Posted by: silverliningsblog | August 30, 2019

Is it love or infatuation?

Note: If you prefer to watch rather than read, check out the live video I did on this topic: https://vimeo.com/356927859 

I’ve received a few questions from coaching clients lately that make me realize that people are confusing infatuation with love, so I’d like to clarify the difference.

First, let me ask if this has ever happened to you…

You meet someone (in real life or online or even on TV), and see some characteristics you’ve been looking for, and fall “head over heels,” becoming obsessed with what they’re doing, who they’re with, and whether they’re choosing you. And everything else in your life suddenly becomes less important.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

The feelings are so intense, it seems like it must be love. But is it?

Love vs. infatuation

First, let’s look at the differences between love and infatuation…

Infatuation: 

  1. A feeling of passionate desire and euphoria that quickly consumes you 
  2. Characterized by urgency, sexual desire, idealizing, and obsessive thoughts
  3. Defined by a desire to constantly be together and possess the other
  4. Often accompanied by feelings of anxiety, jealousy, paranoia
  5. They are like a drug to you…you can’t focus on anything else or sleep
  6. You start to feel like you’re merging with the other person and can’t live without them
  7. You may make high-risk choices and abandon other relationships
  8. Long-term effect: Quick start/finish (brush fire), feeling empty and alone, obsessing about what was lost, craving a replacement, missing out on present life/relationships
  9. You lose your identity and feel like a shell of who you once were

Love: 

  1. A feeling of deep affection and respect that builds over time
  2. Characterized by patience, knowledge of and desire for the entire person
  3. Defined by a desire to help the other be their best self and be happy
  4. Accompanied by feelings of fondness, affection, respect, generosity
  5. They are like a best friend to you…you want what’s best for them
  6. You each maintain your own identities, interests and relationships
  7. You work together to settle differences and find win-win solutions
  8. Long-term effect: Security, peace, stability, trust, partnership…a stable environment for stepping out into the world, knowing someone has your back
  9. You grow and become a better version of yourself

How to know if it’s love

So when you first meet someone and you feel excited, how can you tell if it’s real love or not? The truth is, you can only REALLY know this over time.

People will say later on it was “love at first sight,” but really, that’s only because their love lasted…so now with hindsight they can say they “always knew.” But in the beginning, you can’t really know for sure.

In the early stages of dating, the chemistry/spark/excitement you feel is infatuation. 

It’s too early to say you truly love someone as you don’t really KNOW them deeply. And it’s too early for them to know they really love YOU.

Have you ever had someone come on too fast? I know I have. One guy told me he loved me within a matter of weeks, and I felt uncomfortable because I knew he didn’t really know me and was in love with his idealized image of me. It didn’t take me long to fall off that pedestal!

And on the flip-side of this, I have twice had crushes on guys who didn’t return my feelings. It seemed like they were perfect for me…and yet they couldn’t be if they weren’t choosing me, because the perfect partner would WANT to be with me! I felt that I loved them, but my love wasn’t returned.

Here’s the thing…if you can’t stop thinking about someone and can’t let them go, that’s not love (even if it feels intense).

Love is based on wanting the other to be happy…and so if their choice is to be with someone else, then really loving them means letting them go so they can have what they want.

I had to do this with the two male friends of mine who I knew for years and cared for deeply, who both chose someone else…loving them meant wanting them to be happy, and trusting I would find the person who looked at me the way I looked at them.

What is not love

Too many people use “love” as an excuse to justify all kinds of unhealthy behaviours:

  • Stalking someone online (e.g. tracking someone on GPS)
  • Stalking someone online (e.g. tracking someone on GPS)
  • Stalking someone in real life (e.g. driving by their house to see who’s car is in the driveway)
  • Obsessing over someone’s every move (e.g. waiting by your phone)
  • Creating “emergencies” to seek out their attention
  • Trying to get between them and a partner
  • Ignoring other important relationships
  • Not meeting your own needs / needing someone else to be happy

These behaviours are not signs of love…they are signs of addiction/infatuation.

Take it slow

Real love takes time to build, like a good fire.

Love requires getting to really know someone deeply, and deciding if you can live with their flaws and idiosyncrasies.

It’s ok to be excited to meet someone you think could be “it.” But don’t let your hormones and excitement cloud your judgment.

In other words, SLOW IT DOWN at the beginning.

Get to know them to see if they fit with what you really want. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for yet another short-term relationship that burns out quickly…and yet another break-up.

What do I mean by slow it down? I mean:

  • Pace yourself…go on a date or two a week (instead of spending every day together).
  • Don’t spend every minute of the day texting / watching your phone.
  • Hold off on sex (ideally for at least a month or two).
  • Hold off on being exclusive and committing your heart to someone you barely know.
  • Get to know the person gradually (instead of investing all your time/energy in them).
  • Keep investing in other areas/relationships in your life (don’t ditch your friends).

Taking it slow is the best way to know if you’ve found the right person for you, and to create a healthy, happy, stable relationship.

Remember…the initial excitement you feel only tells you this person MIGHT be what you’re looking for. Real love requires really getting to know someone, and that takes TIME.

So be patient, and look for the one who fulfills you, not just excites you.

Want to know more?

If you need help learning how to slow things down and create a truly healthy relationship, check out my new free training: Loving without losing: How to attract the love of your life without losing yourself again

Are you feeling lonely, and wanting to connect with other single women? Join our Empowered Single Women Facebook group, where we share ideas on how to love life as a single person and also attract love!

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Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract (and keep) their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.


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