Love or Infatuation?

Love or Infatuation?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the stark differences between love and infatuation.

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Now, let’s talk about love and infatuation and how to distinguish one from the other.

So much has been written about love in poetry, music, books, songs and films. Many people have strived to define and even categorize love in its many forms: puppy love, mature love, platonic love, spiritual love, unconditional love, agape love, maternal love, paternal love, tragic love, etc.

There are four different Greek words and terms for love:

Philia refers to love in friendship; the caring and concern for one’s fellow human beings. The city of Philadelphia gets its name from Philia and thus it is known as the city of brotherly love.

Storge – is parental love and affection felt towards one’s children or offspring.

Eros is sensual love; the love of attraction; the concept of being “in love” but it can also refer to an evolved appreciation of one’s beauty inside and out.

Agape – is an unselfish love; unconditional love – when you give without expecting anything in return.

Many people confuse love and infatuation, particularly in the early stages of dating and courting.

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You might recall the famous movie and musical “Grease” and the hit song “Summer Nights.” Although the song refers to teen love and the concept of magnetic attraction, it also sums up many aspects of infatuation:

Danny: Summer lovin’ had me a blast

Sandy: Summer lovin’ happened so fast

Danny: I met a girl crazy for me

Sandy: Met a boy cute as can be

Thunderbirds: Tell me more, tell me more

Doody: Did you get very far?

Pink Ladies: Tell me more, tell me more

Marty: Like does he have a car?

…Frenchy: Was it love at first sight?

Thunderbirds: Tell me more, tell me more

Kenickie: Did she put up a fight?

…Danny: We made out under the dock

Sandy: We stayed out ’till ten o’clock

Both: Summer fling, don’t mean a thing, but uh-oh those summer nights

Sandy: He got friendly, holding my hand

Danny: While she got friendly down in the sand

Sandy: He was sweet, just turned eighteen

Danny: Well she was good you know what I mean

Both: Summer heat, boy and girl meet, but uh-oh those summer nights

…Jan: How much dough did he spend?

…Sandy: It turned colder – that’s where it ends

Danny: So I told her we’d still be friends

Sandy: Then we made our true love vow

Danny: Wonder what she’s doing now

Both: Summer dreams ripped at the seams,
bu-ut oh, those su-ummer nights….

Everyone: Tell me more, tell me more!

I often explain infatuation as romantic love – when you only care about what you can receive and feel with this person. So what are the other signs and differences between love and infatuation?

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Love – The romance builds and develops slowly as the couple get to know each other; this can take time – months or even years.

Infatuation – As summed up in “Summer Nights”, the romance happens very fast, before the couple get to know each other – this can happen in a matter of hours or just a few days.


Love – Attraction is based on all aspects of the other person’s characteristics and traits – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual;

Infatuation – Attraction is based purely on the other person’s physical appearance and characteristics Sandy says, I met a boy cute as can be.”


Love reveals an unselfish caring about the interests and wellbeing of the other person

Infatuation is selfish and almost parasitic; best summed up by “What can this person/relationship do for me?”


Love focuses on the one partner, thus leading to commitment and loyalty.

Infatuation focuses on whoever can satisfy the need in the moment – usually several people – and thus usually lacks loyalty and fidelity.


Love motivates you to want to be a better person; In the famous movie, “As Good as it Gets”, Jack Nicholson plays a bitter, cynical man who struggles to give any compliments because he has lived by criticizing people and finally he tells Helen Hunt “You make me want to be a better man.”

Infatuation has a destructive and disorganizing effect; one or both partners lose interest in other areas of life or forego responsibilities; obsessions are created.


Love allows you to see the other person as a whole being – “warts and all”; viewing him/her realistically with all of their faults and still loving and accepting them as they are. This does not refer to allowing the other person to mistreat you.

Infatuation is denial, ignoring any doubts or flaws not out of love but rather out of  a desperate desire to create a fantasy and fill the inner emptiness; the denial and delusion lead to the belief that the other person seems perfect.


Love – Of course, there are arguments but you are able to reasonably resolve them with communication and open discussion.

Infatuation – Arguments begin almost from the outset of the relationship, are more frequent and almost never truly resolved. Instead they are ignored, washed over and suppressed with a kiss or hug. Eventually, resentment sets in and old unresolved arguments and issues are raised each time there is a new argument.


