Lust is superficial, love is rooted in substance.
It can be easy to get caught up in the nuance of what is new, what is pretty, what seems like the most attractive option, to a point where it is distracting from what is real and what is best for you and your happiness. I've been confronted by this lesson time and time again over the years, in my professional life, in my school life, especially in dating and relationships. It can be so easy to mistake lust for love, that we become blind to how misleading it really can be.
I was accepted into a nationally ranked graduate school program that would have cost more than it was actually worth, and I kept fighting for it, regardless of how truly impractical it was and how difficult it would have been for me, financially. I was illusioned and kept justifying it to fill a void of insecurities. If I went, then I must be a worthwhile person. I was caught up in all the certification programs, how beautiful the school was, and how I would be close by to all my favorite museums, being surrounded by all sorts of coffee shops. I didn't think of the repercussions of actually going which, in reality, would have involved burying myself in loans for a profession I was not in love with.
I know my purpose involves helping people, advocating for those who can't advocate for themselves and fostering creativity in all areas of my life, in my writing, my art, and my approach to life. I can fulfill my purpose without mortgaging my future and my life away, for a degree in a field I was settling for. I am grateful to my parents and my best friends for being patient with my process. I do reach complete disillusionment, eventually.
I was forced to confront this very same lesson when I got involved with individuals who did not know what they wanted, for their future, their careers, or their relationships. I felt strung along and the overall uncertainty was far more triggering than I wished it to be. I was infatuated by the idea of having someone, even if it meant settling for someone who was not right for me. I was in lust with the idea of love, instead of just being in love with a person I generally liked and enjoyed; in lust with a fantasy of an idea of love.
Thankfully, I was forced to come to my senses when my roommate told me she saw the guy who had been blowing me off and stringing me along for months, on Tinder. That same night, I set up a Tinder account to see for myself, though I had been terrified by that dating app and its association with hookup culture. After setting up my profile, I matched with someone who has become both my friend and my boyfriend. He knew what he wanted, which was an exclusive relationship, and the uncertainty issue was no longer prevalent, at least not with us, for which I am so grateful.
Lust does not always relate to feelings for another person. It's possible to become in lust with ideas: ideas of people, ideas of what could be, ideas of what could have been, ideas of how it could be if one variable was changed, or if someone had been different than they actually are, and the list goes on. Lust is a form of infatuation, and eventually, the glamor fades away, and if you don't like what you see, then you really need to re-evaluate the situation, and possibly even yourself.
Lust never lasts; it is based on floating fantasies and short-term solutions. Love, however, takes work, takes time, takes effort; it is a process rooted in substance, which, at the end of the day, makes it worthwhile in the long-run.