Have you ever noticed a real cute cutie in your class and immediately known what you would wear to you wedding and what you would name your children together...? It's possible you were infatuated, let's define the difference between love and infatuation.
You may have heard of the phrase "Love at first sight", which means the minute you lay your eyes on someone their hair starts blowing in the wind, angels start singing and you may even think you are in love with them. The reality is that the feeling you may be experiencing is most likely infatuation. Now hear me out I'm not bashing infatuation, infatuation is awesome and it can actually LEAD to love. But something you have to be careful about is remembering that, yes infatuation and love are both amazing, but they ARE different and should be cared for differently. So let's talk about the differences:
Like I mentioned above there is nothing wrong with infatuation and it can even lead to love. But reality is that infatuation will eventually end and it will either lead to love or fizzled out.
- Based on sex/physical attraction/popularity
Let me tell you I hope that if you are in love with someone you think they are the cutest person ever, this is just saying if the ONLY reason you attracted to someone is because they are cutesy or popular that is a sign that you are in the infatuation stage.
- Asks "What can you do for me?"
This could be anything from dating someone because they make you look good, boosts your popularity, or even wanting to be with them because of sex.
- Feeling of uncertainty
This feeling of uncertainty could also reference the talking stage. You don't really know if you are supposed to be calling them your boyfriend or girlfriend. It could even be you just not really knowing if they like you as much as you like them.
- Weakened by time or separation
An example of this would be if you have a crush on someone in your class and then they get COVID-19 and they have to quarantine for two weeks and you forget all about your crush on them.
- Blooms quickly
This would apply to the "Love at first sight"reference.
- A feeling
Keep reading to hear a little bit more about this one. ;)
You know those old couples who still hold hands across the table while they are eating dinner at a restaurant, that is what love lasting looks like.
- Based on shared experience/goals/values
Like I mentioned above there is nothing wrong with being attracted to the person you are infatuated with, but love is based off of something deeper, while still thinking they're the cutest thing of course. This make love more solid than infatuation.
- Asks "What can I do for you?"
This means that you cater to the one you love's needs. This does not mean that you should be the only one in the relationship to put in effort but if both partners are asking the other partner "What can I do for you?" or "How can I make you feel loved today?", then both partner's needs are met and no one feels unloved.
- Feeling of security
This basically means you know they feel the same way about the relationship as you do, you trust that they are being faithful to you, and you have defined the relationship.
- Strengthened by time or separation
Let's take the "Crush getting COVID" example from above but instead of it being your crush, the person in the scenario is your boyfriend/girlfriend that you have realized you have moved out of the infatuation stage and into love island with. If they get quarantined for 2 weeks it is unlikely that you would forget all about them, right? Please say I'm right.
- Takes root slowly and grows with time
This could start in the infatuation stage and it looks like finding out the basics about them, which would be things like their favorite color or taco bell order. Then it moves into learning deeper things like each other's values and morals, what their childhood was like, and if you too could live a life along side each other.
- A choice
I know it sounds weird to call love a choice but allow me to explain. There are going to be days where the people we love are not easy to love and they will also feel the same way about us sometimes. That is why it is important to realize that loving someone is a choice we make every single day. There might be things that you would not but up with in the infatuation period that you would learn to communicate about on love island. Like if someone is really bad a texting you back in the infatuation period, you might get bored and stop trying with them. But once you move into love, you would love them through it and communicate to them how it makes you feel when they don't text you back.
So now that we know the difference between love and infatuation let's talk about the ways they should be handled differently. We established that infatuation is good and fun but it is also temporary, can have a feeling of uncertainty, and can be weakened by separation. That doesn't sound like something very stable. So it doesn't make sense to treat it like something that is stable, like love, which is lasting, makes us feel secure, and is a choice. Treating something unstable like it is stable can lead us to heartbreak and may even make us hesitant to be open to love when it comes our way.
What does it look like to treat infatuation like love?
I'm sure you have heard a OneLife educator talk about boundaries at some point and guess what? I'm about to talk about them a little bit more. Below I am going to listen a few tips to help you keep infatuation and love separate and keep your heart safe:
1) Examine your relationship by comparing it to the characteristic listed above that describe love vs. infatuation.
This is going to be your starting point. It is important to know which category your relationship falls into, so you know how to treat your relationship.
2) Get to know each other slowly but surely.
In the first month or two it is likely that you are still in the infatuation phase of your relationship. So if you hang out all day everyday and tell each other everything about yourself. It can leave you feeling like you lost a part of yourself if the infatuation fizzles out and doesn't turn into love.
3) Refrain from excessive amounts of physical touch.
I know this is hard when you REALLY like someone, but if you're anything like me, you may get really attached through physical touch. I have even made the rule for myself not to kiss a guy until he has officially asked me to be his girlfriend.
This also includes abstaining from sexual activity. You know at OneLife we talk about the benefits of waiting to have sex until you are married. It is because sex is very powerful and takes a lot of vulnerability. We aren't saying this because we want to be the fun police, we just want you to have the happiest and healthiest relationships possible!
4) Let infatuation be what it is, don't force love.
The beautiful thing about infatuation is that it allows us to to get to know someone and figure out if we like them without committing our WHOLE LIFE to them. Handling the infatuation stage with the right boundaries can be a really great way to protect your heart.
I hope this helps. Remember, we are always available for questions and we REALLY, really love you.