Is It Love Or Infatuation? Dating Experts Reveal How To Tell The Difference
Pop quiz: Let's say you're dating someone special. When you're together, you feel butterflies in your stomach; when you're apart, your heart aches. Is that love or infatuation? If you're new to the whole love game and experiencing these intense physical and emotional feelings for the first time, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two for sure. When I think of infatuation, I think of that rush of excitement when I flirt with a cute barista, or the jitters after a first kiss. Love, to me, is when the guy I was with helped me walk when I got my first back surgery at 19. It's deeper, and has a lot more care involved toward the other person.
To figure out the actual differences between the two phenomena, I turned to dating experts: Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking; Kailen Rosenberg, matchmaker and founder of dating app The Lodge Social Club; and dating and relationship coach Monica Parikh.
A Harvard University article broke down research from "Lust, Attraction, and Attachment in Mammalian Reproduction," conducted by Helen E. Fisher, a biological anthropologist and chief scientific advisor to Chemistry.com. Fisher presents that love is composed of attachment, attraction, and lust. Each of these three categories emits a different combination of chemicals from the brain, and without one, you don't have a full experience of love. With only one, it isn't love either. With this in mind, you can see that having feelings of lust (or infatuation) without attachment means you aren't in love.
So when talking about solely infatuation or lust, you usually mean feeling those feelings without the additional "attachment" factor.
For example, infatuation "can be the feeling of a 'crush' and jealousy is oftentimes invoked," Rosenberg tells Elite Daily. She equates the chemical feelings of infatuation to even those of addiction.
On the other hand, she says, "True love is stable, grounded, and never leaves, and infatuation is fleeting, and comes and goes."
Rosenberg says, "The differences between love and infatuation is that love comes with a sense of calm, ease, peace and comfort in the 'knowing.' The feeling and experience of real love doesn’t have to contain elation or excitement or need or attachment that is connected to fear. Love is something that is past any form of romantic feeling, it’s something that you just have and know and feel."
"In infatuation, you want your partner to do what you want when you want it," Parikh tells Elite Daily. "But love understands that we are all autonomous beings seeking our individual fulfillment, which may not perfectly align to your vision."
When you're in love, you're less controlling than when in a completely infatuated-based relationship. Furthermore, Parikh says, "Infatuation is mired in surface-level attraction — looks, money, power. Love grows out of an appreciation of the other person's character."
This idea that love develops, versus the immediacy of infatuation and lust is echoed by Trombetti.
"Love grows over time," Trombetti tells Elite Daily. "Infatuation can start as something superficial; [it] doesn’t stand the test of time, but love will."
This is also something people can confuse "love at first sight" with — those feelings of attraction, happiness, maybe even comfort, are probably just the rush of infatuation and lusting for that person upon a first impression. But those feelings can certainly develop into love after getting to know that person in time. But "infatuation at first sight" isn't as catchy, right?