Is There A Clear-Cut Definition? Infatuation And What It Means In Relationships

Updated March 21, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

The initial phase of a relationship is usually characterized by heat, anxiety, excitement, and a certain level of obsession; people in a new relationship often exhibit infatuation symptoms, which is expected and usually does not signal anything worrisome or problematic. 

Is infatuation in a relationship healthy and normal? How do you define infatuation? Ahead, we will discuss the answers to these questions, as well as how infatuation can impact a relationship in different ways.

What is infatuation?

Infatuation can lead to more mature love or obsession

Infatuation is a term used to describe the initial stage of a relationship, wherein both parties are verging on being obsessed with one another. Infatuation is a relationship period known for intense feelings of attraction, attachment, and possession, in addition to the high of feeling as though you've found your one, perfect person with whom you'll the rest of your life. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with infatuation, it is a passing phase. One psychologist asserts that this period only lasts for 18-36 months of a relationship before either giving way to impassivity or more mature love.

Infatuation is exclusive to the beginning of a relationship and does not crop up after a relationship has been well established unless the terms of a relationship change. If you have been friends with someone for years, for instance, but have only recently begun a romantic or sexual relationship, it is possible to experience infatuation with that person. If, however, you have been in a long-term romantic or sexual relationship and feel a resurgence of affection or emotion, you are experiencing a resurgence of love rather than infatuation.

Infatuation, by its nature, may cause tunnel vision in a relationship. Far from being a practical or pragmatic experience, infatuation relies heavily upon feelings and rarely involves questions like "Do we share values?" "How will we join our lives?" "Can we make this work for the remainder of our lives?" These are questions characteristic of love. Infatuation stands firmly in the camp of "love conquers all" and similar romantic notions that, while lovely in theory, often do not work out in actual practice.

How infatuation is expressed

Infatuation is usually expressed similarly to love; infatuated people usually offer their partners declarations of love and affection often and emphatically. Poetry, songs, and love letters are known to pepper the initial stages of a relationship, including infatuation. Other phrases that are common to infatuation include, "I can never get enough of you," "I miss you all of the time," and "You're everything to me."

Nonverbally, infatuation is usually expressed with copious amounts of physical affection and an overwhelming desire to be close. Infatuation is frequently marked by intense and passionate sexual encounters, with some couples in the infatuation stage consistently engaging in some form of sexual activity every day.

Infatuation versus obsession

Infatuation and obsession can initially look like they are the same, but there is an edge to an obsession that is far more problematic and even dangerous than simple infatuation. The intensity of emotion and emotion involved in infatuation is pretty close to that of obsession.

Obsession, conversely, means not only feeling intensely for your partner and feeling as though they are the only person for you, but also changing your entire life to fit your partner. Obsessed people might neglect responsibilities, such as work, school, or parental duties, to spend time with or tend to their partner. Obsession can also mean that mental health assistance is needed, as people can fall into love addiction or love obsession, both of which have the potential to place the addicted person or the object of their affection in danger. 

Seeking a therapist is the best course of action when an obsession develops to create healthier communication and relationship habits and move toward healthier and safer ways to feel and express connection.

Infatuation versus love

Infatuation can closely mimic love; while infatuated with someone, you typically want to spend as much time with them as possible. You usually experience intensely positive feelings, both toward yourself and toward them; you usually feel as though you want to spend the rest of your life toward them. 

Although infatuation is often discussed and portrayed as though it is something embarrassing, foreign, or immature, it is a normal, natural stage of a relationship-even among individuals who possess plenty of wisdom and maturity. The novelty of any budding relationship is enough to spur feelings of infatuation, and relationships would likely not survive without some amount of romantic infatuation; infatuation allows you to get to know someone in their entirety, instead of writing them off immediately when their faults are made known and provide a way for the two of you to bond.

Infatuation can be expected to last anywhere from 18 months to three years in a relationship, after which infatuation begins to fade, and companionship takes the forefront of your relationship. Some people perpetually chase the highs of infatuation and leap from new relationships to new relationships, while others relish and welcome the advent of a more comfortable, companionable partnership. 

