What is the difference between being infatuated with someone and being in love?
We asked experts to provide some insights.
Table of Contents
- The image of the person in your mind
- Keeping it real
- Frantic versus steady
- Time separates love from infatuations
- Love is steady; infatuation is uncontrollable
- Love grows with time; infatuation dies down
- True love is unconditional; infatuation is an attachment
- Infatuation is about surface-level quality
- Love is more about a commitment that goes beyond your feelings
- Infatuation is infused with fantasy
- Love is reality and acceptance
- Infatuation is a superficial feeling
- Love is commitment
- I think of love as “reality television”, and I think of infatuation as “romantic comedies”
Dating Expert, Dating Scout
The image of the person in your mind
When you’re infatuated, all you see are the good things about the person. The praiseworthy aspects you admire. Whenever you think about them, you see a perfect being who you always want to see, listen to, and touch. You cannot wait to be in their presence.
When you’re in love, the image of the person deepens. You become aware of their bad side and still choose to love him or her, otherwise. You don’t see past these bad traits, rather you accept them. Whenever you think about them, you see how you both affect each other and how both of you can be good for one another.
Keeping it real
Have you noticed how you obsessively kept tabs on his or her ideal type? That is because the object of your infatuation becomes your ruler.
The way you talk, act, dress, and project yourself is in keeping with his or her wants. You bend over backward—and lose yourself in the process—trying to fit in the superficiality of it all.
When you’re in love, you let your true self shine. You talk, act, dress, and carry yourself as you would in front of family and friends. Unlike infatuation, what matters to love is your character and how it perfectly fits that of your significant other.
Frantic versus steady
While infatuation can be likened to a firework, bright and easily snuffed out, and love to a slow-burning campfire, steady and deep, the main difference between the two is how you act.
With infatuation, you are frantic. You are irrational and you have a lot of worries about the things that can possibly go wrong. You are ruled over by your strong emotions and hormones.
But when you are in love, you are much more grounded and steady. The relationship centers you. You know that what you have won’t easily get burned out. You have trust and deep certainty.
Time separates love from infatuations
Both trigger genuine emotions, but one main difference is the amount of time it lasts in your system. Infatuation includes an abrupt surge of feelings, while love requires timing and build up. Infatuation, as fast as it bit you, goes away after a while, while love lingers for a much longer time.
Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, LMFT, ATR
Licensed Psychotherapist | Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Create Your Life Studio
There are several differences between infatuation and love:
Infatuation happens fast, often instantly with instant chemistry and electricity. Time weakens it, the strongest time of infatuation is in the beginning. Whereas, Love happens over time, growing stronger every day. It builds and deepens day by day.
Infatuation makes you act without thinking and without much planning. Love helps you center and make decisions from the centered, wisest part of you.
Infatuation is to jealousy what love is to trust. Infatuation can be reckless and selfish, where love is more empathetic and considerate.
Infatuation brings people into a physical connection, and love brings people into a soul connection. Infatuation is youthful and capricious, love is ageless and steady. Infatuation is possessive and greedy.
Infatuation can be destructive and insatiable, whereas, love is content and appreciative. Love is giving and thoughtful. Infatuation burns out quickly, love is endless.
Love is steady; infatuation is uncontrollable
When we love someone, we do things for them in a calm way; we know what we are doing, and we could choose not to do it.
When we are infatuated with someone, we do things to them; the actions we want to take are an addictive pull, they are loaded with adrenaline, they are driven by a primitive animalistic urge that has bypassed logic – we stalk them; we contact them just to catch their attention; we do anything to get their validation of our existence.
From our perspective, apart from our object of infatuation, nothing else matters. From the perspective of an outsider, it is all about the attention we get from our object of infatuation.
Love grows with time; infatuation dies down
Love is based on a real person (i.e. who they really are), thus as we understand them layer by layer like an onion, we gradually accept them more and more to the core level.
Infatuation is based on an illusion of a person (i.e. who they are through our rose-tinted glasses), we want them to stay as who we have known them to be (including the rose tint we project onto them) and not change, thus as we get to know them more, they deviate more and more from our expectations, causing the infatuation to diminish.
True love is unconditional; infatuation is an attachment
In a one-way scenario, when we truly love someone, we want them to be happy even if they don’t respond to our love; with infatuation, we are addicted to their response; we may think we are willing to do everything for them selflessly, but we want them to know how “great” we are in return, their attention feeds us.
