5 Signs to Identify if It's Love or Desire - Step To Health
 

5 Signs to Identify if It's Love or Desire

Feeling love or desire for another person are two very different things. So if you're in doubt, these signs will help you clarify your feelings.
5 Signs to Identify if It's Love or Desire

Last update: 19 November, 2021

When you’re attracted to a person, it can be difficult to identify whether it’s love or desire that you feel. You want to be with that person, to see them at every moment, but if at some point you’ve confused love with desire, it’s normal that you have some doubts.

Why is it so difficult to make the difference?

Because your brain is releasing large doses of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that, according to the San Fernando Hospital Clinic, is the cause of pleasurable sensations and the feeling of relaxation. In addition, other substances are also released, such as serotonin and oxytocin.

Let’s take a closer look.

The differences between love and desire

Despite what’s happening in your brain, it is possible that you can identify whether it’s love or desire that you feel. To do this, let’s take a look at some definitions the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) gives us about these two terms:

  • Love: A feeling towards another person that attracts us and that makes us happy and gives us energy to live, communicate, and create together while seeking reciprocity in the desire for union.
  • Desire: An emotional attraction towards something that appeals to us.

As you may have noticed, desire is the attraction you feel for the other person you may or may not be in love with. When you feel love, you also feel desire. But you can feel desire without love.

You’ll be able to identify whether it’s love or desire over time. However, after several experiences, you may not want to wait that long and want to clarify your thoughts as soon as possible. For this, the following signs may come in handy.

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Signs that will help you identify if it’s love or desire

Now it’s time to grab a pen and paper or open a notepad on a digital device. It’s very important that you don’t forget these signs.

They will help you clarify your thoughts when you have doubts about whether what you feel for the other person is love or desire. Plus, we’ll also give you some examples to improve your understanding.

Deseo sexual que no es amor.
Desire may not be the same as love. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s important to keep in mind.

1. You just want to have a good time

This first of the signs to know if it’s love or desire will help you a lot if you start to have doubts about what the other person may be feeling, too.

What happens when you just want to have a good time?

Well, you’ re going to call the other person to have fun, have sex, or have a coffee once in a while. But there’s nothing more.

They won’t be there for you in hard times, though, because your purpose is to be together to have a good time. This type of relationship is often referred to as a “friend with benefits.”  However, the reality is that you’re neither friends nor a couple – nor anything else, for that matter.

2. Your intentions go in only one direction

Do you want to go on a trip? Take a simple walk to talk?

This happens when you feel love and want to make plans with that person who’s becoming very special to you. But if you just desire them, your intentions probably go in one direction: sex.

If this is you, be careful. It’s very painful to be with someone who only wants you for sex and for whom you are feeling something else. Therefore, it’s essential that in these situations you clarify your feelings. If you both just desire each other, then there’s no problem!

3. You want to build a relationship if you’re in love

When we talk about building a relationship we don’t mean that you’re going to get married and have children. The moment you love someone, you don’t just want them; you want them to be a part of your life. You’ll start to make plans, and maybe you will imagine a future living together and you will like to learn things about each other that you haven’t discovered yet.

There’s a beautiful image that clearly defines what it is to feel love for another person and to want to build a relationship with them. It’s of a couple walking hand in hand along a path. If you only desire someone, it’s not be possible to visualize this image.

Pareja en camino que siente amor.
A path to walk along with the other is an expression of love, because it’s projected into the future.

4. You want to be there in good times and bad times

If you love someone, you won’t only be there in the good times, but also in the bad times. You’ll want to listen to the other person, comfort them when they need it, and give them your full support. A relationship is built this way, because you really love each other.

In the moment when you just desire the other person, you may care, but in a selfish way. For example, it may bother you if he or she can’t meet you to see you. However, meanwhile, you won’t be there for them when you don’t want to. In this case, it’s just desire.

5. You don’t complement each other

This is one of the last signs to know if it’s love or desire.

When there’s just desire, you don’t have to complement the other person. In fact, it is very likely that you don’t want more than just sex with them, because there are aspects that you don’t like.

However, the moment you fall in love, it’s because you both complement each other. Despite your differences, you fit together, you communicate, and you grow.

Keep this in mind to know if it’s love or desire that you feel.

Short term or long term: Desire or love

Are you now more aware of the differences between love and desire?

Remember that when you love someone, you have a plan for the future. You want to build a relationship. However, when you only feel desire, you want to have a good time and that’s it.



  • Rovira, H. (2016). La diferencia entre amor y deseo: un certamen poético barcelonés de 1584. Moderna språk110(1), 122-140.
  • Ruppert, F. (2021). Amor, deseo y trauma: Hacia una identidad sexual sana. Herder Editorial.