Falling in Love and Infatuation – How to Tell The Difference?

Most romantic novels, movies or other programs Love and Infatuation (not to mention all of them) show that true love develops from a romantic moment of meeting, through a strong infatuation, sometimes with a series of small trials and torments, until the loved ones reach the stage of “living long and happily”. While the stories based on this scheme sell sensational (especially in the cinema), DilMil.co the so-called real life brings quite different scenarios many times.

Infatuation and falling in love – psychology

One of the researchers who undertook the analysis of a rather complicated issue: what is love and what are its types is the psychologist Robert Sternberg.

In his theory, he describes the types of love and its stages on the basis of a combination of three characteristics: intimacy, passion and commitment. The psychologist notes that a relationship based on one element is less likely to survive than a relationship based on two or more of the elements listed below.

  • Affection / liking –in the case of a relationship, it is about intimate sympathy, thanks to which a person feels connected, warm and closeness, but there is no passion or obligation.
  • Infatuation –What is often referred to as “love at first sight.” According to the Sternberg scale, infatuation is based on passion, but without intimacy (emotional closeness) and without long-term commitments.
  • Empty love –based on commitments, but without intimacy and passion. It is often present in cultures in which marriages are arranged, although it also occurs in Western culture, when, on a wave of strong infatuation, formal obligations occur, unconnected with the development of intimacy.
  • Romantic love– called by other researchers “falling in love”. A bond based on passion and emotional closeness, but without long-term plans / commitments.
  • Life companions –that is, a relationship in which passion has disappeared (or has never been present), but remains: deep commitment, commitments, emotional closeness (intimacy) without physical desire. Long-term commitments differ from sympathy.
  • Full love– based on passion, intimacy and obligations. It can only be a phase that will pass into the option of life companions, or it can last constantly with the conscious DilMil involvement of the parties.

Falling in Love and Infatuation - How to Tell The Difference

Infatuation symptoms – what does infatuation look like?

How to distinguish infatuation from falling in love? The line between them is quite thin, but it is important that you learn to distinguish between them. It can save you from too hasty decisions!

In 1979, Dorothy Tennov was the first to use the term limerence , or infatuation, to denote the first stage of love characterized by the following symptoms:

  • flushing, tremors, palpitations, excitement;
  • intrusive thoughts, fantasizing;
  • paralyzing fear of rejection, end of a relationship;
  • overestimating the good qualities of a loved one and minimizing the negatives;
  • very great longing for the object of affection;
  • feeling of ecstasy in the presence of a loved one;
  • profound mood swings – from ecstasy to agony.

Falling in love or infatuation – how to distinguish them?

Since infatuation is a part / stage of love just like falling in love, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two states – especially if you are not sure if you have ever been fully in love.

In order to bring you closer to the similarities and differences, I will return to Tennov’s concept extended to John Gottman’s later analyzes of falling in love and mature love.

Phase 1: pink bubble

A common stage for infatuation, falling in love and mature love. At this stage of falling in love, our body is flooded with chemical reactions that reinforce our feelings for the other person. This influence is so strong that it is easy to overlook the so-called red flags, and what mainly dominates is passion and the need to spend as much time as possible together. The phase where there is not much difference between being infatuated and falling in love.

Phase 2: bond / intimacy versus crystallization – Love and Infatuation

From this phase on, significant differences begin to emerge between being in love / being romantically in love and infatuated.

In the case of falling in love and love, partners will move towards building intimacy, bonding, trust and emotional closeness.

As for infatuation, the main focus of this phase is to maintain the intensity of positive impressions, avoid rejection, and rationalize negative behavior. In this phase (called crystallization), there is a strong desire to keep the honeymoon period alive without any particular interest in the other side’s insides / values.

Phase 3: Loyalty / Commitment Versus Demotion

In the case of falling in love or mature love, the next stage is building commitment and loyalty, looking for compromises and cultivating passion.

In the case of infatuation, disintegration (degradation) occurs. The main cause is loss of interest, illusion gives way to reality, and one or both partners experience disappointment. Ending is also possible in a situation where one of the people wants to start building an emotional bond / intimacy, and the other wants to stay in the imaginary sphere and is not interested in getting to know the partner better.

When infatuation is dangerous – a toxic relationship

Infatuation is not an inherently unhealthy experience. This is the natural initial phase of falling in love. The problem is that you are only stuck in the phase of your imaginations. Which, combined with a lack of self-confidence, disturb self-esteem and a tendency to emotional interdependence. (you can learn more in my article on emotional dependence on your partner ) can bring you extremely painful experiences. That last for months or even years.

When Infatuation Disappears – What Next?

If infatuation is part of falling in love, and falling in love is complete. With long-term planning / declarations. Then the next stage is fulfill, mature love.

How long does infatuation last? 

There is no unequivocal answer to this question. It can be weeks. Months or even years. Most researchers tend to attribute many years to relationships. At a very young age or those in which there is emotional dependency / interdependence, or the partners are emotionally unavailable and together maintain. The dynamics of infatuation without actually getting to know the other person.

When does falling in love turn into love? – Love and Infatuation

In the case of love and relationships based on it, after the infatuation phase comes the trust-building phase. Of course, this stage, in addition to deepening closeness and intimacy. Can also be full of frustration, irritation, disappointment, sadness or rage. It is a natural part of the process and, according to John Gottman’s research, most conflicts end within two years.

One of the key success factors of this stage, according to Gottman, is empathy. Openness to the needs and well-being of one’s partner.

Couples who manage to survive the two-year period of building. Intimacy and trust most often enter the third phase – building loyalty and commitments.

This phase is about strengthening loyalty, continuing to nurture gratitude. Intimacy, passion, making decisions about joint plans (having a family, formalizing a relationship, also doing business together, etc.). Of course, in this case, it is about mature love. After the second phase, the couple may also decide to break up or go into. The phase of empty love or life companions, as mentioned above.

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Infatuation is natural. Persistent, mature love – no. Love based on intimacy, commitments and passion requires the work and intentional action of two people. Above all, work on yourself and your limitations on the way to a strong, lasting partnership. If you see that your relationships are getting stuck in infatuation or in love. It’s time to take a closer look at what causes. It – fear of closeness, abandonment, showing. The truth about yourself? If you need support, sign up for an initial. Free consultation and together we will work out the best solution for you.

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