Infatuation Vs. Love: What's The Difference?

Updated March 9, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

At some point in life, most people have a crush that is one-sided or what we call unrequited love. Maybe you were “in love” with a celebrity or someone at school once upon a time. Later in life, you might dismiss those feelings as having been a simple infatuation, but it isn’t just age and experience that help us tell the difference between a crush and something more. Understanding the difference between infatuation and love often depends on how long you experience it. An infatuation is intense and short-lived (it may last mere minutes), while love can last a lifetime.

The Chemical Component

Learn About The Difference Between Love And Infatuation

The difference between infatuation vs. love is often chemical. Infatuation is often merely lust, a physical attraction, and a sexual drive to procreate. We lust after someone because our bodies have decided they would make a good mate. We may also be attracted to them and find their looks or personality pleasing, but it does not necessarily mean the relationship will last.

Chemically, physical attraction or lust is fueled by the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Both are required to some degree to experience lust. As these hormone levels ramp up, we may become antsy and aggressive, losing focus on anything other than sexual gratification. From an evolutionary perspective, this obsession with sex is how our species survived. However, some people don’t feel sexual attraction to others or they may not be compelled to have sex, regardless of attraction.

When things move beyond lust into emotional attraction, the brain begins to pump out dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine creates feelings of happiness and reward. When we are around a person who evokes these feelings, our brains feel rewarded. When that person is not around, the brain acts like a drug addict needing a fix. It makes us want that person, so our brain releases more dopamine and makes us happy again.

Oxytocin is called “the bonding chemical.” It is usually released to bond people. In situations like breastfeeding, pregnancy, and sex, oxytocin chemically compels us to become emotionally closer to another person. Like dopamine, oxytocin can become addictive and will increase the craving for the object of affection when they are not around. It is also considered a "love neurotransmitter."

Infatuation happens when we crave the chemical release of oxytocin and dopamine together. Love tends to have more to do with values and the affection that grows over time.

The Social Consequences

Regarding relationships, most people aspire to be in love. The infatuation stage is filled with intense emotions, but a romantic relationship likely needs more than infatuation to last long-term. When does infatuation turn into love?

There aren’t specific milestones indicating a connection has successfully transformed from the infatuation or honeymoon phase into love. It’s usually a gradual process. Try to avoid unrealistic expectations for immediate true love in a new relationship; infatuation isn’t bad, and it can grow over time.

Love means that your relationship is serious and committed. When you truly love someone, you will sometimes be selfless. After all, you put another person’s needs before yours.

Infatuation, on the other hand, may be more like obsession than mature love. Infatuation doesn’t always happen to be reciprocated, and people who are infatuated may be angry when the object of their affection doesn’t return their feelings.Infatuation can be dramatic, intense, and all-consuming. Read on to learn how to spot the differences between love and infatuation.

The 10 Easy Ways to Spot Love Vs. Infatuation

Below, you’ll find ten ways to tell the difference between love and infatuation.

  1. Love is not about being perfect; it’s about being together.
  2. Love is considerate.
  3. Love is about a deeper connection.
  4. Love takes time; infatuation is instant.
  5. Love is genuine and selfless.
  6. Love is timeless. You may always love someone, even if you’re apart, and your feelings may last beyond death.
  7. Love is refreshing; infatuation takes a lot of energy.
  8. Love is confident; infatuation is insecure.
  9. Love encourages growth.
  10. Love goes beyond sex; infatuation is often physical.

In the early stages of a relationship, it can be hard to tell if you’re in love. When Googling phrases like “Am I in love,” you’ll likely see posts highlighting infatuation's symptoms and calling it love. With all of those hormones, we’re so fired up that we often can’t think about much else. At that point, it can be hard to tell the difference between love and lust.

Love isn’t something you can identify with a quick quiz; you just know. It’s a feeling of commitment and a conscious decision; this is where love and infatuation differ. Love means investment.

You don’t need constant reassurance of their love. You think about their interests alongside your own; sometimes, you’ll even put their needs first. Even if you’re angry or disagree with them you still love them. If you’re only infatuated with a person, then it’s likely a small disagreement can be enough to change your feelings.

How To Deal With Infatuation

In time, most infatuations will taper off on their own. However, when infatuation becomes an obsession or leads to stalking, it’s reasonable to be concerned. Stalking is serious, scary, and dangerous.

If there are other existing mental disorders, they should be treated concurrently. If the behavior becomes dangerously obsessive (like stalking), then legal intervention and a safety plan should be considered.

Know that only licensed professionals should handle situations like this. If you think you may be developing an unhealthy infatuation, then it’s important to get help as soon as possible.

Online Therapy Could Be The Answer

Learn About The Difference Between Love And Infatuation

When infatuation is at play, working with a licensed counselor can be away to move forward. Dating can be hard, but working with a counselor can help. The licensed counselors at BetterHelp can meet with you online according to your schedule from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. .

Therapy For Obsessive Love

There are various types of pathologies when it comes to relationships and love. Luckily, there are effective treatmentsthat can also give you a sense of feeling calm and in control rather than obsessed. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one option.

The Benefits Of Online Therapy

As discussed above, therapy is an effective way to treat obsessive love and jealousy. There’s no need to sit in traffic or take time out of your busy day to drive to your appointment; as aBetterHelp patient, you can speak with your licensed therapist from wherever you have an internet connection. BetterHelp’s licensed therapists have helped people with infatuation and obsessive love. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“Mark is an amazing therapist. He listens so well and has such valuable insight intomale and female perspectives and issues while also not passing judgment. I have only just begun, but he has already given me so many great takeaways to improve my relationships and situations. I am filled with gratitude, and I would highly recommend him to anyone!!”

“I really enjoyed my sessions with Dr. Anstadt. He helped me see how one issue was affecting multiple aspects of my life. He has greatly improved my relationships with the people I’m closest to and even the way I approach work. I have seen a huge difference in my relationships already, and I have several tools to help me manage the issues I started seeking therapy for. I cannot express how thankful I am to Dr. I Anstadt!”

In Conclusion

Infatuation and love are two different things, but it’s not always easy to know which is which. If you’re struggling with infatuation and need help moving on, reach out to one of our compassionate online therapists today. One day you’ll be able to find a love connection that will truly satisfy you. Take the first step today.

For additional help & support with your concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started