Am I in love or infatuated? Almost everyone on the planet has struggled with this age-old question at one point or another in their life. Everyone is looking for love but they have no clue what it is supposed to feel like. This is the base of all confusion. How can you differentiate between simply liking someone and being in love with them?
Well, we’ve consulted with clinical psychologist Devaleena Ghosh (M.Res, Manchester University), founder of Kornash: The Lifestyle Management School, who specializes in couples counseling and family therapy to bring you some expert insights on this dilemma. So, let’s get started on unraveling your complex feelings.
Am I In Love Or Infatuated: 17 Key Differences
It’s very normal to ask the question, “How do I know if I’m in love or infatuated?”, and figuring out the answer is essential to the success of any relationship. Just because things feel perfect doesn’t mean that they are. That’s what happens with infatuation, your relationship is amazing because you’re living in a bubble of new experiences. You’re floating around in the honeymoon phase. It’s only later that you realize that you had nothing in common with him or her, the entire illusion comes undone.
Devaleena says, “When talking about partner relationships, love has a long-term goal. On the other hand, infatuation can be more need-based or stem out of practicality.”
This leads to a lot of wasted time, energy, and emotions. That’s why you wanting to know whether you’re in love or just infatuated is very normal. To help you on this trip, here are 17 differences between love and infatuation:
1. It’s infatuation: You can’t stay away from each other for even a second
If you’re looking for signs he is infatuated with you, then his constant need to be around you is a pretty good indicator. When you’re infatuated with someone, your feelings are more like an irresistible craving. It’s kind of obsessive where you can’t get them out of your mind and you just want more time with them. If you’ve noticed this in their behavior or yours, then it’s infatuation and not love.
2. It’s love: You’re comfortable giving each other space
When you love someone, you trust them to be loyal to you. You have faith in their feelings for you, and that’s why you know that no matter how far they go, they will always come back to you. This is why long-distance relationships are possible. That’s why when it comes to signs it’s love and not infatuation, the comfort in individual space is a key differentiator. Where there is love there is room for both of you to grow and develop individually.
Related Reading: How Much Space In A Relationship Is Normal? Balance Is Key!
3. It’s infatuation: You’re chasing an ideal relationship
“Am I in love or infatuated?” If you’re looking for an answer to this question, taking a look at your view of the relationship can help. Cam, my childhood friend, was going through a phase of uncertainty in her relationship. After a lot of thought, she realized that she was constantly disappointed by her relationship because she was stuck in her unrealistic idea of relationships. She wanted the relationship to be something right out of a movie and that’s why she kept turning down anything that indicated otherwise.
To find an answer to “how do I know if I’m in love or infatuated”, you need to examine your expectations when you date someone. Relationships are complex and they develop as you go. If you’re chasing an ideal relationship, then you aren’t in love with your SO. You’re just infatuated with them. They’re just a means to an end for your ultimate goal, which is to have a relationship. You may like them but you don’t love them.
4. It’s love: Your expectations about your relationship are realistic
Every relationship has its problems and all you can do is accept that. In the end, we’re people and people make mistakes. If you’re looking for signs it’s love and not infatuation, then take a closer look at what you expect out of your relationship. If you understand that on most days your relationship will be simple and that not every day will be filled with chocolates and roses, then you are in love.
It’s obvious when you think about it. If things have gotten boring and you’re still committed to one and another, then it is purely because of your strong feelings which can never be mere infatuation.
Related Reading: 12 Realistic Expectations In A Relationship
5. It’s infatuation: You want a perfect soulmate
From the moment you see a person, if you think they’re perfect, then it’s a sign that you are infatuated. Being infatuated puts blinders on your rationality and you think that you’re dating the most flawless person on the planet. You start ignoring all the flaws and even the red flags.
All so that you can save your feelings because you know that the moment you accept their flaws, your emotions will go away. In infatuation, you’re attracted to the idea of a person not who they truly are. If you notice this in a guy’s behavior toward you, it is a sign that he is infatuated with you. And if you’re displaying a similar pattern, then you are too.
