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Infatuation vs Love: How to distinct & to turn one into the other

by eharmony Editorial Team - July 28, 2021

Infatuation vs love. Both things we talk about a lot, but rarely do we ever look at their actual meanings. On the one hand, Merriam-Webster defines infatuation as a “feeling of foolish or obsessively strong love for, admiration for, or interest in someone or something”1. On the other hand, love is a “warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion to another person”2 In this article, we’ll dive deeper and look at how to tell the difference between infatuation and love, and how to move from one to the other.

The difference between infatuation and love

While people often like to use them interchangeably, you can see from the definitions that infatuation and love are pretty different emotions. Here are 8 important differences that will help you with how to tell if you love someone or are just infatuated with them.

  • Infatuation is physical, love is more than that: The biggest thing about infatuation vs love? Infatuation is very much a physical thing – your heart races, your palms sweat, you’re incredibly attracted to the person you’re infatuated with. While love also has a physical component, there’s a deeper bond and intensitity that connects you to your partner.
  • Infatuation is temporary, love is long-term: While both are strong feelings, infatuation is rarely one that lasts very long. It mostly comes up at the beginning of a getting to know process and relationship and often dissipates as you get to know the object of your affection better. The definition of love, however, is that it unfolds incrementally and is something that strengthens and grows with time.
  • Infatuation is obsessive, love is calm and steady: You can’t stop thinking about your crush, even at work or school? Do thoughts of them, or what you’d like to do with them, intrude even when you’re doing something completely unrelated? That’s another big sign you’re infatuated rather than in love.
  • Infatuation is reckless, love is caring: A huge difference between infatuation and love? Infatuation can push you to be reckless. This is why, you’re often not rational about the object of your affections and making rash decisions is easier. When you’re in love you tend to keep their comfort as well as yours in mind – at least, when you’re in a healthy relationship.
  • Infatuation isn’t based on any knowledge of the person: When it comes to infatuation, it’s often based on something superficial, like appearance, or an assumption about the person – take a celebrity crush or people they’ve only met in passing, for instance. Love, on the other hand, generally develops out of real knowledge of a person’s character. It deepens as you get to know your partner better.
  • Infatuation is possessive, love is confident in the other person’s affections: Contrasting infatuation vs love shows that infatuation and the feeling of ‘getting’ or ‘having’ someone is very important. It’s not uncommon for people who are infatuated to get very jealous of anyone or anything that demands their partner’s attention. When you’re in love, you’re happy to see your partner have close friendships and a strong bond with their family. You know these relationships aren’t a threat to your own.
  • Infatuation means going way too fast, while love means taking your time: When you’re infatuated, the urge to hit all the relationship milestones – sleeping together, getting exclusive, even tying the knot – at warp speed can be overpowering, even if your rational mind knows it’s a terrible idea. There’s a reason for the term ‘love is patient’ – when you fell in love, you won’t feel the same overpowering rush to move forward in your relationship, regardless of whether you’re ready or not.
  • Infatuation is unsustainable, while love is not: Finally, just as it’s impossible to run for very long at your top speed, it’s impossible to maintain an infatuation for very long. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s a heightened state of emotion, which can get exhausting after a while. Love, is more like a marathon – while it doesn’t have the emotional highs and lows of an infatuation, it is steadier and more constant, which makes it a stronger emotion to maintain long-term.

5 Ways to turn infatuation to love

Not all infatuations and love last. Some aren’t meant to be more than a fleeting thing, while others can last longer and even deeper. This is because as you get to know a person better and spend more time around them, you get a sense of who they are as a person rather than the superficial knowledge that’s enough for infatuation to develop. If there’s an infatuation you’d like to see deepen, here are some things you can do to heighten the chances that it’s love vs infatuation.

1. Decide if you want to make a commitment

So, how to tell if you love someone? This is key – at the end of the day, a huge portion of whether a relationship ends up being infatuation vs love is you deciding which of the two you want, and working towards it. Making the conscious decision to commit and  pursue a relationship means that you will be more aware of opportunities to deepen the connection. You’ll also be more willing to put in the effort, rather than just letting it fade away, if you’ve decided that a relationship is what you want.

2. Give it time

As mentioned previously, infatuations tend to be short-term and often superficial. For one to sprout into something more, the most important thing you can do is just be patient and give it the time and space to grow. Don’t push; trying to shove your feelings forward before they’re ready can backfire from what you actually want, and doom your love story before it even starts. Instead, take your time and let it progress naturally.

3. Open up and let yourself be vulnerable

A really big way human beings connect with each other is by sharing stories and often vulnerabilities. Opening up to someone you’re infatuated with, letting them see you in a vulnerable state – and being there for them when they do the same – is a good way to deepen any connection you two may already have. It’s also a way to show them who you are – and vice versa – and thus plant the seeds for a real relationship.

4. Learn how to have healthy conflict

We’ve been told that conflict is bad, but that’s not true. No two humans are completely alike, and those differences are what make life interesting. However, it’s important to know how to communicate well and fight fair, especially if you are looking for a long-term connection.

5. Remember that love is an action

Like the old country song says, love is ‘something that we do’. It’s not enough to just want to go from infatuation to love, putting in the work to grow and deepen your initial connection is important, too. Arranging dates and spending time with your partner, paying attention and giving compliments, doing nice things for them… these are some ideas for how to attract love.

What is love?

Explore ‘What is Love’ as we delve into its history, science, and the 8 aspects of genuine love. Discover how eharmony can help you find lasting connections.

Infatuation vs love: Similar, but with very different results

When it comes to the difference between infatuation and love, infatuation is like a raging river in a storm, while love is more like the ocean on a calm sunny day; one exhilarating but dangerous, the other outwardly placid but containing plenty of depth. If you’re looking for someone to swim with, eharmony is a great starting point to find a love that lasts.

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