Love vs. Infatuation
By Nate Webster, LMHC
Understanding the difference between love and infatuation is important. The two get confused on a regular basis, but have very different definitions. There are three differences between love and infatuation.
Love is about mutually giving, infatuation is about individualistically receiving
Infatuation is about getting what you want out of the relationship and usually results in turning the other person into an object. A kind of romantic, emotional vending machine, where you want them to give you what you want. You want them to say what you want to hear. You want them to feel the way you want them to feel about you. Infatuation generally turns someone into a product, something to be used to get what the person desires. People who are infatuated often have a fantasy in their head and they make the other person an extension of that fantasy, projecting onto them all the characteristics and expectations of that imaginary person in their head. Love, however, is about mutual giving back and forth. Love says that I get some things and give some things, but I never get it all. Love says that I am living my life with this person, but this person isn’t my life. Love does not turn the other person into a vending machine to just get things from. It understands that everyone has their own thoughts, feelings and worldviews, including partners.
Infatuation is short lived, while love lasts
When Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries had a 10 million dollar wedding that lasted 72 days, they couldn’t have given a better example of how short-lived infatuation can be. Infatuation is all about chasing a feeling, it’s a fake love driven by emotional highs, and the buzz that comes from romance. When a relationship or marriage is built on infatuation, the feelings of “love” as well as the relationship will be short-lived. As Kim said herself, she got "caught up in the hoopla.” Unfortunately it seemed that Kris was on a different page saying, “I love my wife… and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make it work”. True love is about commitment despite what will happen in the relationship, while infatuation is about staying together as long as the buzz and high of love are there.
Infatuation wants to rush intimacy, while love wants to explore who the other person is
Whether it is physical or emotion, infatuation likes to rush emotional and physical intimacy regardless of how prepared or unprepared the relationship may be for it. Relationships aren’t much different than a house. You can’t put on the roof if you don’t have the walls and you can’t put on the walls if you don’t have the foundation. Infatuation is always looking to put on the roof before there are even walls or foundations. This may look like sex on the first date or before marriage, or asking personal questions before there is even trust. It may look like moving in or going on vacation together before you even know each other. It may even look like making demands on someone before you are even close or dating. Infatuation tends to be about that fantasy and that rush that comes from romance, thus the tempo and speed of infatuation tends to be dysfunctional. In contrast, true love is about exploring who the other person is. The difference between exploration and rushing is speed. An explorer understands that he doesn’t know everything about the cave he is walking into; that he must respect the cave if he wants to enjoy it. The explorer knows he can only become familiar with the cave once he understands it. Infatuation wants to rush in to see what it can get and in that case, the explorer is usually not concerned about what he breaks in the process.
I hope this Valentine's Day your relationships are filled with love and not just infatuation. However, if you are leaving an infatuated relationship or want help turning your relationship into love, then give us a call at The LifeWorks Group. Counseling is a powerful process that can help you learn, grow and transform the difficult areas in your life.
To schedule an appointment with Nate Webster,
Please call our office at 407-647-7005.