Love is selfless: There is a natural desire to share and give to the other person; you enjoy giving and you describe the relationship in terms of “we.”

Infatuation is selfish. You focus on satisfying your needs and desires (often physical) and focus on how much the other person can give to you; you think in terms of “me.”


Love survives time apart as well as physical and geographical separation; love survives because of a deeper bond and foundation and because of mutual appreciation and respect.

Infatuation doesn’t survive separation or time apart; the foundation is primarily whimsical and the flame quickly dies or either partner quickly turns to someone else to replace the need for the attention and physical connection.

Termination and transformation

Love ends slowly and usually transforms into a friendship.

Infatuation ends the way it began – rapidly – and rarely transforms into friendship (of course, resentment, bitterness, rejection or a lack of forgiveness can also create this result.)

Infatuation in adulthood is not love but rather an urge, a sense of desperation to fill a need (attention, emptiness, low self-esteem, validation, etc.) Infatuation is always one-sided and just as the season of summer reveals, the heat begins and ends abruptly. Love, on the other hand, matures and develops; love survives and continues evolving and transforming just like the four seasons – spring, summer, winter and fall.

If you would like to comment on this newsletter you can post your comment below.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

Facebook Comments
8 replies
  1. Avatar
    Nikki says:

    What would be your take on someone who you dated when you were 14, they moved away without ever having wanted to end the relationship. Occasional contact kept happening for years, along with a single sexual encounter (in which the other party cheated on her husband). After being in a long term relationship, engaged, and a child together, this person and my fiance started talking again, VERY quickly (within days) turned into a long distance affair, all lovey dovey talk and fantasy (we’re going to get married, buy a house, have kids, we’ll be so happy together.) Stopped immediately after it was found out. She remarried, then had another long distance affair with him-same thing, within a day or two of talking again, same talk, though more love talk this time around. He stopped it before I ever found out. Then he just ups and leaves a year later, for her, after a weekend with her, saying she’s his true love and its always been her and he has a fire inside of him when he’s with her. He told me he kept talking to her because whenever he’d get depressed or stressed, it made him feel better (which does follow in line with the affairs timelines). I feel like they’re pretty doomed to fail (which I do hope, because our baby is having to deal with long distance visitation…and because I want them to hurt too!), between her cheating on her husbands, his cheating on me, the fact that they were only together all of 3 days before moving in together…she’s also my polar opposite, doesn’t like any of the same things he does from what I’ve heard, dresses differently, looks completely different…things he had liked in me. But is this infatuation? The fact that it lasted so long is what throws me off. But his description of his feelings…the fire, that when he’d start talking to her she was all he could think about, all the time, that he loved me but more like a best friend, and now, he feels more confident, outgoing, he’s showing her off to everyone despite everyone having obvious major judgement (since, ya know, he left his family for her), he doesn’t sleep much cause he wants to stay up all night talking to her, etc. Infatuation??

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Nikki,

      It makes complete sense why you are feeling hurt and even wanting him to hurt as a result of the multiple betrayals.
      Your question is simply does this man love this other woman or is he simply infatuated. It is possible that it has lasted so long that it is more than infatuation. However, the real test and answer will show up in about 18 months; passionate love usually fades within 18 months to 36 months after the relationship has begun. Also read my article about “passionate or companionate love?”

      If he turned to her during times of depression, he could have been using her to escape or distract himself or he had a very close emotional connection with her. Again, very soon, you will know whether or not it is love or infatuation based on how he responds to her when he is with her he and he feels depressed. Where will he turn? The novelty of the romance will wear off and then he will be forced to face himself and whether or not he truly loves her or just her image?

      The other challenge they now face is whether or not they will be able to trust each other given they have both cheated on their respective partners.

      I hope this helps. Also, ask yourself why you gave him multiple chances?

      All the best,

  2. Avatar
    Sierra Bender says:

    Hello Patrick,
    Love this newsletter. It is clear, mature and a healthy definiton of Love. Love is not just an emotion it is the most powerful energy and source with action and responsibility behind it. As a culture most of us are taught an immature love or love just as an emotion, what I will get out of it or what will this person bring to me. Today it is now the soul mate new age movement that creates a fantasy and illusion of Love instead the reality of Love. I have learned for myself when I have mastered loving myself I will attract this love for I am this love.

    Thank you always for your wisdom and desire to creat change and balance.


