NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Is It Love or an Infatuation?

Knowing the difference between love and infatuation can be tricky.  Often, love starts out with that same heady feeling you get when you're infatuated with someone.  You might spend all day fantasizing obsessively about the other person, forget to eat, dream about him or her at night, and talk incessantly about this person to your friends.  But, the main difference is that if it's really love and by this, I mean mature love, over time, it will develop into more than just an obsession and it will be reality based.

Is It Love or Infatuation?

What is Reality Based Love?
What do I mean by "reality based" love?  Well, when you're infatuated with someone, the other person might not even know that you exist.  If you're infatuated, the fact that he doesn't even know you, won't stop you from thinking about him all the time.  But when it's really love, it's based on mutual feelings that you've developed together for each other as you get to know each other.  That's what makes it reality based.

Why?  Because you can't really be in love with someone that you don't know, no matter how intensely you feel your feelings.  And it takes a mutual love relationship to get to really know someone--not just your fantasy of who you think this person is.  If your feelings are for someone relatively new to your life, it can't be one sided and still be considered mature love.  I know some people might disagree with me about this, but I think this is important when you're trying to figure if it's love or infatuation.

Spending time together is important so you get to know each other over time rather than getting carried away with who you each think the other person is in your fantasies.  An infatuation can fizzle out if the person that you fantasized about turns out to be a completely different person.  Then, you know your feelings were for the fantasy rather than the actual person.

Mature Love Grows Over Time as Compared to Infatuation
Mature love usually keeps growing over time, assuming it's nurtured.  Mature love is more stable usually and will be more likely to survive the test of time and life's challenges better than infatuation.

Whereas infatuation often has a painful emotional element to it, especially if the feelings are unrequited, mature love, where there is mutuality, makes you feel good about yourself most of the time.  That doesn't mean that you'll always be happy with this other person.  But, generally, speaking, when it's mutual love, rather than infatuation, its a more positive experience most of the time.

Does This Make Infatuation a Bad Experience?
No, not necessarily.  It depends.  If you can enjoy the feeling of being infatuated and it adds a certain passion and aliveness to your life, these feelings can have positive consequences, as long as you have realistic expectations and understand that it's not love.  Feeling alive and passionate might lead to your making positive changes in yourself and in your life.

If you have unrealistic expectations, as mentioned before, it can be a painful experience.  Obsessions can be hard to deal with over time. They can cause you to neglect important areas in your life as you spend most of your time and mental energy focusing on the object of your infatuation.

It all depends on your attitude.  If you can maintain a healthy attitude about your infatuation, it can be a fun time and you can open you up to new experiences, possibly, even to a mature love the next time around.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.