a pure lust thing, you might pursue a brief sexual encounter and part ways once you’ve had your fill of each other, carrying sweet memories and no expectations. It’s the uber-hookup without strings or regrets. UNLESS…

1. You get hooked on repeated highs of impersonal sex with a particular physical type (masturbatory or with a partner), which hinder you from finding real intimacy in a long-term love relationship. The ebbs and flows of long-term passionate love start to seem too anemic by comparison and true closeness feels claustrophobic or like too much work. Online dating sites have made finding quick matches with physical “types” easy and tempting. A book called The Centerfold Syndrome captures this caveat well, though it was written before the Internet changed the dating and porn landscape drastically. Marnia Robinson’s blog presents a fascinating look at the ramifications of getting hooked on the highs of intense chemistry.

2. A single mind-blowing encounter becomes your new (impossible) sexual benchmark. You had one unforgettable high chemistry sexual experience with a near stranger and you can’t get it out of your head. Lovemaking in any serious relationship now falls short of this impossible-to-repeat standard so you keep breaking up with people who could be excellent mates, but can’t compete with your brightly lit sexual memory. Replaying the memory in high-def feeds and embellishes it. That peak experience needs to be relegated to distant storage so you can focus on discovering unique sexual pleasures within your full-featured relationship without unfair comparators.

3. You read more into a pure lust thing than is really there. Two situations make people especially vulnerable to this distortion. First, if you are really hungry for love when lust comes along you become more prone to fantasizing a relationship where none exists because your unmet relational needs cause you to selectively interpret reality. For example, your lust partner has said a lot about how attracted he or she is to you but you have learned very little else about each other and no future plans to meet have been made beyond “I’ll call you”. When your calls aren’t returned you make excuses because “the chemistry was so strong!” You’re left feeling hurt, used, angry, confused or regretful when you have only deluded yourself. In this situation it would have been healthier to bask in the delicious feelings of arousal without acting on them until you learned much more about each other’s personalities, characters and life situations.

Second, if you have been taught that hedonistic sex without love or commitment is wrong – but want to succumb to pure desire, you may imagine there a relationship in order to reduce the dissonance between your “wants” and “shoulds”. In a study I conducted among college women using a hypothetical dating scenario, I found a significant relationship between conflicted sexual self-concept (e.g., I want sex but I shouldn’t be having it) and negative feelings after consensual sex 1. The same study showed that women who had conflicted sexual self-concepts and drank alcohol before sex (in their real lives) were more likely to believe that they had been coerced after a hypothetical consensual sexual encounter than those who drank before sex but had congruent sexual self-concepts. In my practice I work with individuals on identifying and managing the contradictory values they have about sex that interfere with healthy relationship decisions. See

More Than a Lust Thing
Intense sexual chemistry is often way more than a lust thing with an ideal physical type. In my next post I’ll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of love relationships that begin with intense emotional chemistry and how to know if they will lead to growth or disaster.

Now I want to talk about the immediate chemistry between two people that does come from deeper connection – which can either be fortuitous or disastrous. How can you tell which path it will take?

Magnetic Infatuation
In many cases of intense chemistry there is powerful magnetism because, in addition to physical attraction, you each have some of the major positive and negative characteristics of significant people in your partner’s earlier life. You will be consciously aware of the positive features, but the negative ones that also lure you will stay below radar until you get to know each other better.

Once the initial romantic blowtorch begins to cool, each partner’s negative submerged characteristics become visible (typically after two or three months of dating regularly). The negative features will often be closely related to the positive qualities that initially attracted you. If partners are psychologically and emotionally mature it’s a soft landing that exposes minor quirks to be modified or accepted. In the immature couple it’s a crash landing. For example, confidence seems to morph into dominance or conceit. Independent spirit twists into emotional distance or selfishness. Calm reserve becomes cold withdrawal. Energy and passion turn into harsh attacks. Admiration becomes possessiveness. Now partners look at each other and wonder what they could possibly have been thinking when they were so infatuated. They were once hot. Now they’re now hot and bothered.

Partners are usually evenly matched on emotional and psychological maturity in high-chemistry relationships – for better or worse. The greater the maturity, the greater the proportion of healthy positive attractors there will be. At the healthiest end of the continuum are rare megawatt relationships that begin with great passion and stay hot, supportive and satisfying for a lifetime – perhaps Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith?

The less emotionally and psychologically mature the partners are, the greater the proportion of negative characteristics lurking beneath the surface to pull them unconsciously towards each other. At the extreme negative end of the continuum are the passionate but toxic couples that find it difficult to leave each other but can’t stay together without hurting each other. Sometimes toxic chemistry plays out publicly as in Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s fourteen-year corrosive tug-of-war before they finally divorced.

Unfinished Emotional Business
People are drawn to immature magnetic matches because they provide opportunities for completing unfinished emotional business. Unfinished business comes from missing some kind of nurturing that is necessary for emotional stability, validation and growth because parents or other important figures in your early life could not provide it. The love that did come from those figures went hand-in-hand with deprivations so love and negative characteristics end up getting fused in emotional memories. This person then unconsciously chooses a romantic partner who is best suited to re-enact those specific deprivations – and turn on feelings of love that are also bound to them.

At the point where the glow of infatuation wears off, unfinished business leads to a power struggle in which each partner highlights, provokes and responds to familiar negative characteristics and tries to get what was missed in early life from the current partner. As each partner projects his or her old hurts onto the current partner, they each (justifiably) feel blamed for something that’s not entirely about them. The part that is about them is often a big blind spot so they can only see their partner’s role in the problem.

Growth Opportunity
If couples commit to staying and working through this kind of high-chemistry power struggle they have a golden opportunity to grow in a relationship. The ground rules for this growth can be very tough for these couples to honor consistently. Relationship growth and repair must include (1) treating each other with respect during conflict (e.g., no sarcastic remarks, aggression, put-downs, stonewalling etc.) (2) dealing with substance abuse issues, if any (which are common among high-chemistry toxic couples) (3) using triggers and flash points as clues for identifying and developing the immature aspects of each partners self-development.

A short activity I created called Flip Sides can help you begin to identify partner features that may turn into triggers in your high-chemistry relationship. A good therapist can facilitate the relational growth process, whether working with you individually or as a couple. If partners break up before learning more about those negative characteristics they were drawn to and how to develop the missing pieces in themselves, next time they feel intense chemistry with someone they will probably repeat the whole process …and blame the demise of the relationship on their partner again!