What is the difference between love and desire

  • Jan 13, 2022
What is the difference between love and desire

Do we really know what the difference is between love and desire? On the one hand, love is considered a feeling of affection that implies a deep emotional bond. Feeling love for a person means genuinely cherishing him, without expecting anything in return. However, desire is a sexual impulse motivated by physical attraction to another person, which is based on the search for pleasure and sexual satisfaction.

However, love and desire are not mutually exclusive concepts. There are relationships with love, others in which the desire of physical attraction is shared and, finally, bonds in which there is love and desire in equal parts. So that you know how to correctly identify these two conditions, in this Psychology-Online article we clarify what is the difference between love and desire.

You may also like: The 11 differences between love and infatuation


  1. Weather
  2. Depth
  3. Duration
  4. Commitment
  5. Date of Expiry
  6. Protagonist
  7. Fun
  8. intentions
  9. Family and friends
  10. Compatibility


If you ask yourself "How do you know if it's love or just desire?" Studying the amount of time you dedicate to that person with whom you share the relationship is essential. The creation of

deep emotional bond that characterizes love takes time, since it is being built with patience, affection and mutual respect.

Conversely, desire is an impulse that is born immediately before an external stimulus that seems exciting or attracts us. In addition, the consummation of the desire usually occurs immediately upon experiencing this feeling. Therefore, it does not require a longer period of time as it happens with love.

What is the difference between love and desire - Time


In the case of love, it seeks to create a strong and durable bond which implies delving into one's own feelings and emotions and that of the other person. This means truly getting to know your partner, their fears and vulnerabilities, while also letting your authentic self show through. Perhaps this moment will be difficult for you at first and you find it hard to express your feelings, but you will learn a lot about the relationship and your partner.

However, in the case of desire, the connection that is needed to carry out the sexual impulse is superficial. Since an emotional bond is not required to have sexual relations and achieve sexual satisfaction. Therefore, it could be said that love is a deep feeling and desire a shallow feeling.


Another difference between love and desire is that, as mentioned above, love requires time to build. Therefore, love is continuous, prolonged and slow. That is, we do not fall in love with someone for the simple fact of perceiving physical attraction, but rather the relationship needs perseverance and affection so that you really know the other person and they also know who you are.

While desire, on the other hand, does not require time because just being attracted to the other person is enough. Which defines desire as fleeting, sudden and quick.

What is the difference between love and desire - Duration


Commitment implies an agreement between two people who decide to stay together. In love, if there is that commitment that allows establishing rules in the relationship and giving a name to what they have formed together. Therefore, the affective responsibility it becomes one of the fundamental pillars that sustain the relationship.

However, the desire does not require a commitment, since it is not necessary to label anything to maintain sudden sexual intercourse. In this type of relationship in which the fleeting nature of passion plays an important role, we can identify cases in which interpersonal relationships are treated with a certain superficiality, often for a great fear of commitment.

However, the lack of commitment in a relationship does not imply betrayal or the lie in our article How to lead a relationship without commitment We explain how to have this type of bond by being honest with ourselves and with the other person with whom we share time.

Date of Expiry.

In this list of differences between love and desire, this point especially stands out, since, when we build love, we don't think about the end. That is to say, being in a type of relationship that we constantly take care of and to which we dedicate quality time, we do not think that it will ever end. On the contrary, our efforts are aimed at improving and building this link.

This is because love grows progressively over time; whereas, in the case of desire, on the contrary, we are aware that it has a early end date. Since the desire, once it has been satisfied, vanishes.


When we think of love, and we have to identify a protagonist or main person, the other person comes to mind. genuinely, we want that person to feel happiness. For this reason, it arises spontaneously for us to dedicate our care, our attention and we are happy for his achievements.

But, when we think about desire, without a doubt, the protagonist is ourselves and our feelings. Since, we seek self-satisfaction by achieving sexual pleasure. However, there must be a mutual agreement so that the other person with whom you share this pleasant experience knows exactly your intentions and you both enjoy it equally.

What is the difference between love and desire - Protagonist


When we feel love for another person we want to share time together and have fun, both in sexual relations and through other leisure activities or activities of interest to both of us. In this case, there is a need to share a wide variety of experiences because it is about your partner is a life partner and not just a lover.

But when we desire someone sexually, only We are looking for that person to have sexual fun. That is, when we want to have sex and get sexual satisfaction. Now, the other person must know your intentions so that both of you are aware of the type of relationship you want and the purpose of your meetings.


To understand what love and desire are, you have to take into account what is intended in the relationship. In the first case, the intentions we have when we fall in love with another person can be very diverse, but all go beyond sex. For example, we intend to find someone to support us, who understands us and cares about us and vice versa.

Also, we can seek to live with that person, and even form a family. However, the only intention we have when we want someone is to have sex and get sexual pleasure what we want

Family and friends.

When there is love between two people, it is sought integrate the couple in our closest environment so that it ends up being part of our life and of the group of people that we consider family. This has to do with the intention of getting to know our partner and for her to get to know us in a deeper way.

On the contrary, when we feel desire for someone, the last thing we want is for them to meet our family and friends to prevent an unnecessary link from being generated with said person; which is consistent if we remember that relationships without commitment have the main objective of feeling sexual pleasure.

What is the difference between love and desire - Family and friends


When we fall in love with another person we are interested in knowing their tastes and interests to see if they complement ours. That is to say, we think long term, wanting to know if that person for whom we feel love can fit in with us. If in your case you want to find out the consonance you have with your partner, do our Love test and couple compatibility.

In the case of desire, the opposite happens, we are not interested in knowing the other person beyond the sexual sphere. As that would imply deepening in said relationship and, we remember, the fundamental intention of this type of relationship is to share moments of fun and pleasure.

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is the difference between love and desire, we recommend that you enter our category of Feelings.


  • Gala, f. J., M. Lupiani, C. Guillén, A. Gómez, A. Bernalte, R. Raja,... & Lupiani, N. (2005). Desire and love: the unfinished man. Journals of Psychosomatic Medicine, 74, 30-45. Available in: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Francisco-Gala/publication/28099907_El_deseo_y_el_amor_el_hombre_inacabado/links/56f948d308ae7c1fda311457/El-deseo-y-el-amor-el-hombre-inacabado.pdf
  • Echeverria-Lozano, A. (2017). Sexual desire in young people from Mexico City: love vs. pleasure. Journal of Behaviour, Health & Social Issues, 9(2), 45-53. Available in: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S200707801830004X
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