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Are you in love, lust or infatuated?

When it comes to meeting the love of your life, movies (particularly Bollywood!), books and the media have all done a great job in portraying this as an instant connection that you will have with another. From the moment that your eyes meet, you will know that he or she is the one for you. But in reality does this romantic notion really exist? And more importantly, do these ideals serve us well in the real world?

Have you ever experienced sparks of electricity running up and down your body when you have just met someone? The very thought of them makes you tingle and is a turn on. When you have this instant connection with someone, it’s easy to believe that they are the perfect person for you. After all, it’s not an every day occurrence and instant chemistry like this does not come around often. So it’s got to be love at first sight, hasn’t it? Unfortunately not. It’s more likely to be lust. Typically, in these types of situations as you experience the ‘highs’ of these overwhelming feelings, you tend to overlook the compatibility of the relationship. Even if doubts do start to creep in, it’s easy to convince yourself that this person is right for you because of the strong chemical connection. But the reality is that a healthy relationship cannot be sustained primarily on physical chemistry. By ignoring your doubts, you risk being in an unsuitable relationship because you have mistaken love for lust at first sight.

On par with lust, we have infatuation - commonly defined as a "foolish and usually extravagant passion, love, or admiration". When you’re infatuated with someone, the strong emotions that you experience can again be misconstrued as love. The feelings will almost be instant, rather than grow over time. They tend to be based on ideals & fantasies (thereby ignoring the real relationship in front of you) and on superficial reasons such as someone’s looks, status or behaviour. There is also a tendency to put the object of your affection on a pedestal. So you end up for example being more in 'love' with the idea of dating someone who is a hot shot lawyer, who has the perfect body or life. But what happens when this person stops living up to your ideals and they put on weight or are made redundant? At some level, you also believe that by being with this person your life will be fixed and complete. However, healthy relationships complement, not complete your life and negate your flaws. In extreme cases of infatuation, fearing that you may lose the love of your life and the potential of having a perfect life, you may even commit and end up getting married too quickly without actually getting to know the person properly. Unfortunately, if you were never compatible to start with, it’s unlikely that marriage will change that.

How many second dates have you not gone on because you felt that there was no spark or chemistry, although you felt like you got along relatively well? The reality is that the 'spark' and 'chemistry' can actually grow if you take the time to get to know someone. Please note I am not suggesting that you enter a long-term relationship without this, but simply go on a few dates to see if it materialises if you get along with someone. So for example, think about how you have made a good friend. He or she first started out as a stranger in a crowd. You then engaged in a conversation and as you started to discover the things that you had in common, you exchanged contact details to stay in touch. You met up again and enjoyed one another’s company so continued doing so regularly and bonding along the way. Did you look at this person instantly and know that they would be trusted good friend? Probably not, it was a gradual process and a bond that grew over time and romantic relationships are no different. Chemistry and attraction are not always instant but can ignite if you take the time to get to know someone and discover that you have common interests, passions, values and so forth.

You would be hard pushed to find someone who wouldn’t like to know whether a person is the love of their life from the moment that they meet. But the reality is that despite what the movies depict, love grows over time as you start getting to know someone as a whole person. It’s not based solely on superficial reasons like status, looks or body. Being in a loving healthy relationship complements our lives; using a relationship to complete ourselves or hide our flaws, is not love. Whilst physical chemistry is an important part of a relationship, if it is the only area of compatibility then a long-term relationship is unlikely to ensue. Of course there’s nothing wrong in dreaming & having hopes of meeting your prince charming or princess, but it’s equally important to be mindful that lust and infatuation is more likely to happen at first sight, than true love. That’s not to say that the relationship will not work out, but don’t get blind sighted by these overwhelming emotions and forget to ascertain whether you are also in a compatible relationship.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Alicia Barnhart:

"True love never dies for it is lust that fades away. Love bonds for a lifetime but lust just pushes away."

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Superb article, totally resonated with me!

Love, lust, infatuation - just came across your article now. Nice one! It serves as a good reminder and I think very appropriate for the London single community to read.
Thought they were synonyms... I guess that explains why I am single :-)



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