What Is Infatuation? Symptoms, Definition, And How To Overcome It
Your eyes meet across the room at a party, or you happen to notice a striking individual at the checkout counter when you're out at the grocery store or perhaps at a restaurant. Maybe you stop scrolling on Instagram and look up only to see someone you can't take your eyes off of. In short, you fall hard and fast, and you are all of a sudden head over heels for someone.
You are infatuated.
You're convinced that this is love at first sight. You've found your forever kind of love, and you'll end up living happily ever after.
Many of us have been there before, and for those of us that have, it's happened to us at least once in our lives. The infatuation runs a quick, short course for many people, and we're over the crush. For others, the infatuation continues, and the feelings linger and either become an obsession of sorts or gets mistaken for love.
So how do you define infatuation? Infatuation is defined as a "feeling of a foolish or obsessively strong love for, admiration for, or interest in someone or something: strong and unreasoning attachment."
Infatuation is a strong, all-consuming, and intense experience primarily based on looks or raw physical attraction. To put it plainly, it's often based purely on lust, because how can you love someone if you don't know anything about them?
Infatuations generally tend to be short-lived and often disappear when the person gets what they want. For example, a guy meets a woman at a bar or a coffee shop. He becomes completely smitten and begins to pursue her. When he finally gets her, the feelings of wonder and euphoria go away.
Infatuation has also been described as the first stage of a relationship before it develops into a mature intimacy, when everything about the person you fell for is charming. It's the stage where you may not be able to keep your hands off of each other and when you may find yourself thinking about the other person at every waking moment. These are all general things two people experience in the early stages of their relationship. But when these feelings are one-sided, not reciprocated, or the other person is completely unaware, it's a red flag signaling infatuation.
Let’s get to know more about infatuation and what it means in relationships.
The Signs And Symptoms Of Infatuation:
There is most likely a reason you are reading this article. Did you recently meet someone? Are you wondering whether the feelings you are harboring towards that someone are infatuation? Are you concerned someone you may know may be infatuated with you? Is it a battle between attraction vs infatuation? If so, try to take notice of the signs below or ask yourself:
Are you spending less time with friends and family than you did before?
Are you ignoring the activities you usually engaged in or enjoyed in favor of the ones the person you're infatuated with does?
Are you acting in a possessive manner?
Are you irrational or illogical?
Are you letting your emotions guide you?
Do you depend on the person you are infatuated with to give you everything you need to complete your life? (This can be a dangerous expectation because no one person can complete someone's life and having that kind of expectation may set you up for heartbreak.)
Are you only capable of talking about the person you're infatuated with or seem to only care about them?
Are you living in a fantasy world when it concerns this person?
A person who is experiencing infatuation may be unable to spot some of these signs for themselves, so it may fall on a friend or family to gently remind them that their rush of emotions is not necessarily true love. If you're having that conversation about someone else's infatuation, remember to be gentle and kind because nobody likes to be told they're making a mistake.
Infatuation Vs Love
As mentioned above, it is not uncommon for two people who have just started a new relationship to be infatuated with each other. They may exhibit many of the symptoms mentioned above, so how can you know when the feelings of infatuation are cause for concern and when it's budding love? Of course, there is no way of scientifically figuring that out, but there are some things you can take note of. Love and infatuation may start the same way, but they are very different things at their core. Infatuation tends to be selfish and self-centered, whereas love is unselfish and giving.
Some additional things you may feel when you're in love versus when you're simply feeling infatuated are:
You want to give instead of getting.
Your emotions are long-lasting and not fleeting or short-lived.
You are practical and rational instead of being impractical.
You are willing to make sacrifices and compromises instead of making it all about you.
You trust the other person, and distance does not lead to jealousy.
Physical appearance or beauty is not of primary importance to you.
Why Infatuation Can Be Harmful
You may be wondering why it would be a bad thing to experience a rush of heady emotions or feel like you're in love?
Scientific research has concluded that lust and attraction can be as addictive as the effects of a drug. In fact, research shows that when people initially fall in love or experience infatuation, the brain reacts in the same way as someone who has a cocaine dependence. This can be potentially dangerous because when your brain gets hungry for its "next fix," you may engage in potentially reckless behavior without thinking through the possible consequences, for example, having unsafe sex or cheating on your spouse and blowing up your marriage.
Feeling high on the rush of feelings, you may also fail to see the negatives in the person and build up a fantasy in your head that's actually far from reality. When the reality eventually sets in, it can be a crushing blow and leave you heartbroken or filled with anger, bitterness, and resentment.
This is one of the biggest reasons people usually take their time dating and getting to know each other before making big commitments such as getting engaged or getting married. Imagine you meet someone and instantly fall madly in love. After a whirlwind few months of dating and viewing them through rose-tinted glasses, you get married, only to discover soon after the wedding that the other person isn't exactly who they portrayed themselves to be and the marriage may not work.
Our friends, family, and loved ones tend to know us well, and they can generally see things from a neutral point of view in situations where we may be too emotionally involved. If everyone is telling you that you may have a problem with infatuation, you find your feelings of infatuation spiraling out of control, or infatuation begins to pose a hindrance to your life, it may be a good idea to get some help. Did you know that infatuation can be a mental disorder? Before things get to the point where your mental well-being gets impacted, seek help from a mental health professional.
Individual counseling can help you overcome, understand, and cope with your feelings of infatuation.
What Else Can You Do?