In a relationship, when we love our partner, we respect their needs even if it means they need to spend some time away from us; when we are infatuated with them, we want them to be with us 24/7.
Dr. Laura Louis
Licensed Psychologist, Atlanta Couple Therapy
Infatuation is about surface-level quality
The way you look, the way you dress, the car you drive, and other material things are prime examples of surface-level quality. Infatuation focuses on what that person can do for you.
Love is more about a commitment that goes beyond your feelings
Because feelings are subject to change from one day to the next. For example, you can feel good and loving towards your partner on Monday, but then feel angry at them the next day. You might question if you even want to be together with them.
Love is a commitment to daily actions such as honoring, respecting and showing kindness towards one another.
Related: What Does Falling in Love Feel Like?
Psychoanalyst | Clinical Psychologist
Infatuation is infused with fantasy
You’ve just met someone incredible and you’re over the moon. Your feelings are so strong, this must be “the one.” You want to be together all the time. It has to be love, right? Not necessarily. It’s definitely infatuation and infatuation isn’t love. At least, not yet.
Infatuation is infused with fantasy – your fantasies about who you want, think and hope this new love is. Infatuation can develop into love or the bubble of infatuation can also quickly burst as reality sets in.
Love is reality and acceptance
When you get to know someone over time, when you’re open to even their imperfections and you love them anyway (or even more), that’s being in love. And, then you know fantasies are great but the real person is even better.
Christian Relationship Coach | Founder, Wifey Bootcamp
People will go through the emotions of love and infatuation daily when they meet someone new. Both can intensify very quickly as you spend time with that person and become more familiar with who they are.
Many people confuse infatuation with love as they embark on a new journey with this person and it is totally understandable.
Infatuation is a superficial feeling
The foundation of infatuation is selfishness and is based on what the person can do for you and vice versa.
For example, you may be infatuated by how much money they make, how they wear the latest fashion, and drives the latest luxury car. Your infatuation is driven by what type of lifestyle they can provide for you.
Another example of infatuation is how a person looks. Your infatuation is driven by his height, build, eyes, skin color, and even hair color. Your infatuation is solely based on physical character traits.
You like the way he looks next to you and you put pressure on him to ensure that he keeps up his physical appearance. Infatuation is situational.
Love is commitment
Love will allow you to stick it out no matter how tough the situation or circumstances become. A person can lose their house, car, job and you’ll there to support them through the hardships.
Their physical attributes can change but love allows you to see the person’s soul and not judge them based on any physical flaws. Love stands the test of time.
Megan Cannon, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Owner, Back to Balance Counseling, LLC
I think of love as “reality television”, and I think of infatuation as “romantic comedies”
When watching reality tv, at some point, you’re going to laugh, cry, get mad, feel bored, and feel relaxed. If you’ve ever been in love before, chances are that you’ve experienced a similar wave of emotions during the process.
Experiencing these feelings may happen when watching a romantic comedy as well, but these movies end happily, with an unrealistic sense of perfection.
Infatuation presents itself as an intense, almost obsession with an illusion of perfection that we have created in our minds.
Love is an ongoing investment of time and energy, as is the investment in binge-watching reality tv. Infatuation, on the other hand, is very short-lived, as is the 90 minutes you spent watching a romantic comedy.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, MS, LCPC
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Certified Imago Relationship Therapist | Co-founder of The Marriage Restoration Project
Although people talk about love at first sight, romantic love is more infatuation than the mature and real love a couple cultivates with long-term relationships.
Real love is about giving and caring for another person while infatuation is often more self-focused, how I feel good and excited about the other person.
While it is normal for a relationship to start off with infatuation, that will not last. Also know that it is possible to achieve a deeper, long-lasting love with time, consciousness, and effort.
Certified Mental Health Consultant, Enlightened Reality | Relationship Expert, Maple Holistics
How to tell the difference between infatuation and love?
Infatuation is an obsession, an all-consuming preoccupation with a person that makes you lose all sense of logic and reason. Love is a more grounding feeling. It’s a sense of deep devotion and commitment, coupled with feelings of lust and passion.
Infatuation implies some selfishness to satisfy one’s own needs, whereas love involves selflessness and a desire to provide and care for another individual. With infatuation, a relationship will develop at a fast, intense pace, while with love it will develop healthily and gradually.
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