Both of these types of individuals can experience love and joy in relationships. However, people who can stay in relationships long-term are more likely to experience deep and fulfilling love than those who perpetually reside within the beginning stages of a loving relationship.

What infatuation means for relationships

Infatuation tends to have a bad reputation, but it is a normal and expected part of a romantic attachment. People who experience infatuation do not do so due to psychological pain or a disorder but are simply moving along the line expected of an intimate relationship. In a relationship, infatuation usually means a few things:

You are blind to faults

Infatuation is marked by either being entirely blind to your partner's faults or feeling as though the faults you've noticed do not or will not matter in the long run. If you feel uneasy about your partner's smoking, for instance, infatuation might convince you that smoking is not so problematic and you might disregard any discomfort you feel about the increased risk of disease for your partner and yourself. 

Infatuation might also suggest that fundamental religious or philosophical differences will "sort themselves out" as your relationship progresses, rather than presenting a very serious and very real problem down the road.

You Are In The Infancy Stage Of Your Relationship
A relationship still embroiled in infatuation is not a mature relationship. Even if the two of you are a couple of years into your relationship, if you are still in the infatuation phase, your relationship has not matured and stabilized into a dependable, long-term partnership. The progression from infatuation to more mature love will differ from relationship to relationship but is usually marked by a diminished sexual appetite, an increased need or desire for independence, and a decrease in your need for reassurance.

You have not yet experienced a crash

The crash that follows infatuation is not necessarily a bad one; it is deemed a "crash" merely because the high of infatuation begins to level out or sink altogether. For some relationships – those which are compatible and capable of the lasting – the crash of infatuation makes way for a more comfortable, companionable relationship that may not possess the intense love-making or possessiveness so unique to the beginning of a relationship. However, secure attachments often involves diminished anxiety and increased feelings of comfort, safety, and contentment. 

For relationships that do not have the potential to work over the long term, the crash that follows infatuation is more of a wake-up call; you may begin to notice your partner's flaws or feel uneasy at the prospect of spending your lives together. This stage in a relationship is painful but is unfortunately necessary for anyone seeking a long-term commitment.

Infatuation can lead to more mature love or obsession

Seek relationship advice in online therapy

If you are questioning whether your feelings for someone are more aligned with love, infatuation, or obsession, you can confide in a professional online therapist via online platforms like Regain. Perhaps you’ve started to notice signs that you’re obsessing over a partner’s every move, or you’ve realized that you and your partner don’t on enough values in a way that can allow your relationships to progress. Regardless of the challenges you’re facing, you can trust in a Regain counselor to listen, offer advice, and teach you strategies for communicating with your partner.

You do not have to be married or even in a long-term relationship to attend couples’ therapy. You also do not have to have a mental health diagnosis. All types of people may find that an online counselor is an excellent way to resolve their issues, and online therapy enables users to schedule virtual sessions at times that are convenient for their schedules. Additionally, there’s no need to travel to an in-person therapist’s office – you can meet virtually with your therapist from any location with a secure internet connection. Regain even allows users to text their therapists directly, should they need help in a particular moment.

Research has highlighted how individuals and couples who take part in online therapy achieve the same significance of positive outcomes as those who engage in face-to-face therapy. Such outcomes include improved relationship satisfaction and overall mental health. 


In summary, infatuation is quite different from love and obsession. Unhealthy attachments and behaviors characterize obsession. Love is characterized by a long-term commitment, with a mature and healthy view of oneself and others. Infatuation is essentially the childhood or adolescent stage of developing love and requires plenty of time and interaction to thrive truly. 

Because infatuation is such a critical component of falling in love, there is no need to feel ashamed for being infatuated with your partner. The key is to acknowledge these feelings and continue to explore whether mature love is possible – if that is indeed what you and your significant other want. If you feel like a neutral perspective would provide some clarity, you can reach out to a licensed Regain therapist for advice.

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