“What is the difference between love and infatuation?” a student asked recently. I’ve been meaning to write about this, and the student’s question reminded to post my thoughts.
Here are a couple of definitions from dictionary.com:
Infatuate: to inspire or possess with a foolish or unreasoning passion, as of love.
Infatuation: foolish or all-absorbing passion.
Even an online dictionary mentions “love” in the definition (along with “foolish”). Interesting, isn’t it? Because love and infatuation both involve powerful emotions, it is easy to get the two confused.
I’ve looked up a few other articles on “infatuation vs. love.” There are some long, drawn-out explanations. But I’m not interested in writing a thesis—I want to give you a simple, practical way to understand the difference.
This is what I told the student: “I think infatuation tends to be based on an illusion, but love is based on reality.”
I’ve experienced infatuation (yes, I was once a teenager). My passion was based more on my illusion of who she (the object of my desire) was instead of who she really was. Based on my experience and observations, we often get infatuated with people we barely know. We are simply drawn to another’s physical beauty or perceived qualities.
The illusion doesn’t stop there. Infatuation causes us to have unrealistic beliefs regarding relationships. I remember believing my life would be perfect if only she were in love with me. I believed my life would not be complete without her. Infatuation causes us to think this way.
These illusions are what make infatuation temporary. We eventually see that he/she isn’t everything we imagined. Or we simply “burn out” emotionally—we don’t have the energy to sustain our foolish passions indefinitely.
Love, on the other hand, is based on truth and reality. We love someone based on a genuine understanding of who he/she really is. We see the good and the bad, and we love anyway. Our affection grows...