Experiencing romantic feelings and emotions is a beautiful part of the human experience, but how can you tell the difference between love and infatuation? Understanding the power of these emotions and how to differentiate between them might help you avoid serious heartbreak or embarrassment when searching for your soulmate. Both emotions make us feel excited, happy, and even hopeful. Love is deep, but infatuation is more superficial and based on physical appearance and excitement. For your well-being, it’s important to reflect on your emotions and correctly identify them.
To help you out, we’ll cover some of the easiest ways to tell the difference between love and infatuation. We’ve included advice for when you find yourself (or someone you know) trying to figure out your feelings for someone else. Plus, we’ll explore whether or not feelings of infatuation are bad. If you’re looking for that love story you’ve seen in the movies, remember that those are fictional stories. Now let’s talk about our feelings!
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Even if you can’t tell the difference between love and infatuation yet, quality time together is still one of the most important things you can do to keep your relationship healthy. If you need ideas for some new experiences together, grab a copy of Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition! Our book is filled with dozens of engaging activities. Just select a scratch-off adventure, commit to completing it, and start making incredible memories together.
Depth of Love
Love has substance and depth, so it’s more than just a feeling. It’s a set of behaviors and emotions that circle around commitment, intimacy, and trust. Love has many layers and takes time to develop. You’re making a decision to put someone else’s needs before your own. The intensity can change over time and covers a range of feelings.
Love is influenced by biology and culture. Hormones do play a role, but so much else influences who we love as well. It’s one of the most important emotions that humans experience, and it evolves so much in its life cycle. Most of the feelings are positive, like comfort, excitement, happiness, and euphoria, but love can also result in jealousy, heartbreak, and stress. It’s much deeper than just initial physical attraction.
Limits of Infatuation
Infatuation is a strong feeling of attraction and fixation. Romantic comedies make “love at first sight” such a romantic concept, but really, it’s just infatuation. This intense emotion is based more on the physical attraction and surface-level understanding of who this person is. If you’re feeling infatuation, you’re attracted to someone you don’t know very well and likely have fantasies about who this person is. It’s not a deep emotion, but it can be very strong. You’ll be thinking about this person all the time and become obsessed with the idea of being with them.
People who are infatuated with someone will use some of the cliche terms, like the “perfect match” or “ideal partner.” In reality, they don’t know the person well enough to really say that. It’s easy to get distracted by physical attraction, but that can blind people from seeing some of the red flags and signs that the feelings could be problematic. It also boils down to the excitement of the chase.
Infatuation can be extremely selfish. You’ll get a rush of good feelings in the moment when you fantasize about the other person or get moments of attention. But in reality, the fantasy you’re creating will be impossible for the person to ever live up to. If you aren’t willing to compromise, there will be no chance of a future with them.
How to Tell The Difference Between Love and Infatuation
Don’t worry, though. When it comes to love vs. infatuation, there are some clear signs to look for. Give yourself time to process things, and be honest about what you’re feeling. Consider these pieces of advice, and ask yourself some of the tough questions about what you’re really going through.
Pay attention to the physical signs.
There are physical signs of infatuation and physical signs of love if you just pay close enough attention. Biology plays a role in these emotions thanks to the hormones and neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin. Physical attraction is real and can give you the feeling of falling head over heels, but that’s likely infatuation. Yes, the hormones make us feel incredible, but it’s just a chemical high. This will reduce in intensity. Love takes time and involves getting to know the other person and making a commitment to them.
Those feelings of longing, anticipation, and heightened arousal are physical signs of infatuation. You might find yourself giggling more and acting differently than you normally do. These signs can also be associated with love, but you’ll be more content and comfortable. You’ll feel more like yourself.
Notice how you engage with warning signs or red flags.
You might believe it was love at first sight, but it’s very common for people to be blinded in new relationships. Physical attraction is powerful and can make it hard to recognize red flags or warning signs the first time you spend time with someone. People will reveal themselves to you, but if you’re infatuated, you might find yourself brushing aside those warning signs and not listening to them. It’s important for you to keep your eyes open—red flags can cause a lot of hurt and discomfort down the road.
Identify the role of perfection.
No one is perfect. As humans, we learn to accept each other’s flaws because we all have them. Love is all about accepting those flaws and who the other person is. Infatuation often deals with idealization. If you are infatuated with someone, you view them as perfect and don’t see them for who they really are. There’s more fantasizing and filling in the gaps with your own version of who they are.
It goes the other way around, too. If you’re experiencing infatuation, you might be concerned with impressing the other person and coming off as perfect to them. It can cause you to be someone you aren’t just to make a good impression. But that won’t lead to a long, healthy relationship—you need to be real.
Check in with yourself.
Pay attention to your feelings. What are you feeling when you’re around the other person? Is it a deep feeling of affection and care, or is it a more superficial feeling of attraction? Both infatuation and love can be intense emotions, but if you step back and look for an actual emotional connection, you’ll be able to recognize love.
Self-awareness is important for your mental health. Work toward being able to look at situations and ask yourself if there is a possibility of building a deeper connection or if everything is superficial. Do you actually know things about this person, or is all of your information from social media and things you’ve learned from mutual friends? Real feelings of love will help you open up to each other, and the relationship will feel more equal and mutually reciprocated.
Watch for obsessive behaviors.
