We live in a day and age when young people are bombarded with misleading images and rhetoric that tells them that love is sex, love is self-fulfilling, and love is a feeling you get when you're with someone. These world-based ideals and morals come from a word that is often compared to love-- lust. Most people, no matter what their beliefs are, know 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (Love is patient, love is kind, and so on). Following are some points from Dr. Charles Stanley on the difference between love and lust. If we stop looking to the world for the definition of love, we'll see there is no such thing as love at first sight.
Love can wait. Lust has to have it now.
Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person keeps pressuring you to do something or be someone you're not out of "love?" That's just one example of how lust is misunderstood as love in a relationship, friendly or romantic. You see, love really is patient. Someone who loves you isn't going to put pressure on you to be something that you aren't. Someone who loves you isn't going to constantly nag you to try to get something out of you. That's lust. Lust can't wait like love can. Lust is impatient.
Love is selfless. Lust is selfish.
Selflessness is defined as having or showing great concern for other people and little or no concern for yourself. Selfishness is the exact opposite of that. Now this doesn't mean by showing little concern for yourself you let someone else dictate your life, it just means that you don't put your needs above theirs. The correlation between lust and selfishness is a large part of why relationships become so stressful and full of anxiety. Selfishness can be as simple as always getting what you want and making your partner give in or as complex as manipulating them by taking advantage of their emotions. If you are attending to the needs of your significant other and find yourself always trying to sneak something in for yourself, that's not love. You and your partner can do great things for each other, but if the reason is to get something out of it, the action here isn't love. It's lust.
Love develops. Lust destroys.
Without love as the base for a relationship, chances are things aren't going to last. How many relationships do you know of that have succeeded with lust as the base? Probably not many if any at all. Love develops relationships into something greater, something with a purpose. Lust only tears down relationships over time. There's a common phrase for relationships that start to burn out after a month or so--being past the honeymoon stage. Nine times out of ten, those types of relationships are ones built off of the lustful desire for someone rather than love. Once that desire starts to fade, so does the relationship.
Love is of God. Lust is of the world.
Love is the best way to describe God. God is, by definition, love. Everything that He says and does is out of love. So when I say love is an important base for a relationship, I also mean God. Basing your relationship in that of the world almost always ends badly for both parties. God tells us that love is an action. The world tells us that love is a strong feeling that you get. God commands us to love. Feelings cannot be commanded, but actions can. Instead of looking at love as what you feel for someone, look at love as what you do for that person.
So next time you're looking to start a relationship, keep these things in mind. Make sure God and His definition of love are the strong foundation of your relationship. Love never fails.