How To Know If It's Real Love Versus Infatuation With These 16 Key Differences

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woman and man understanding infatuation vs love

We don't often think of infatuation versus love when we first find ourselves attracted to someone new. Instead, we spend a lot of free time thinking about them and fantasizing about what being in a relationship with them will be like.

During the initial phase of dating, it can be difficult to determine if both of your blossoming interest is true love or simply an infatuation.

After all, there are distinct differences between love and infatuation.

RELATED: 8 Fundamental Differences Between Love And Lust (So That When You Say 'I Love You' You Know You Really Mean It)

What's the difference between infatuation and love?

Infatuation is typically present during the early phases of dating and during the beginning of the relationship.

Meanwhile, love is something that takes time to build. It requires a commitment as well as nurturance from both partners.

Infatuation is irrational and focused almost entirely on physical appearance, assets, popularity, or wealth. It doesn’t even scratch the surface of the other person's exterior, nor does it have a desire to delve deeper than the surface.

Infatuation happens quickly, as it stems from an illusion and an illusion does not require reasons or a foundation.

In the beginning stages of a relationship, infatuation can look and feel a lot like love.

However, as time progresses in a dating relationship, the distinction between the two can become alarmingly clear.

Partners that have a real interest in each other will begin to ask more personal questions. They want to know each other’s likes, dislikes, interests, long-term goals, family planning, and more.

People who are infatuated are not interested in getting to know the other person beyond what they can see and what they already know.

Infatuation is a short-term fixation, but love is enduring.

Infatuation has a short shelf-life — it does not have the ability to grow and thrive.

In comparison, love is enduring, flexible, and accommodating to change. True love can weather the storm we call life.

Although it is not unheard of that infatuation can evolve into love — as lust is often an initial step toward attachment — sometimes infatuation just stays infatuation.

If both partners desire a causal relationship with no interest in developing a long-term committed relationship, then this is the type of relationship that's fine for both parties.

However, if one partner is seeking something more substantial than a relationship built on physical attributes, wealth, or popularity, this relationship will not work.

RELATED: The 8 Major Differences Between Being 'In Lust' And 'In Love'

Here are 16 key differences between genuine love and infatuation.

1. Love endures changes, infatuation does not.

Infatuation is fleeting and does not respond well to change.

2. Infatuation is age-oriented.

Love has no limit when it pertains to age and grows to accommodate.

3. Infatuation occurs quickly.

Sometimes infatuation develops at first sight. Love is a gradual process.

4. Love requires commitment.

Commitment and nurturance from both partners is present in real love. Infatuation does not want or desire a commitment.

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5. Infatuation craves physical affection.

Physical intimacy is needed to maintain interest with infatuation. True love does not make itself contingent on physical displays of affection.

6. Infatuation brings out obsession and jealousy.

Love brings out understanding and trust.

7. Infatuation is shallow.

Infatuation is as deep as a puddle, but genuine love runs deep and extends outward.

8. Real love is generous and trusting.

Infatuation is possessive and distrustful.

9. No secure foundation exists with infatuation. 

Infatuation is like walking on shaky ground; love is solid and strong.

10. Genuine love is timeless.

Infatuation follows a finite timeline, but love is forever.

11. Love grows with friendship.

Infatuation grows with desire.

12. Infatuation wanders from person to person.

Real love is monogamous. Infatuation is never content with one person.

13. An obsession with perfection is key to infatuation.

Infatuation thinks love should be perfect. Love knows no one is perfect and remains anyway.

14. Love is considerate and thoughtful.

Infatuation is guided by reckless and impulsive emotions.

15. Forgiveness is love.

Infatuation holds grudges.

16. Infatuation is mainly driven by physical appearance.

Infatuation is about finding someone beautiful on the outside. Love is about finding someone beautiful on the inside.

It's important to identify what you want out of a relationship, rather than embarking on a relationship and trying to figure it out later. And if you don't have the time, energy, or desire to engage in a committed relationship, make that clear early on.

Long-term committed relationships are not for everyone. 

Partners should make their desires and intentions clear during the early phase of dating, so each person has the opportunity to decide if this is the type of relationship they want. 

Having an honest discussion about what each partner is looking for eliminates a lot of confusion and hurt feelings down the line.

Look at the reality of the person you're dating, not what you want them to be.

RELATED: Your Answers To These 20 Questions Reveal If You're Really In Love (Or Just In Lust)

Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford is a psychologist who has engaged in extensive work and research on familial relationships, family trauma, and dysfunctions. To know more, visit Family Matters Counseling Group.

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