Love vs Infatuation: What’s the Difference?

Romantic Couple about to Kiss - Couple Passionately Kissing - 2

We’ve all been there. It’s that phase early in the relationship (or, in some cases, situationship) when it’s all about the person you’re seeing, and they consume your every thought. You begin your days checking for their text, and you end the day creating romantic scenarios in your head so that you can peacefully fall asleep.

But the thing is, it’s most likely not love. You’ve probably just caught a case of bad infatuation, and if you’re not careful, you could be headed down a slippery slope of obsession.

Typically, in the beginning stages of infatuation, it can feel a lot like falling head over heels in love with the person. Everything still feels fresh and exciting, and it’s like a powerful combination of lust and exhilaration.

Infatuation often happens very quickly and is most often focused on a strong desire, attraction, admiration, or some other form of fantasy about how perfect a person is. Because of this, infatuation never lasts. Once you get to genuinely know a person for who they are, those feelings tend to fade away.

This isn’t to say that this individual isn’t your twin flame, soulmate, or whatever other label you want to use. Infatuation can manifest into love, but it’s equally important to understand that the two are not mutually exclusive. The latter involves a deeper experience of emotional attachment, care, and interest in a partner. Love needs to evolve as you develop an intimate, meaningful relationship together.

So, we’ll look at love and infatuation and break down the differences and where the two often intersect.

Love vs Infatuation

Simply put, infatuation is that hot and steamy butterfly in the stomach, sparks flying feeling you get around someone you like. It’s not based on any real connection or even reality, for that matter. It’s possible to be infatuated with someone you recently met. It could be someone who caught your eye from across the street, that hottie you follow on social media, or someone you recently started dating. It’s a fantasy of that person you’ve built up inside your head.

Infatuation is signing up for dating apps like eHarmony and Elite Singles and falling “in love” after seeing their pictures and reading their bio.

On the other hand, love grows over time and involves a level of intimacy. The most significant difference is really about how well you know a person and how much of a bond you both have with each other. When you’re genuinely in love, it’s typically with someone with whom you’re developing a relationship in a profound way. It’s a shared connection with a person you’re passionate about.

The Signs of Infatuation

It can sometimes be challenging to differentiate between love and infatuation, especially if you grew up watching rom-coms and Disney movies. These feelings may seem similar to one another, but love is more profound and continues to grow as a result of time and trust. Infatuation is a faster burn that often resembles an intense crash-and-burn type of crush. But still, it can be challenging to differentiate between the two.

Are you still struggling to determine your feelings? If you’re experiencing the following feelings, it’s likely infatuation and not love.

1. You’re Obsessed with Someone You Don’t Know Very Well

Love at first sight, may exist—but then again, it may not. However, if you’re feeling all those intense emotions early with a romantic interest, especially when there hasn’t been a meaningful or established connection yet, it’s a sign you’re infatuated.

Generally, when someone is infatuated, they don’t know them very well as an individual. They’re too busy focusing on their physical appearance, so they aren’t attached to them in a meaningful way.

One example of this is feeling like you must be around that person rather than simply wanting to be with them. If there’s an ache in your stomach and sweat in your palms, don’t panic! You don’t have some mysterious, undiagnosed disease.

2. You Feel like They’re Perfect in Every Way and Can Do No Wrong

Infatuation is more along the lines of obsession than love. Maybe you see your romantic interest behind rose-colored glasses, or perhaps you just haven’t spent enough time with them to see their flaws. Either way, when you put your crush on a pedestal, it’s a sign that you’re in intense infatuation.

On the other hand, love is understanding that your partner is not perfect, and you accept them for all their imperfections just as they do yours.

3. You Experience Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Sometimes people have physical symptoms when they see or think about someone. You have butterflies fluttering in your stomach. You blush and can even start to sweat. You feel excited and giddy all the time, and you have no idea what’s wrong with you. Take a deep breath and relax because these are all symptoms of infatuation.

4. Your Discussions Are Only Surface-Level

By nature, infatuation involves only a surface-level connection with someone. This means you have yet to develop deeper, more intense conversations. You may have a difficult time having a strong bond not only because the relationship is brand new but also because you’re scared (subconsciously or consciously) to destroy the idea of this individual you’ve probably already built up in your mind.

