love vs infatuation 8 key differences

We've all experienced it — a phase in the early stages of a relationship or situationship where the person we're dating occupies our every thought. We eagerly await their messages in the morning and indulge in romantic daydreams at night. But here's the truth: it's likely not love (and definitely not temporary insanity). It's probably just a case of infatuation.


While it may feel like falling head over heels in love, if the relationship is still new, it's most likely a potent mix of excitement, thrill, and lust. According to Leanna Stockard, a licensed family and marriage therapist, infatuation develops rapidly and is often centered around a strong attraction, admiration, or an idealized image of someone. However, it isn't long-lasting because once we truly get to know the person for who they are, those feelings tend to fade away.

That's not to say that this person isn't your soulmate or someone significant. Infatuation can evolve into love, but it's crucial to recognize that the two are not mutually exclusive. Love requires a deeper level of care, emotional attachment, and genuine interest in our partner. It develops over time as we establish a meaningful and intimate connection with them.

In the following sections, experts will delve into the differences between love and infatuation and explore how the two intersect.

Love Vs Infatuation: 8 Differences

To put it simply, infatuation is that intense and passionate feeling we experience when we're attracted to someone. It isn't grounded in reality or a genuine connection but rather in the fantasy we've constructed in our minds. Cortney Warren, a board-certified psychologist, explains that it's possible to be infatuated with someone we've just met, someone who catches our eye from across the room, someone we follow on social media, or even someone we've recently started dating.

On the other hand, love develops gradually over time and with emotional intimacy. The key distinction lies in how well we know the person and how deep our bond is. Warren notes, "When you're truly in love, it's usually with someone you're actively building a meaningful relationship with—a shared connection with someone you're genuinely passionate about."

4 Signs of Infatuation

Distinguishing between love and infatuation can be challenging, particularly if we've grown up watching Disney movies and romantic comedies from the early 2000s. While these emotions may appear similar, love is profound and develops through time and trust, whereas infatuation is a quick-burning fire akin to an intense crush. Nonetheless, differentiating between the two can still be tricky.

If you're uncertain about what you're experiencing, it's likely infatuation rather than love if:

1. You're fixated on a love interest you don't know well.

Love at first sight may or may not exist, but according to Warren, feeling intense emotions early on with a romantic interest (especially when there isn't a meaningful or established relationship) is a sign of infatuation. "In most cases, when we're infatuated with someone, we don't truly know them as a person," she explains. "We focus on their physical appearance and lack a meaningful connection."

Feeling the need to be constantly around that person, rather than simply wanting to be with them, is an example of this fixation, as pointed out by Stockard.

2. You experience physical symptoms of anxiety.

That gnawing feeling in your gut and sweaty palms don't warrant a panic-inducing WebMD search for nonexistent illnesses. Warren clarifies that physical symptoms such as butterflies in your stomach, blushing, sweating, and a sense of giddiness and excitement are all manifestations of infatuation.

3. You believe they can do no wrong.

"Infatuation resembles more of an obsession than love," Stockard asserts. Whether you view your romantic interest through rose-colored glasses or simply haven't spent enough time together for them to reveal their flaws, placing your crush on a pedestal is a telltale sign of infatuation. In contrast, love involves accepting your partner for their imperfections and realizing they are not perfect.

4. Your conversations stay on a surface level.

Infatuation, by nature, involves a superficial connection, so it's likely that your conversations haven't delved deeper, explains Stockard. She adds, "You may struggle to establish a strong emotional connection," not only because the relationship is new, but also because you fear (consciously or unconsciously) shattering the idealized image you've built of this person.

4 Signs of Love

You've probably heard the saying, "When you know, you know," but it's not always that straightforward. Let's explore this topic more deeply because, remember, love is all about delving deeper.

It's likely love, rather than mere infatuation, if:

1. Your connection feels like a slow and steady growth.

As the cliché goes, true love doesn't burn hot and fast; instead, it is forged gradually on the foundation of compatibility, trust, and emotional vulnerability. "Love tends to develop over time," says Stockard. "You gradually get to know someone on a deeper level and see their imperfections, insecurities, and vulnerabilities. Love lasts longer than the passionate phase of infatuation."

