Is it Love or Lust?

"Lovers with Flowers" by Oleg Zhivetin

“Blessed is the influence of one, true loving human soul on another.” – George Elliott

Human beings have always been in love with love, or at least the idea of it. It is an emotion that is difficult to define – prone to clichés and lusty panting in Red Rooms. The softer side of love, its true soul, is more challenging for a writer to communicate to their readers. Why is this so?

Perhaps, this is because humans are prone to negativity, fear, anxiety and all the adjectives and adverbs that present themselves so easily to describe these emotions. Our natural tendencies seem to go in the direction of chaos and upheaval. Many people like to read about these subjects, so the writers who can create these novels provide what their fan base wants: dark, turbulent stories of murder and mayhem. We are entertainers, after all, and there is nothing wrong with filling this need.

I think it is much more difficult to find the words that describe love because it is often unquantifiable. I am referring here to love as a positive, uplifting emotion. You know when you have it, but may grasp for the words to define it. And have modern day readers and writers, at least in some books I’ve read recently, not confused love with lust? Lust is the hot emotion that courses through a character’s veins, driving them to all manner of indiscretions. We could use many of the same words to describe hate, the powerful force behind many poor decisions. Maybe lust is the true opposite of hate.

Love is different. Love is the emotion that takes over the whole body, the heart and soul. As such, maybe it clouds our brains and makes the search for description more elusive. We know what it feels like, but we struggle to find the exact word in the same way we can’t remember what we were looking for or why we walked into that room in our home. We stand in the center of the room feeling foolish, even though we’re alone and no one knows.

Love often makes us silly. It makes us laugh at nothing, and sing when we are tone deaf. Maybe this is the easiest way for a writer to communicate love, by describing the by-product. Unrequited love brings tears in the dark and poetry on napkins, but rarely a vendetta. Leave that story line to lust.

There is nothing silly about lust. It is a primal need, an animal desire that begs to be quenched. It can drive a man mad and mess up the best-laid plans. It can distract and consume.

I want to read about love in all its manifestations. The best story I’ve read recently was about a dad taking his daughter fishing. Readers need this story and others like it, full of sweetness and family. The words of love can be soft, woven into a tapestry of feeling that doesn’t need to shout. The words can whisper.

Write me a love story. Write me a poem. Write me a lyric that makes my heart skip a beat and you will own me forever. Here are some of my favorite quotations of love. Enjoy!

“Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breath and to love you.” – The Hollies

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you … I could walk through my garden forever.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.” – Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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L. A. Lewandowski is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novel, Born To Die – The Montauk Murders. For more information, please see the IU Bio Page and her 



Author: L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her novels, Born to Die-The Montauk Murders, A Gourmet Demise, and My Gentleman Vampire, giving readers a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Lois lives in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

19 thoughts on “Is it Love or Lust?”

  1. Awesome post, maybe I'm just a pushover, but great post.

    One of my favorites is the Beatles song "The End" authored by Paul McCartney …

    "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

    I get chills every time I hear that.

    1. After reading the first two "Fifty Shades of Grey" I decided the author was very confused about the difference between love and lust. She tried to make it a love story, but she never succeeded. Lust was well captured, love – not so much!

      I like a man who says he is a pushover for love. 🙂

  2. It was those feelings I used to express teh book I wrote. Love is the precious intangible feeling the human can feel. It can't be weighed, analyzed or measured. It can be misconstured, unrecognizable, and elusive. That is what makes it so intense and wonderful. It grabs hold of soul and encompasses the mind. It is the only emotion capable of testing human resolve and wanting.

    1. Love is also unselfish. You stop thinking about yourself and think about what is good for another person. Lust is selfish, perhaps because of the pleasure it brings.

      I didn't talk about unrequited love in this post, that would certainly run over the recommended word count. That would be where the physical pain of heartbreak and loneliness can test a human, as you say.

      Thanks for your comments.

  3. Beautiful post. And to your point that "Readers need this story and others like it, full of sweetness and family" — as one of those readers and a writer of mostly such stories, thank you for saying it out loud.

  4. Sometimes I think we fancy ourselves too worldly and cynical for stories about love. Lust is easier — you don't have to get as emotionally invested.

    It takes a deft touch to write a love scene that's neither corny nor melodramatic, and I salute those who try. 🙂

  5. Hi Lynne,

    You are right. Love often causes the jaded to roll their eyes. The ability to avoid the corny and communicate this most tender feeling is challenging. Lust is more modern, more savvy, what more people confuse for love. Not the same thing by a long shot.

    That said, I like a little sex if it fits the character, scene, etc. But, when a writer can describe love as those masters did above, I am in awe.

  6. Perfectly said. And eloquently, too.


    Actually, this reminded me of one of my favorite quotes on the subject from Shakespeare: "Love comforteth like sunshine after rain, But lust's effect is tempest after sun."

  7. I've always thought that true love stories were about 'you, you, you' instead of 'me,me,me' so your comment :

    "Love is also unselfish. You stop thinking about yourself and think about what is good for another person. Lust is selfish, perhaps because of the pleasure it brings." rings true to me and explains why I tend to dislike 'romance' novels as a general rule.

    Great post!

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