Devaleena points out, “In infatuation, people don’t see the other person as a human. They are caught up in the idea of being attracted to them and it has more to do with immediate feelings instead of developing a real connection with someone.”
6. It’s love: You’re accepting of their qualities and flaws
Love is all about understanding. That’s why one of the biggest signs it’s love and not infatuation is that you see them as a human being. No one is flawless and this doesn’t change just because you have feelings for someone. If you’re in love with someone you’ll be happy to accept them, quirk and all. You might even enjoy their idiosyncrasies, and even if you don’t, you won’t try to change them.
7. It’s infatuation: Your relationship is completely sexual
“How do I know if I’m in love or infatuated?” The most obvious answer to this dilemma is that in infatuations, things are always physical. When you’re infatuated, there is a lot of sex and not a lot of intimacy. If he seems interested only in sex, then it’s a sign that he is infatuated with you.
Devaleena says “Sometimes you’re infatuated with someone with whom a relationship is not possible. Perhaps, they aren’t emotionally compatible with you or maybe they have nothing in common with you.” In such situations, the constant sex is an overcompensation for the fact that you are two very different people and sex is the only way that you can connect with each other. It will feel like you can’t keep your hands off of each other.
Related Reading: 10 Signs And Feelings That Indicate She Is In Love With You
8. It’s love: Sexual intimacy is paired with emotional connect
When we’re talking about infatuation vs love, the key difference between the two is that in love there is a much stronger emotional connection than a mere physical one. When you’re in love, sex is a given but there is a level of intimacy that can only stem from mutual trust.
You feel safer with your partner when there is love. That’s why your sex has more meaning, it becomes a way for you to feel closer. The most important thing is that you can talk about your sexual compatibility which brings you closer than ever before.
9. It’s infatuation: You’re moving too fast in your relationship
Is he is infatuated with you or does he actually love you? The answer to this lies in the speed of your relationship. Infatuation is basically an obsession; you’re constantly craving the person or the relationship. This causes you to rush into the relationship.
When my cousin, Robbie, met his fifth girlfriend, he was sure that he loved her after the first date. By the second date, they’d already slept together, and by the sixth date, they’d already made plans to move in together. All of this happened in just a month. This is a clear sign of infatuation. If only he had paused and asked himself, “Am I in love or infatuated?”, he would not have had to suffer through the painful breakup that followed.
Related Reading: 12 Signs Your Relationship Is Moving Too Fast
10. It’s love: You’re crossing milestones when you both feel ready
Love cannot be rushed. You need to take your time to get to know each other. The more time you spend together, the more comfortable you’ll get. You cannot just move in with someone you’ve just met a month ago, for all you know they might be a serial killer.
Crossing relationship milestones prematurely will give you unpleasant surprises later. Only when your feelings grow can you take your relationship to the next level. Basically, in the dilemma of infatuation vs love; fast is infatuation and slow is love.
11. It’s infatuation: You only talk about superficial things
When you’re together, what do you talk about? Is it the weather? Do you simply pay each other compliments? If yes, then you’re just infatuated. All of your conversations are based on extremely superficial things. Even though giving each other compliments is a good thing, there has to be more substance in your conversations. It is the only way you can get to know each other better and foster emotional intimacy.
In infatuation, people prefer to live in the bubble of a perfect relationship. This is why if your partner isn’t trying to get to know you better, then she/he is infatuated with you. You’re too afraid that your feelings will disappear if you got to know them better, sadly you might be right. If it’s mere liking, then it will disappear at the first sign of a flaw. How do I know if I’m in love or infatuated, you ask? Take a leap of faith and get to know your SO better. You’ll have your answer, one way or the other.
12. It’s love: You have deep meaningful conversations
One of the sure signs it’s love and not infatuation is that you’re capable of talking about more than just your favorite food and movies. In love, you don’t shy away from talking about serious topics that may be uncomfortable.
