Is it butterflies or anxiety? Love at first sight or a classic case of lovebombing? When navigating the early stages, we all want to know: is it infatuation or love? It’s easy to get dizzied by our own emotions when falling for someone new, as red flags are eclipsed by rose colored lenses and you don’t know if it’s lust or the real deal.

Having crushes in grade school was definitely fun, but as we get older, our attention becomes much more precious. Unless you’re having a hot girl summer, you don’t want to waste your time on fleeting passion that will burn out just as quickly as it ignited. As you navigate the dating scene, here’s a comprehensive guide to reference on whether or not you’re dealing with infatuation vs love.

The Difference Between Infatuation vs Love

Because of the overlap, it’s easy to get confused about whether or not you’re experiencing infatuation vs love. The two invoke a sense of passion, connection and romance. However, the distinction is crucial.

Infatuation relies heavily on fantasy. You spend most of the time you have together romanticizing the idea of them or the potential of your future. Based on the idealization of the person, it’s less about the reality of them and more about what they could be.

Love takes every bit into account: the potential, the reality, and all of the nuance in between. It’s an active choosing based on real human connection, flaws and all. 

Healthy love burns slowly while infatuation is immediate and all at once. While you can certainly feel swept off your feet or “head over heels” with someone you truly do love, feeling these emotions quickly and intensely could be signs of infatuation vs love.

It’s important to note that both play an important role in our love lives. If you’re here for a good time not a long time, in your dating app era, or playing the game, infatuation is the only hit of dopamine you need. However, if you’re wanting to build something lasting with someone, you’ll definitely want to be able to discern between the two.

How To Know It’s Infatuation

Long-term relationships don’t typically survive on infatuation alone, usually living within the sweet spot of 18 months to three years. If you suspect that you may be infatuated with someone, or that someone may be infatuated with you, here are some signs to look out for:

You Put Them on a Pedestal 

The chase brings excitement, and idolizing someone for any extended period of time will have you blind to their flaws. You may perceive them as a perfect being, perhaps even superior to you as you yearn for them to choose you.

You’re Actively Ignoring Boundaries

If you’ve had boundaries that you’re suddenly tossing out of the window, it could be a sign of infatuation vs love. The rush and thrill can have you thinking less about consequence and more about feeling good immediately.

There’s a Level of Performance

Attraction within infatuation tends to be more superficial, choosing the person based on looks or surface level attributes. This may lead you to portray a more performative version of yourself, overthinking how they perceive you rather than just being your authentic self.

There’s Some Lovebombing

Often seen as a pattern in narcissistic relationships, lovebombing happens when you shower the other person in unrealistic adoration before actually getting to know them. Though the flattery certainly feels good, it can often be excessive.

How To Know It’s Love

From platonic love, to romantic love to self love, it’s the feeling we all crave, no matter what shade it comes in. If you’re not sure whether or not the suitor in your life is the real deal, look out for these signs:

You Feel a Sense of Home 

When you’re within their presence, you feel as if you’re at home. There’s a blanket of safety and comfort, similar to the kind you’d feel around a best friend or cherished family member.

You Can Be Yourself 

There’s no need to be anyone but yourself, since the connection stems from soul rather than status. Whether that means being silly and child-like, or stoic and introspective, you feel comfortable enough to let yourself truly be seen.

You Celebrate Their Flaws

It’s not about ignoring their shortcomings, but rather, actively choosing to love them within the awareness of their imperfections. There’s an unconditional acceptance of their individuality, and it may even make you like them more.

Intentions are Clear

In courtship, it’s important to be communicative on what your desires and intentions are. Being vulnerable enough to open your heart and be honest about what you both want elicits an intimacy you’d more typically see in love vs infatuation.

Don’t Be Discouraged

If you still aren’t quite sure where you land on the infatuation vs love spectrum, the only way to find out is to keep going and remain communicative. Though not every couple experiences that love-at-first-sight rush, infatuation can oftentimes be the first stage of true love. Be sure to protect your heart while enjoying the ride.