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Love or Infatuation

By Barrington H. Brennen, March 9, 2018




What is the difference between love and infatuation?  Some argue that infatuation is a very bad thing.  Other say all you need is love.  I will attempt to clear up that confusion.   In this article when I mention the word “love” I am referring to “true love.”  That is love that is demonstrated with total commitment, understanding and reasoning.  With this in mind, I will share about the difference between infatuation and love.


Infatuation is good.  Yes, it is really good.   More that ninety-five percent of all relationships begin with infatuations.  Infatuation is that first instance when you like what to see.   Love is also good.   True love is eternally good, but relationships do not start on true love.  Some think they are truly in love, but they are not.  True love comes after knowledge.  I can also say that true love comes with the interest to truly get to know the other person.   Infatuation starts without knowledge and is not interested in knowing more.  However, is good only because it gets things started.    But don’t get excited.  Read further.  Infatuation is the “blast off” in a relationship but it has no fuel to keep the engine of the relationship going.  Love is the fuel that takes over the relationship.   


If you keep the relationship riding on infatuation you will burn up the engine.  To put it simply, infatuation is needed only to start with.  Love is needed to live with.

Infatuation is “I like what I see.”  Love is “I see what I like.”  With infatuation there is no indebt evaluation of character.  There is little or no reasoning.  With love there is a reasoning and thinking process that facilitates the decision to be in love.  To repeat, infatuation is “I like what I see.”  However, Love is “I know what I see is for me because I have taken the time to thoroughly know the person and to think about the decision.”


Infatuation is a short-lived passion for someone.  Love is a deep affection for someone that lasts the test of time.  Infatuation can be dangerous because one can be easily fooled that he or she is in love.   One author states that “The problem is that infatuation is a powerful feeling that can make you think you are in love. . . Infatuation is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It sneaks into your relationship and makes you think you've met the one, only to have things blow up in your face before your romance has even gotten off the ground.  And that's because infatuation is just a fantasy. Love is a reality.”   It is so easily to be fooled with infatuation because it feels real, but it is not.  This is especially true for persons who are desperate for a “lover.”   They can be so easily blinded by the need to find a mate that they will not notice the grave flaws in the person or the flaws in their own life that can cripple the relationship. 


In the online article “Infatuation vs. Love,” a social scientist states that “Infatuation is an all-consuming euphoria similar to recreational drug use (addictive chemical reactions in the brain), stupidity (cupidity/greed/lust). It can cause one to risk everything for the next hit of adrenalin.”  This is serious.  Infatuation is so powerful it can put someone in a serious state of jubilation that it ignores rational thinking.


Here’s what is commonly known about infatuation and love.  Infatuation is when you find someone who is absolutely perfect.   Love is when you realize that he or she is not perfect and it doesn’t matter.”   Here is a fundamental reason why this is true: True love has principles that impact feelings. However, infatuation has no feelings and feelings cannot reason.   The traditional way of saying it is that “love is a principle.”  This is true, but many cannot articulate what this means.  This is why is say that true love HAS principles that impact feelings.   These principles are kindness, gentleness, patience, humility, unconditional acceptance, unconditional loving, tolerance, dose not cause pain, is not rude, fair and just (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).   If there is one principle of love that stands out it is patience.   Love takes the time. It can wait and knows that it must wait.  Infatuation cannot wait and does not want to wait.  It is impulsive and inpatient and thinks it knows everything but knows nothing.


Let’s dig a little deeper.  How can you know you are infatuated?  What are the symptoms of infatuation?   One author gives the following as the symptoms of infatuation: “Urgency, intensity, sexual desire, anxiety, high risk choices, reckless abandonment of what was once valued.”   Joseph Muvla in his blog entitled “The Seven Symptoms of Infatuation”  state the following symptoms: impatience, selfishness, sudden withdrawal, sexual demands, abnormal jealously, suspicion and easily taking offence.


Let me share his explanation of just one of these symptoms that I am sure will find most interesting—sexual demands.  “Infatuation never respects the will of another person. In fact, a strong urge to have sex with the person whom you have just met is one of the major symptoms of infatuation. It comes from a strange attraction to the outward appearance of the person. In fact, infatuation is one of the signs that you could be under the control of the spirit of lust. When infatuated, you may have this want to have sex with the person and you will get very emotionally hurt if the person says no.”


With this understanding about love and infatuation it exposes an important question.  At what age should you love someone so that it will lead to a life-long relationship--marriage?  It is clear to me that a teenager’s mind is not ready for true love.  A teenage mind is one that is more apt to infatuation.  Why do I say this?  In an article I wrote in 2008 entitled “Teenagers, Violence, and Culpability” I sited from a research done by the Juvenile Justice Center (USA) on brain development in teenagers.  Here is: “The scientists, to their surprise, discovered that the teenage brain undergoes an intense overproduction of gray matter (the brain tissue that does the “thinking”). Then a period of “pruning” takes over, during which the brain discards gray matter at a rapid rate . . . This process is similar to pruning a tree: Cutting back branches stimulates health and growth.   This continues into the early 20s.”    The article goes on to say: “The evidence now is strong that the brain does not cease to mature until the early 20s in those relevant parts that govern impulsivity, judgment, planning for the future, foresight of consequences, and other characteristics that make people morally culpable. . . .”


Loving is a very serious matter and the teenager’s brain is not wired with the ability to make a permanent decision for loving someone.  Although one can be infatuated at any age, this the only thing a teenager can do.  It is true that a teenager can know that he or she is “in love” and be very serious about it.  However, the teenager is not matured enough to evaluate feelings or does not have the equipment to be able to fully reason about making a decision about a life-long love mate.  Are you in love or are you infatuated?





Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com   or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org   or call 242-327-1980



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