  3. Avatar
    Peggy says:

    Hi Patrick,

    I would like your opinion on something similar to this entry…

    I’ve hooked up with this man a few times within the last year. A relationship did not develop any further than that however, I do like this man more than as a “hook-up buddy” or even booty call. A mutual friend of ours said recently to me that he would like to start fresh and feels terrible for how he’s treated me in the past as just a woman he’s slept with. Does this mean he’s implying an actual relationship with me to begin, or could he be just all talk, feeling guilty so he has to say that? Thank you for your time.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Peggy,
      there is no meaning or significance to what your friend said, unless and until the man says it directly to you. If this man feels guilty (“terrible”) for the way he treatd you, then he will call you or contact you. If he doesn’t do that, and if he chooses not to apologize directly to you, then it is just ‘hearsay.”

      Please also remember, that a person can only treat you the way you let them; to the extent that you let them. You said: “I do like this man more than as a “hook-up buddy” or even booty call.” But why did you let him treat you this way? I recently was speaking to a friend – a dating and relationship expert and I asked her the same question I am about to ask you. First, let me say that she was bamboozled why a man was no returning her calls. She also told me she had known him three weeks and had slept with him. Now, I think the answer is obvious and even more so for a so-called dating and relationship expert, but, it wasn’t. I asked her “Are you a Volkswagen or a Ferrari? If you are a Ferrari then act like one. Men value a Ferrari because it is hard to get; extremely valuable. Are you hard to get? Are you valuable? if so, then treat yourself like one. Be valuable. Oh, and remember, too, if you had or were a Ferrari, would you let just anyone use it, ride it or drive it? Or would you carefully choose its driver?”

      The final point is that once a man or anyone has formed an image of you in their mind, it takes a long time and a lot of work to change that image. In other words, he probably still only sees you as “a “hook-up buddy” or even booty call.” Start fresh and allow someone who treats you like a Ferrari to come into your life!

      All the best,

  4. Avatar
    Marina Livis says:

    I’d like to inquire further into the part of your article where you talk about love as it relates to Termination & Transformation. You say that love usually transforms into a friendship, but I’ve heard it’s best to cut off all contact with former flames/lovers/boyfriends/girlfriends. I find that difficult to do especially when I still feel love for that person and would like to know how they’re doing and check in with them from time to time. What are your thoughts on this idea? Is it better to never speak to a former love again and just move on, or to build a friendship on what used to be a romantic relationship?

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Marina,

      Yes, I said that love usually transforms into a friendship. And yes, you are also right that depending on the circumstances, “it’s best to cut off all contact with former flames/lovers/boyfriends/girlfriends” – until you have resolved your own feelings and challenges. Sometimes we know that we are not suited to each other and we find it hard to let go because there is still the tug of romance, that tug from the heart. In that case, we may need to cut them off until we are clear again and we can then become friends. I also teach that whatever you began the relationship with is what you will end the relationship with. If you began as friends and built a foundation on friendship then yes, you after you have ended it, you will eventually transform it into a friendship. Have you heard how some divorced couples say that they get along better now than when they were married? That is because they have released the expectations of each other and finally accepted each other as they are. So, yes, it is possible to have a friendship, a meaningful frienship with a former lover or boyfriend/girlfriend.

      Remember, you cannot do that immediately because you need to allow time for the both of you to transform and evolve the once romantic relationship into a friendship. You also may need to allow time for the other person to come to terms with the termination of the relationship i.e. maybe he or she didn’t want it to end but you did or vice versa.

      Having said that, maybe you do need to end all contact with a particular person if that person was abusive or very unhealthy for you; maybe you need to cut them off until you resolve your issues and maybe you need to cut them off forever if they were a bad influence on you. You can also forgive someone for what they did but not allow them back in your life if they refuse to change or let go of their bad habits.

      I have remained friends with many of my ex-girlfriends because we were real friends and that former relationship in a few cases has transformed and evolved into a powerful friendship – maybe our circumstances meant we could not be together – living in different countries or she was ready for children and marriage and I was not.
      Finally, Marina, please also accept that maybe you are ready and willing to be friends but he or she is not. A former girlfriend was not ready to let go of me from her heart and was not ready to forgive me for leaving the country and not taking her with me. I chose to respect her wishes and simply let her know that the door is open should she ever choose to want to be friends.

      I hope this helps.
      All the best,

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