How to Tell If It's Love or Infatuation

By Rebecca Grandahl

Take a moment to think back to one of the first times you ever felt like you were “in love.” What emotions come to mind? How did you feel with and without that person in your life? Were you obsessed with them or did you simply care about their well-being? Be honest in your reflections. You never know if you were truly in love, or just infatuated with your partner at the time.

My first-ever relationship was with someone who I knew for barely a week before we started “dating.” I was 15 at the time, and he was 16. Quite quickly, I began to develop strong feelings of attachment and a desire to be with him all the time. I even lost a lot of my friends because I spent so much time with him, and I prioritized him over everything else. I was lost in a world of obsession and “addictive love.”

We lasted for about two years before we eventually broke it off. I was devastated, or at least I thought I was. Looking back on it now, most of the things I was feeling after that breakup were more along the lines of symptoms of addiction withdrawal. I hadn’t been in love with him at all – I had been completely infatuated.

Love is a beautiful experience that is grown for someone else’s personhood. It should be healthy, not controlling. Love is about caring for another person’s happiness, whether or not it includes yourself. Think about what this means! Maybe you feel love for someone when you watch them participate in something they’re passionate about. Maybe you feel love for someone just watching them sleep, or eat a pie they really enjoy. It can be so simple, but recognizing that you care about that person simply being happy is what can often give away that those powerful, positive feelings are truly love.

Many people who are infatuated in a relationship might feel addicted to their partner, or feel lost if they go for more than a few hours without talking to them. Feelings of passion and admiration for the other partner might be extremely blinding and short-lived.

If you’re in a relationship and feel unsure about what you’re feeling, take the time to ask yourself a few questions. Do you feel distraught when going without your partner for a few days, or do you miss them but feel happy knowing that they are doing fine? How do you handle letting things go, and how does that translate into your relationship? If you truly love someone, and they end up being better off without you, are you able to say, “This sucks, but I’m okay letting them go knowing that they are happy even without me as a part of their life.” If not, why is that?

Keep in mind that just because you find yourself or someone else to be infatuated with someone, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Infatuation is often a sign of immaturity which can be grown out of, so long as the person is willing to learn how to healthily love others. This comes with learning how to let go of things, love-life related or otherwise, as well as learning how to be comfortable with one’s own self-worth.

Relationships are extremely complicated, and there’s often a multitude of circumstances at play. However, feelings and emotions are often the drivers behind the wheels of relationships. It’s critical to pay attention to what you are feeling, how you are feeling it, and why. Emotions don’t make you weak – as a matter of fact, they’re a sign that you’re alive! So don’t be afraid to look into them for the sake of your health and your partner’s health.


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