Infatuation is often accompanied by a feeling of craving the other person. You become obsessed with impressing them and getting their attention. With love and healthy relationships, you’ll feel satisfaction instead of craving. True love won’t leave you yearning for more because it’s about partnership and building deeper connections. Ultimately, it will be more fulfilling and encourage healthy behaviors.
If you find yourself pining over someone and obsessing about their every movement, you are likely dealing with infatuation. Obsessive behaviors can be destructive and unhealthy, so it’s important to recognize those behaviors if they start.
See how deep your feelings go.
Intense feelings can be confusing, and it’s easy to see why many people mix up infatuation with love. Before you say, “I love you” to someone, figure out how deep your strong feelings actually go. Love means not holding back any piece of yourself and being ready to share the good and the bad. Infatuation focuses more on the way we look, dress, and behave. Love goes so much deeper than what you can see on the outside. It’s about acceptance and commitment. You learn about each other and share a deeper side of yourselves that most people don’t get to see. Do you feel like you’re ready for that?
Are you thinking about the future together or alone?
Love will have you thinking about long-term commitments and goals together. What are you looking for in a relationship? If you’re thinking about being committed to the person for a long time and planning your future together, you’re probably in love. Infatuation is more about the moment and having a fun, exciting fling. Infatuation can also have you planning and fantasizing about what your future could look like with this person, but it’s not a conversation that you’re having together. Daydreaming about what your children might look like or envisioning yourself on a tropical beach with this person is one thing, but sitting down and having serious conversations with them about your relationship is what real love looks like.
If you find yourself thinking about the future but aren’t comfortable speaking with the person you have feelings for, that should be a red flag itself. It’s important to plan together and compromise on your vision instead of just making up dream scenarios in your head.
Talk to your close friends and family.
Sometimes, it’s really hard to recognize the difference between love and infatuation when you’re having new feelings. It’s always a good idea to talk to someone you trust. If you’re still not sure how you feel, talk to your best friend, family member, loved one, or therapist. They can help you understand your feelings and make a decision about your future. They’re able to recognize strange new behaviors in you because they know you. Confide in those who know you, and tell them you’re unsure about your feelings.
Step back and reflect.
If you’ve worked through all the pieces of advice above and are still unsure whether you are in love or infatuated, the best thing to do is take some time for yourself. Think about what you really want in a relationship. Taking time away from the person can help you organize your feelings and see things more clearly. Many people who are infatuated spend so much concentrated time with the person, and when they aren’t together, they’re obsessing over them. By stepping back, you’ll be able to give yourself some space to figure out what you might be missing.
Healthy and Unhealthy Doses of Infatuation
Infatuation isn’t always a negative. It can often be the beginning of a beautiful love story. It’s just important for people to recognize the difference between love and infatuation when starting romantic relationships. Having a relationship based only on infatuation may lead to heartbreak and disappointment. Instead, take the physical attraction and work to see if there’s something deeper that you can build off of it.
Extreme infatuation can be unhealthy. The behaviors of someone who is infatuated with someone else can be concerning. It can become an obsession, and people may completely alter or hide parts of themselves to appear “perfect” to the person they are interested in. It’s not good for your mental health to crave someone’s attention.
Infatuation, the Beginning of Love
Infatuation can turn into real romantic love. Many times, the object of your infatuation will not reciprocate your feelings. Sometimes, you’ll leave the infatuation stage and see the signs that you might have missed during the “honeymoon phase.” For feelings of infatuation to become a special and requited love, you’ll need to be able to put aside the fantasy you created, accept the faults and imperfections of the person, and be willing to be vulnerable.
Many love stories begin with infatuation because that initial attraction brings people together. But love is so much more than physical attraction, so there needs to be a deeper connection between two people for love to form. It isn’t instant.
On the other hand, infatuation doesn’t happen for everyone. Many relationships grow slowly, starting with a friendship and building from that. You can absolutely have love without experiencing infatuation, just like you can experience infatuation without ever falling in love with that person.
Final Thoughts on the Difference Between Love and Infatuation
Infatuation can be present in the beginning stages of falling in love, but it should be a feeling that comes and goes quickly. Once a connection begins to form, it’s important to build a strong foundation of honesty and trust with each other. Then infatuation can turn into love. Intense feelings built solely on physical attraction and chemistry are normal but should not consume your entire existence. That’s when infatuation becomes unhealthy. Taking space to understand your feelings and talking to those who are close to you are ways to help you stay in check and ensure that your feelings are moving toward love and away from infatuation.
These pieces of advice offer you some help when you need to understand the difference between love and infatuation. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself falling in love with the right person and find the mutual respect and admiration that comes with it. Enjoy quality time together, and make sure you’re removing any filters and walls you put up to let people get to know exactly who you are and fall in love.
Frequently Asked Questions
The difference between love and infatuation can be murky. They’re both intense emotions, but love will feel satisfying and comfortable, whereas infatuation leaves you craving more and a bit on edge.
Everyone knows love differently, but if you’re making plans for the future together, that’s a good sign. Loving a person means knowing their faults and loving them regardless.
The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever, but spending quality time with your partner and trying new experiences together can help keep things interesting. Adventures From Scratch can help you there.
The difference between love and infatuation boils down to longevity and depth. Infatuation is based mainly on physical appearance and superficial information. Love is deeper and more long-lasting.
The difference between love and infatuation is that love can grow and develop into a long-term commitment. Infatuation is typically short-lived, and it can create unhealthy habits if you don’t move on.