Love and infatuation are similar in some ways, but when you strip them back, they’re very different things.
They’re both strong emotions that you feel toward another person, and it can be easy to confuse them…
…but the nature of these emotions is not the same thing at all.
Simply put, being infatuated is being in that temporary state that most of us are familiar with when we’re totally swept away by our feelings.
We usually become infatuated with someone when a relationship is just beginning, and sexual chemistry is a big part of it.
Infatuation can mean we lose the ability to make good decisions, so blinded are we by the storm of hormones whirling around our minds and bodies.
You can also become infatuated with someone you aren’t having a sexual relationship with.
Just think of all those mad crushes you had as a teenager that took place entirely in your head.
On the other hand, love is when you feel a very strong affection for another person, which is usually reciprocated.
Now, don’t get me wrong, infatuation definitely isn’t always a bad thing.
If you accept it for what it is and don’t convince yourself you’re in love, then it can be a wonderful, thrilling, intense experience that you’ll look back on slightly in disbelief once it’s over.
It’s only when the line between love and infatuation becomes blurred that things can get complicated.
Although infatuation is often fleeting and temporary, and more often than not burns out, it can develop into love over time.
Unfortunately, some people rush into relationships or even marriage without giving the relationship the time it needs to develop.
Only when they’re in too deep do they realize that they weren’t ever truly in love, but just caught up with their feelings, unable to see clearly.
And remember, this development isn’t a two-way process. Love can’t develop into infatuation.
What’s more, infatuation isn’t a necessary stepping stone into love.
If two people meet and initially build a friendship rather than beginning a sexual relationship straight away, they can skip right past the infatuation stage and develop a real love for one another.
If you’re still struggling to get your head around where the line between love and infatuation lies, these key differences between the two should help to clear things up for you.
1. Infatuation is urgent, love is patient.
Infatuation is all about the present moment.
You need your fix of that person right now. They’re all you can think about.
You get anxious when they don’t respond to your messages right away.
It’s all very intense.
Love, on the other hand, means you trust, and you can relax, knowing that a night or a week apart isn’t the end of the world.
You don’t need their attention right this minute. You’re not entirely focused on the here and now, but looking forward to a future together.
2. Infatuation is young, love comes with age.
This is a generalization, and one can become infatuated at any age, but the overpowering feelings we feel as teenagers don’t often develop into true love.
We become obsessed with someone and they become the center of our world.
If you become infatuated with someone in later life, it can feel like you’re right back in high school, not knowing what to do or say, and not being able to think about anything else.
But, as we get older, it’s more likely that, provided that they’re the right person, infatuation will develop into love, rather than burning out.
3. Infatuation is flimsy, and love is committed.
If you’re simply infatuated with someone, that feeling can switch off from one day or one moment to the next.
Something they do or say can suddenly kill the desire you feel for them.
Love can’t be broken that easily.
Sure, there will always be issues to work through, but you’re committed to putting in the necessary effort, and your feelings can’t be turned off like a tap.
4. Infatuation is reckless, love is considered.
Infatuation can lead you to behave in ways that, in your right mind, would never even occur to you.
You make reckless, spur of the moment decisions, and everything can seem like it’s make or break.
Love is calmer. It doesn’t decide things on a whim. It takes time to make decisions, and is willing to slowly work toward a solution.
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5. Infatuation is selfish, love is selfless.
When you’re infatuated with someone, although it might seem like you’re obsessed with them, it’s actually all about you.
You want them to fulfil your needs and desires.
When you love someone, their needs are just as important as your own.
You consider their feelings before you act.
6. Infatuation is a rollercoaster, love is stable.
Being infatuated with someone can be pretty thrilling.
It’s a constant rollercoaster of emotions, and you never know when the highs and lows are coming.
You can feel utterly blissful, and then, five minutes later, utterly empty.
Love, on the other hand, shouldn’t be about high and lows.
Some people miss the thrill of infatuation when they’re in a stable relationship, but most of us learn to value the wonderful contentment and stability of true love.
7. Infatuation is temporary, and love can last forever.
Infatuation can hit you out of nowhere and become instantly all-consuming. It can last for a while, but it isn’t something you can sustain forever.
Love doesn’t have to last forever for it to be real. People can change.
But if you grow together, you may find that you love each other more and more as the years go by.
8. Infatuation is jealous, and love trusts.
This won’t always be true, but generally, people who are experiencing infatuation will feel pangs of jealousy.
Love should be based on trust, meaning there shouldn’t be room for jealousy between two people who genuinely love one another.
9. Infatuation is often physical, and love is much more.
Sometimes, you can’t quite explain why you fall for someone. But, generally, infatuation will start as a physical attraction, and may not develop beyond that.
Love, on the other hand, will involve some degree of physical attraction, but it’s the emotional and intellectual compatibility between you that will cause your bond to develop.
10. Absence makes infatuation fade, and love grow.
If you’re separated from the person you’re infatuated with, spending time apart and being a long distance from one another can mean those feelings weaken, or die out altogether.
It can be extremely upsetting when you first say goodbye, but you gradually forget about it and your mind moves on to other things.
In contrast, if it’s real love, then absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Feelings won’t fade; they will strengthen and develop.
11. Unlike infatuation, love brings out the best in you.
Think back on times you’ve been infatuated in the past. Have you ever done something you’re not proud of?
Did you read their text messages or emails?
Did you abandon all your friends so you could spend all of your time with the person?
Did you start neglecting your work?
Whereas infatuation can make you act in ways that go against your better judgement, if you’re in love, then that person brings out the best in you.
You think they’re pretty wonderful and you want to be worthy of their love, and they give you the strength you need to be the best version of yourself.
Is it love?
If there’s someone special in your life right now and you’re trying to put your finger on exactly what it is you’re feeling for them, you’re sure to have recognized your relationship in some of the points above.
The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. Listen to your gut, and trust it.
You can have a lot of fun when you’re infatuated with someone, and you can learn a lot about yourself…
…but if that’s what you’re feeling, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too much about the relationship or make big plans for the future.
Just enjoy it whilst it lasts.
It’s always best to protect yourself from potential heartbreak until you genuinely believe it might go somewhere.
If you still can’t figure out what it is you’re feeling, then a little time apart from the object of your affections should tell you everything you need to know.