Infatuation: I Think I’m in Love, But Am I?

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If you think you’re in love, you may be in the throes of a new, healthy relationship. Your feelings for your partner could be blossoming in a natural way. But sometimes when you question if you’re in love, your feelings could reflect other things that aren’t necessarily love.

You could be overlooking reality and maybe building up an idealistic vision of your love interest. Maybe you’re beguiled by whom you believe the other person to be and are simply attracted. Or maybe you’re obsessing or lusting after this person.

Sometimes it’s confusing to know exactly what you feel. People often think they’re in love in the early stages of a relationship. In some cases, people paint a rose-colored picture and believe they’re still in love after the relationship has run its course.

This article will discuss attraction, infatuation, lovesickness, lust, and love. You’ll also find a quiz to help you determine if what you’re feeling is something other than love.

During the Attraction Phase

You know when you’re attracted to someone. You flirt with them from across the room and feel affectionately drawn to this person. When we are attracted, our brains release lots of dopamine (the “feel-good” neurotransmitter) and also norepinephrine. As a result, we may feel euphoric.

But due to the norepinephrine, we may also notice an increased heart rate and feelings of arousal or panic. Attraction is associated with the reward pathways in the brain. That might explain the sense of feeling exhilarated and anxious at the same time.

Interestingly, just because we are attracted to someone doesn’t mean we trust them. A recent study examined the relationship between attractiveness, trustworthiness, and desire to date in online dating.

The study surveyed 305 participants between the ages of 17 and 36. All identified as heterosexuals. The results showed that young men who participated liked the more beautified and attractive profiles of women. They also wanted to date those women. At the same time, they considered attractive women to be less trustworthy.

Is It Infatuation?

If you’re questioning if you’re in love, ask yourself how you’re functioning. If you’re in a daze at work dreaming of that perfect guy who goes to Starbucks the same time as you, that’s not a sign of love. It signals infatuation. When you don’t know someone well and deem the other person perfect, that sounds like infatuation.

With infatuation, feelings come on quickly. These feelings are not based on deeply knowing someone. Love usually builds over time.

We love someone even though they’re not perfect. Relationships built on intimacy, bonding, respect, and caring are more emblematic of love.

What Does It Mean to Be Lovesick?

Lovesickness is a real thing. You feel a rollicking sense of enthusiasm and your heart races one minute; then you feel let down and disappointed the next. Your feelings are all over the map when you’re lovesick. You can thank chemicals in your brain for that.

Unmoored, you crave this sense of love. The mood swings have been compared with the mood fluctuations often seen in people with substance use issues. A 2017 study published in Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology indeed found a huge similarity. Researchers concluded love can become addictive in similar ways that drugs are addictive to those who are dependent on drugs.

Common physical signs of feeling lovesick include a lack of sleep, loss of appetite as well as knots in your stomach. These signs are often exhibited at the beginning stages when you first feel like you’re falling for that special one.

These aren’t like butterflies in your stomach when you’re getting ready for your first date. These are more extreme signs of obsessiveness and nervousness.

Lovesickness can also describe your sad longing for the guy you met on a dating app two years ago. Or the despair you feel because you’re dating someone whose love isn’t reciprocated. Maybe worse, it’s not reciprocated in equal measure.

Lovesickness is a condition in which you show signs of impulsiveness, have obsessive thoughts, and maybe even delusions that could relate to mental illness.

Is It Really Lust?

Lust is marked by intense sexual chemistry. Lust can appear at the beginning of a short-term relationship or even be part of a long-term union. You know it’s lust when your attraction is off the charts and your desire for sexual gratification is stronger than almost anything else. The sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) play a major role in lust.

To determine if it’s lust or love keep in mind that lust is based purely on physical attraction. You might not share the same values with this other person. When spending time together, sex is the main focus.

Couples in love are passionate but communicate with a deeper emotional connection. They are committed to each other. Those in love also allow themselves to be vulnerable and value their partner outside of the bedroom.

A Quiz to Determine If You’re In Love

There’s nothing pathological about feeling that you’re in love. Answer the following questions to determine if your feelings are more about attraction, infatuation, lust, and other emotions than love.

  1. Are you obsessively thinking and ruminating about this love of yours?
  2. Are your daily activities impaired and you can’t concentrate on much else?
  3. Are you idealizing the other? Exaggerating your love’s positive qualities?
  4. Is your judgment cloudy because you’re on cloud nine?
  5. Do you feel like you need this person no matter what, therefore are emotionally dependent?
  6. Do you feel like you can’t breathe, think or function if this person is not next to you?
  7. Do you feel euphoria when you feel signs of reciprocated love?
  8. Do you daydream and fantasize about your love to the detriment of your work?
  9. Do you question and doubt yourself?
  10. Are you having difficulty sleeping and/or eating because of your heightened emotions?
  11. Do you feel anxious? Signs might include heart palpitations and shakiness.
  12. Do you feel like you’re on a roller coaster of emotions?
  13. Do you feel like you’re depressed and despairing because your ex broke up with you?
  14. Are you sure that someone you bumped into twice is the love of your life and obsess over that?
  15. Do you make excuses constantly for someone who doesn’t reciprocate your love?
  16. Do you feel like you can’t stop thinking about having sex with this person?
  17. Do you feel like you crave physical contact with this person above almost anything else?

If your answer to most questions is yes, psychologists would say you’re not in love.

What Is Love?

During the advanced stages of a relationship, you have formed a strong attachment with your partner. You care about someone in a way that’s long-lasting. Your bond is meaningful and profound. This person knows your flaws and you trust the other implicitly.

Although lust, attraction, and infatuation can continue to overlap, usually they mark the earlier stages of a romance. When you’re truly in love, you no longer feel a frenzy of moods. Emotions no longer run the gamut from euphoria to anxiety.

When you’re in a deep, meaningful, and intimate relationship, you no longer question if you’re in love. There is a knowing calmness to replace the doubts. One hormone involved in this mature stage of attachment is oxytocin. This neurotransmitter bonds people and makes us feel more stable and connected when we are in love.

A Word From Verywell

While you might be having a difficult time determining if what you feel is love or some other emotion, understand that it's normal to feel all of these emotions at some point during the course of your lifetime. If you find that you are obsessing and ruminating over a current, potential, or even past partner, a therapist will provide a safe, non-judgmental space to help you explore your feelings.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. McGloin R, Denes A. Too hot to trust: Examining the relationship between attractiveness, trustworthiness, and desire to date in online datingNew Media & Society. 2018;20(3):919-936. doi:10.1177/1461444816675440

  2. Earp BD, Wudarczyk OA, Foddy B, Savulescu J. Addicted to love: What is love addiction and when should it be treated?Philos Psychiatr Psychol. 2017;24(1):77-92. doi:10.1353/ppp.2017.0011

By Barbara Field
Barbara is a writer and speaker who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.