Besides professional help, you can also prevent or manage the symptoms associated with infatuation through some natural means.
Make sure to keep your friendships.
Eat healthily and exercise!
As soon as you feel yourself beginning to obsess about someone, divert your thoughts to something else.
Spend time connecting with yourself; the happier and more confident you are in your life and the person you are, the less likely you will be to develop an obsession or infatuation for someone.
These are some good things to put into practice even if you are not currently infatuated with anyone. It can never hurt to enrich your life and keep it well balanced. Having a full and rich life can only serve to benefit you in the long run.
Infatuation doesn't always have to be a bad thing or have negative connotations. When starting in a relationship, the phase of infatuation can be a beautiful, fun, thrilling adventure.
Only you and the object of your infatuation can know whether what you are feeling is simply infatuation or whether it's the new and exciting beginning of budding love. If your feelings are reciprocated, that's a good first sign that things are heading in a positive direction.
However, if the person you are fixated on doesn't have a clue you're alive or has made it very clear they are not interested, then it's time to move on. If you find yourself incapable of doing so or becoming increasingly obsessed, you are likely experiencing infatuation.
Moving on from someone or something can sometimes be challenging; therapy can help you come to terms with it. A therapist can arm you with tools to build healthier relationships and habits moving forward. Regain is an affordable and convenient online therapy platform. Once you're matched with a licensed therapist, you can work with them on your own or with your partner. Scheduling online sessions is easy, and you can find a time that works best with your schedule.
Online therapy has become an effective way to work through all sorts of issues one may be having, including sorting out a relationship. Some individuals have even found it to be more effective than in-person therapy. Online therapy provides an avenue for finding the perfect match of client to therapist, since you don't have to be tied to just your local area.
If you're concerned about an infatuation in your life, it's OK to seek out help and gain a healthier balance in your relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is The Difference Between Love And Infatuation?
The primary difference between infatuation and love is that infatuation is usually shallow and fleeting, while real love is deeper and, hopefully, longer-lasting. Infatuation is also commonly known as “puppy love” and most often occurs when we see someone we think we want to be with (whether or not they’re actually a good fit for us or vice versa rarely crosses the mind). Psychologist Robert Sternberg believes that there are three components of love: passion, intimacy, and commitment. He argues that when only passion is present, that is infatuation.
As discussed in the article above, someone who is in love or falling in love wants to give rather than receive, their feelings are deeper and longer-lasting, and they genuinely care about the person’s well-being (beyond just “having” and being with that person). Someone who is genuinely in love tends to be more rational about their feelings (infatuation tends to be very irrational and can feel somewhat frenzied and confusing) and they care about more than just the appearance of their love interest or other physical traits (infatuation is often all about appearance and physical traits).
What Are The Signs Of Infatuation?
Real love and infatuation seem to feel similar in their beginning stages, but there are some signs to watch out for to determine the difference between love and infatuation. Both are triggered by dumps of dopamine and other brain chemicals and hormones.
Infatuation may be the cause If you find yourself:
Constantly looking out for this person
Wanting to know what they’re up to more often than not
Getting jealous when you see them spending time with others
Feeling somehow hurt or upset if they don’t interact with you
Feeling insecure about where you stand with this person and whether or not they feel the same (while really, really hoping that they feel the same way that you do)
Forgoing other activities, including spending time with friends and family, in the hopes that you’ll be able to see this person
Feeling possessive of them
Living in an idealistic fantasy world regarding this person
Real love can be many things at different times, but is not jealous, possessive, overly insecure, controlling, or idealistic and unrealistic—these are key differences between infatuation and love.
How Long Can Infatuation Last?
This depends entirely on who you are and the circumstances. If you have daily contact with this person, infatuation could last months, maybe even years, if you’re not in a healthy space within yourself. Infatuation could also last just a matter of days or weeks. The younger, less experienced with healthy relationships one is, the longer infatuation is likely to last.
How Do I Get Rid Of Infatuation?
You can kick infatuation to the curb by reminding yourself that that’s what it is—infatuation—and that it’s not realistic or healthy. You can ask yourself how well you actually know this person, what it is that you think you “love” about them, and why. Next, keep yourself busy! Try to distance yourself from this love interest to help distance yourself from your feelings of infatuation, resume doing your hobbies and spending time with friends, and learn to immediately divert your focus if you catch yourself obsessively thinking about this person again.
Use this as an opportunity to get to know yourself better, take up some new hobbies or rediscover old ones, and treat yourself! Try to eat well, be active if that’s something that interests you, treat yourself to a bath with some wine and candles, do art, volunteer for good causes—anything to keep yourself busy while positively impacting yourself. If you’re really having a hard time, you can seek help from friends, family, or a licensed therapist to help you work through your feelings and thoughts.
Does Infatuation Turn Into Love?
Infatuation can absolutely turn into love! In fact, many loving, genuine relationships begin with at least a bit of infatuation—when you begin to fall in love, it can feel thrilling, uncertain, and scary. You may experience feelings of jealousy and insecurity while you and your love interest are getting to know one another and navigating the beginning stages of the relationship. For many people, their romantic interest in someone starts as a bit of infatuation as they imagine who this person really is, what it would be like to be with them, all the things they like about them, and so on. When this interest is returned, and the two people begin a romantic relationship, there is potential for it to grow into genuine love.
Remember, the main difference between love and infatuation is that the first is deeper and longer-lasting, while the latter tends to be focused on surface-level things and is fleeting and continually uncertain.
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