You can openly talk about things about you that you may consider regrets or mistakes. It can be a well-kept secret like a history with addiction or it could be something simple like fear of butterflies. What matters is the meaning it holds for you. If it’s important to you and takes courage to talk about, then you’re in love with the person who you can confide in about it.
13. It’s infatuation: You run away from conflict
“Am I in love or infatuated?” If you’re still struggling with this question, I have a counter-question for you: Do you fight with your SO? Fights are the ultimate eye-openers, especially in relationships. The anger that accompanies a fight always brings out the truth that the person is trying to avoid.
If you’re avoiding the inevitable first fight of your relationship, then you need to take a good look at yourself because chances are that you’re just infatuated and not in love. A conflict has the potential to crumble your entire relationship and you know it, that’s why you’re avoiding it. Sadly, this will only make it even more explosive when you finally do fight. So, fight and test your feelings out. This will save both of you a lot of pain in the future.
Related Reading: Limerence vs Love | Difference And Signs To Know
14. It’s love: You can resolve your conflicts like adults
“Am I infatuated or falling in love?” The answer lies in how you handle conflicts. Communication is the key to any relationship and your communication gets tested with every fight. Are you able to talk out your fights or do you hold grudges and give each other the silent treatment?
Ask yourself, do your feelings decrease with each fight? If that is the case, then you’re not in love. If you were in love, you’d be able to look past their emotions and understand the cause of both your agitation. Love is knowing that a fight isn’t about the immediate cause but it’s about all the emotional build-up over days.
15. It’s infatuation: You’re trying to keep things casual
Devaleena says, “Infatuation has a certain element of short-lived instant passion and they can be based entirely on visual appeal.” As mentioned before, infatuation is all about superficial things, getting serious is strictly forbidden. You just want to have a good time. That too is perfectly fine if this is what you’re looking for.
The trouble is that often people don’t know that they don’t want a commitment. They fully believe that they’re looking for a serious relationship but they’re not ready for it. They end up unconsciously trying to keep things casual and sabotage their relationships. They keep asking themselves “am I in love or infatuated?” because they have no idea what they’re feeling and what they want.
16. It’s love: You’re not afraid to commit to each other
Love is the complete opposite of infatuation. It has no fickleness and no “one foot out of the door” routine. When you’re in love, you’re committed for the long haul. Devaleena says, “Love is a long-term relationship where you gradually get to know each other and develop a comradery. You work on your differences and work toward a common goal of building a relationship.”
Honestly, you don’t even have to wonder about “am I infatuated or falling in love”. You already know because you’re looking to build a future where you’re both still together. When you’re in a loving relationship, your goals for the future get tweaked to accommodate the most important person in your life. You may have decided to travel the world like a lone wolf and then you fall in love. Now, you’re still going to travel the world but now you have a partner to share the experience with.
17. It’s infatuation: You’re constantly trying to fit their hypothetical idea of perfection
Another dead giveaway between infatuation vs love is that infatuation always makes you feel inferior. When you live under the impression that you’re dating someone perfect, you’ll end up thinking about all of your flaws. You’ll end up convincing yourself that you’re not worth their affection.
This will lead to a constant struggle of making yourself “better”. For example, if you’re a girl, you might wear tighter or more revealing clothes to keep his attention. Likewise, if you’re a boy, then you might say yes to everything she says because you’re afraid that she’ll leave you if you say no. You’ll be stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship where you’re constantly trying to boost your self-esteem with their approval.
Related Reading: Subtle Forms Of Emotional Abuse – Prachi Vaish
So, that summarizes the basic difference between love and infatuation. Think about your relationship in this context and try to notice the signs it’s love and not infatuation. If you’re still struggling with your feelings then you can always contact one of the counselors on Bonobology’s panel for some professional advice.
Remember that infatuation is very normal so don’t worry about it too much. Don’t psych yourself out by questioning your feelings too much. It may make you paranoid and uncertain about your relationship even when you don’t have anything to worry about. Take your time to understand your feelings and don’t prematurely start or end a relationship. The truth is that sometimes infatuation is just a stepping stone to love so let it run its course. All the best!