2. You engage in deep, emotional conversations.

Love blossoms when we intimately know a person. Superficial interactions fade away, and the connection is built on what truly matters. Stockard emphasizes the significance of emotional conversations: engaging in discussions where you genuinely listen to your partner, address challenging topics like finances and the future, share your vulnerabilities and insecurities, and find mutual acceptance.

3. Moving on becomes difficult after a breakup.

The thing about infatuation is that no matter how intense it feels, once it's over, we can usually bounce back relatively quickly and may even become infatuated with someone else. Love, however, is a different story.

"Falling out of love is extremely challenging," Warren explains. "If we're in love with someone and then break up, moving on can be incredibly difficult, which isn't characteristic of mere infatuation."

4. You feel safe and secure in their presence.

When we develop a deeper connection through intimate conversations and established trust, we also experience a sense of safety and security—often associated with love.

"If the relationship continues after the initial passionate phase, it may transition into a stage of attached togetherness characterized by a safe and secure bond founded on mutual love and care," Warren adds.

Can Infatuation Evolve into Love?

The answer isn't a simple yes or no—it's akin to flipping a coin. Infatuation isn't based on reality but on fantasy. Whether it can transform into love depends on what lies beneath the surface.

"If both individuals are infatuated with each other and genuinely interested in exploring a relationship, there is a possibility of transitioning into falling in love or establishing a meaningful partnership," Warren suggests. "To make that happen, both parties need to make an effort to genuinely know each other and move away from their idealized perception of the person and the relationship."

Stockard recommends reminding oneself of the crush's imperfections and humanness, resisting complete surrender to infatuation. "Nobody is perfect, and entering a relationship with the expectation of perfection may hinder the progression toward love," she advises. Over time, we will be able to determine if our connection with this person is authentic, whether we feel compatible with them, and if we can embrace their insecurities and flaws.

Certainly, infatuation can be enjoyable, and it may be inevitable in the early stages of a relationship. However, if you seek lasting and genuine love, infatuation may actually impede your progress. Since love is the ultimate goal (or at least, it should be), Warren suggests challenging idealized thoughts about your partner and engaging in real conversations to learn more about them. This can involve regular dinner dates or inviting them to participate in activities that matter to you. Utilize this time to explore deeper aspects of your connection, and you may just find love waiting for you.

The Bottom Line

There's no doubt that infatuation can feel intense and thrilling, but as psychologist Wilda Harrison says, one needs to see it for what it is: a short-lived, superficial attraction. "Even though it's easy to get excited about a new relationship, it's important to remember that real love is more than just strong feelings. Instead, it grows slowly over time as people form deep emotional bonds and truly understand each other's flaws. So, while falling in love can be fun in the beginning, it's best not to mistake it for real, long-lasting love", she notes.

Love and infatuation may seem similar at first, but they are fundamentally different experiences in a relationship. Infatuation can be intense and exhilarating, but it often fades away once you truly get to know someone. Love, on the other hand, grows over time and is built on a deeper connection and emotional attachment. Pay attention to the signs of infatuation, such as obsession with someone you hardly know, surface-level conversations, and the idolization of your love interest. Love, in contrast, involves slow and steady growth, deep emotional conversations, difficulty moving on after a breakup, and a sense of safety and security. While infatuation can turn into love if both individuals make an effort to know each other beyond the initial fantasy, it's important to approach relationships with a realistic mindset.

Don't let infatuation stand in the way of finding lasting, real love. Challenge those idealized thoughts, have meaningful conversations, and allow your connection to deepen over time. If you're ready to uncover the true nature of your relationship, iFindCheaters is here to help. Our discreet online service enables you to uncover any secrets your partner may be hiding without touching their phone, providing you with the evidence you need to make informed decisions. Don't let uncertainty and doubt linger in your relationship. Take control today with iFindCheaters and pave the way for a love that stands the test of time.

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