Are You Feeling Infatuation, Lust, Or Love? How To Spot The Difference

If we’re honest, it’s not always easy to understand what exactly we’re feeling in the beginning of a relationship – we just know they’re feelings. But how can we tell if it’s infatuation, lust, or love?

By Keelia Clarkson3 min read
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The early days of most relationships look strikingly similar for the majority of couples: butterflies at every small touch, starry-eyed glances, a hunger to know everything about this person, a desire to spend all our free time together.

The beginning of a relationship is dreamy and thrilling. We find ourselves swept up in a cloud of high emotions, whirling thoughts, and growing affection. As we get more and more attached and attempt to sift through the flurry of feelings we’re experiencing, we might start to wonder what exactly it is that we’re feeling towards him.

We know we like him. We’re attracted to him, find him funny, have enough in common, and always look forward to the next time we’ll see him. But still, we wonder: is it love? Or are we letting ourselves get carried away, and what we’re really feeling is infatuation – or lust? How can we actually tell the difference between infatuation, love, and lust?

Signs It’s Infatuation

It’s not unfair to say that most relationships begin with a period of infatuation – the time where our new boyfriend can do no wrong, when every time we see him it’s butterflies, and we almost feel like we can’t get enough of him. But if a relationship progresses to a more lasting love, this fades away.

The most precarious thing about infatuation is that it really feels like we’re in love, when we’re not.

The most precarious thing about infatuation is that it really feels like we’re in love – every emotion is so sweeping and deep and dramatic that we assume there’s no way we could be feeling this way without it being love. And yet, there’s a difference. Here are some of the signs we might be infatuated rather than in love:

  • Everything is moving very quickly; the relationship isn’t very old, and yet we’re planning what our wedding dress will look like.

  • We put him on a pedestal; nothing he says or does will look bad or even imperfect to us because we only see him with rose-colored glasses.

  • We feel the need to change ourselves in order to keep him around; when we’re infatuated, we’re not as much concerned with the “truth" as we are with continuing the connection, no matter how we achieve that.

  • We can’t stop thinking about him – to the point where it’s like we have no life outside of him.

  • Much of what we know about him is surface level, making it easy to fill in the details with positive assumptions.

Signs It’s Lust

Physical attraction is an important ingredient in romantic relationships; we share a unique kind of physical intimacy with our boyfriend. If we don’t have any kind of physical connection, it’ll be difficult for a long-term relationship to come about.

But this also can’t be the only thing our relationship has going for it. And with our focus on ensuring physical attraction is present, we might start to worry that we’re more deeply in lust than we are in love. Here are a few signs that what we’re feeling is lust:

  • We’re not all that interested in knowing details about his life beyond the surface level.

  • When we think about him, it normally ends up being about his body.

  • Our attraction to him feels intense and, upon reflection, is purely sexual.

  • We don’t have much in common at all and spend most of our time together being physically intimate.

  • There’s no clear direction in which the relationship is headed.

Lust is easily mistaken for a once-in-a-lifetime physical connection with our “soul mate,” but when we’re in lust, the excitement eventually fades, and we find ourselves sitting across from a guy we don’t even necessarily like or know anything about.

Lust is easily mistaken for a once-in-a-lifetime physical connection with our “soul mate.”

Signs It’s Love

Ah, love – if it were simple to define, this article (and many books, songs, and poems throughout history) wouldn’t even exist. Love is a challenging concept and feeling to comprehend because every relationship, and the people involved, are wildly different. Love is offered and received in countless ways. 

While our understanding of love might be difficult to pin down, hence our confusion between infatuation, lust, and love, there are a few ways we can describe and understand what it actually looks like to be in love – to share a real, true, lasting love with someone:

  • We appreciate and admire his best qualities but are willing to be honest about his flaws.

  • We want to know more than his favorite meal  – we want to know about his struggles, thoughts, fears, and desires.

  • We share a physical connection as well as emotional and mental connections.

  • We see the relationship moving in a direction, and we’re excited at the thought of doing life with him.

  • We feel free to be vulnerable and authentic with him.

  • We’re a team – both there for each other to celebrate the highs and weather the lows.

  • We have a deep affection for him that’s unmatched in our other relationships.

Closing Thoughts

Love is more than a feeling – but the same can’t be said of infatuation or lust, both of which are fleeting, incomplete versions of a love-like connection. Love is ultimately a commitment and a choice that comes out of affection, intimacy, friendship, understanding, and respect.

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