Infatuation vs. Love: How Can You Tell the Difference?

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People sometimes confuse infatuation and love. If you’re in a new romantic relationship and you don’t know the person well, but you think they’re perfect and you have intense feelings for them, you’re likely infatuated. When you are committed to someone on a deep level, you are comfortable together and there is mutual intimacy, trust and respect, you are likely in love.

What Are the Differences Between Infatuation and Love?

How do you know if it’s real love or short-lived passion? There are a number of clues. You can’t fully be in both states at the same time, although it is possible to experience both in the same relationship.

At the beginning of a relationship, if you’re mesmerized by the new person or  believe you’ve experienced love at first sight, odds are you are infatuated. When you’re enthralled by romance and the fantasy of who this person is, you’re infatuated.

Infatuation is marked by euphoria, irrational feelings, lust, and shallowness. Some people claim they’re lovesick and their heart races one minute, then they’re down and depressed the next. They lose sleep or have no appetite. During infatuation, you might also have an increased heart rate and feel both aroused and anxious due to the release of norepinephrine.

But when you’re in love, you are seeing life through a different lens. There's a calm knowing and a bond. You’ve gotten to know the good and the bad about your partner, and your partner knows the genuine you.

Healthy relationships consist of couples who have open communication, honesty, respect, affection and devotion to their partners, which is what you have when you’re in love. If you’ve cultivated a healthy attachment, then you’re truly in the love state.

Interestingly, those in love often also have a wonderful friendship. Scientific research on the value of friendship within romantic relationships found that partners who specifically valued their friendship were more affectionate, committed and supportive of their significant others than those who didn’t consider themselves friends.

Study results revealed that valuing this friendship component of a relationship is a strong positive predictor of love, sexual gratification, and romantic commitment.

What Are the Signs of Infatuation and Love?

If you want to distinguish between both emotional states, here’s a good place to start. These are signs that you’re infatuated with someone:

  1. You tell your friends you’re head-over-heels in love.
  2. You quickly end up craving the person and maybe even become obsessed.
  3. You’re dazed, overthinking all the time and anxious without them.
  4. You have physical manifestations like sweaty palms and a nervous stomach.
  5. You create fantasies in your mind about being with them.
  6. You have an idealized vision of the person and believe they’re perfect.
  7. You have a superficial relationship.

You’ll notice that each of the following indications for love are the opposite of those listed above for infatuation. See this list below to determine common signs of love:

  1. You tell your friends you are serious about this person.
  2. Your feelings develop slowly.
  3. You feel content with this person and at ease when they’re not around.
  4. Although you’re happy to see them, you don’t get nervous, anxious or confused.
  5. You create real-life scenarios about your future together.
  6. You have a realistic vision of the person and love them despite their faults and imperfections.
  7. You have a deep relationship based on shared intimacy, vulnerability and trust.
  • Superficial

  • You view your partner as perfect

  • You see your partner's best side

  • You feel insecure

  • You feel excited and obsessed

  • You have high-flying feelings

  • You idealize/fantasize

  • You don't know if the relationship is temporary

  • Deep

  • You view your partner as human

  • You see your partner as a whole person

  • You feel secure

  • You feel safe and supported

  • You have peaceful, content feelings

  • You are realistic

  • You commit to making the relationship last

Can Infatuation Turn Into Love?

Infatuation can be the first stage of love. That doesn’t mean everyone, however, needs to experience the adrenaline rush of infatuation before progressing to love. If you are in the infatuation phase, however, rest assured that it can lead to a more stable and mature state later on.

The problem is that some people love to feel the passionate high of being infatuated. They become addicted to exciting beginnings and the infatuation stage. Let’s face it. When you don’t know a person yet, you’ve embarked on an exhilarating adventure. Love can become addictive in the same way that drugs are addictive. Love addiction, which isn’t really about true love, is a dysfunctional modality.

In research that included 300 participants who were in romantic relationships, scientists analyzed factors associated with love addiction, paying particular attention to adult attachment patterns and self-esteem. Participants completed an online survey including the Love Addiction Inventory-Short form, Relationship Questionnaire, and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.

Results showed significant and positive associations between fearful adult attachment and love addiction. These relationships were also completely mediated by self-esteem.

If you want to move past infatuation into love, you have to be willing to slow down and go deeper. You’ll need to be open, to share vulnerabilities and weaknesses and let go of the fantasies. Once you get to know who your partner truly is and you let them know who you really are, you might find yourself falling in love.

How to Stay Infatuated With Your Partner—In a Healthy Way

In authentic love, you share your values, hopes, and dreams with your significant other. You can rely on one another during crises and cheer each other on during good times. You can be comfortable with each other and devoted to the relationship for the long haul.

That doesn’t mean you can’t stay infatuated with your partner, too. You can still spice your relationship up and keep it exciting. There are some surprising ways to improve your relationship like going on adventurous dates and choosing to have novel experiences that will remind you of your days of infatuation.

Explore physical and non-physical ways to increase sexual intimacy. Focus your time on sexual chemistry, role-playing and fantasy. You can also reminisce about your love story including how you first met and when you first felt attraction for your partner. Strolls down memory lane can remind you of your connection and reignite your passion.

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. VanderDrift LE, Wilson JE, Agnew CR. On the benefits of valuing being friends for nonmarital romantic partners. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 2013;30(1):115-131.

  2. Gori A, Russo S, Topino E. Love Addiction, Adult Attachment Patterns and Self-Esteem: Testing for Mediation Using Path AnalysisJ Pers Med. 2023;13(2):247. Published 2023 Jan 29. doi:10.3390/jpm13020247

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