The Signs of Love

You’ve most likely heard the entire “when you know, you know” spiel, but guess what? That isn’t always the case. Let’s dig deeper into the topic. After all, love is all about going deeper, right?

Do you still need more clarification? No worries, that’s what we’re here for, so let us explain further. If you’re experiencing the following feelings, you’re likely in love.

1. Your Bond Feels Like It’s Slowly and Gradually Growing

You’ve heard this before, but your relationship might be the real deal if it doesn’t burn hot and quickly. Instead, your connection gradually increases on a foundation of trust, compatibility, and emotional vulnerability.

Love often develops over time. As you slowly get to know a person on a deeper, more profound level, you begin to see them for who they genuinely are instead of the “ideal person” you built up in your head. You start seeing their imperfections, vulnerabilities, and insecurities, and you accept them. Love is much longer-lasting than the short, passionate stage of infatuation.

2. You Have Emotional, Deep Discussions

Love occurs as you get to know someone on a more intimate and intense level. You begin having more emotional discussions with this person and attempt to get to know them on a less shallow level, as opposed to superficial information that can lead to infatuation (ex, looks, career, kind of car they drive).

Once the shallowness fades away and the connection starts to build on what matters, you have begun to fall in love.

When you start to truly hear out your partner, talking about tough topics like the future and finances becomes much more manageable. As you get to know your partner on a deeper level, you begin sharing your insecurities and vulnerabilities and find mutual acceptance about the most challenging topics.

Couple talking together with a view of their kitchen in the background

3. You Feel Safe around Them

When you’re able to build a deep connection via intimate discussions and a foundation of respect and trust, you’re also able to feel secure around them. This feeling often equates to love.

If, after the honeymoon phase, the relationship stays together, it will often move into the next stage of attached togetherness. This phase is characterized by a safe and secure connection based on mutual respect, love, and care.

4. When You Break Up, It Isn’t Easy to Move On

One thing about infatuation is that no matter how intense those feelings are, once you’re out of it, you can bounce back fairly quickly. You may even move on and become infatuated with someone else. The same thing can’t be said for love.

At some point, most of us have been in love with someone before, and when we break up, we’re not moving on to the next person quickly. It’s never easy to fall out of love with someone. When we love someone and break up, it can take months and years to get over it completely. This is not a characteristic of simple infatuation.

Can Infatuation Ever Turn into Love?

The answer to this question isn’t a clear-cut yes or no. It’s more like a flip of a coin. Infatuation is rarely built on fact but instead on fantasy. So whether a person can turn one into the other depends on what’s lying below the surface.

When two people are infatuated with one another and are interested in exploring a relationship, they could transition into a phase of being in a meaningful relationship or, yes, falling in love. But to make that happen, both parties should get to know one another on a much deeper level. They’d need to move away from their fantasy of who they think the other person is and what their life could look like together. But how do you do this?

Don’t allow yourself to succumb to the feelings of infatuation fully. No one is perfect, and when you set yourself up in a relationship thinking that someone is perfect, it may keep the connection from progressing into love because you’re stuck in that infatuation mode.

Dating experts suggest reminding yourself of your crush’s human side, which encompasses all their imperfections. If you can get out of that they’re perfect rut, over time, you’ll be able to see if your relationship with this person is authentic. You’ll also be able to determine if your connection to them is genuine and if you feel like you’re compatible with them. But this only happens if you can accept all their flaws and insecurities.

We get it; infatuation can be fun and exhilarating, especially in the early phase of a relationship. Often, it’s inevitable, but you want to avoid getting stuck there. If you’re searching for long-lasting real love, infatuation may be the thing standing in your way.

Start challenging yourself and those idealized thoughts about your significant other. Begin having deeper conversations and learning more about who they are. This can be as simple as having regular dates or inviting them to join you in some of the things you enjoy doing. Whatever you do, use that time to open up and go a little deeper, and who knows, you just might end up finding the love of your life.

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