Scientific Differences Between Infatuation, Crush And Love
At some point in your life, you have had a crush, right? That cute guy in high school who you swear you will "love" forever. Or that other guy in college who consumed most of your thoughts so you had to see him and be near him as much as possible. Or that guy at the office, who you believe to be "the one". All those times, we bet you thought you were in love. But, was it really love?
Many people mistake a crush or infatuation with love, the first two are so intense that it's easy to mistake them for love, but believe it or not, there's a difference, a big one. We tend to see our love lives as portrayed in movies where the infatuated couples fall in love and then live happily ever after... is that how it worked for you? We bet it isn't, in real life things are a little bit different.
Let's clear things up a little by talking facts about what is a crush, what is an infatuation and what is love.
1. Crush and infatuation are very similar
Crush and infatuation go hand in hand. A crush is a brief but intense infatuation about someone that's unattainable or inappropriate. An infatuation is a short-lived and intense passion or admiration or attraction you feel for someone. With infatuation, comes an intense physical craving.
2. Love is a strong feeling of intense affection
Love, not like a crush or infatuation, sees and accepts someone (the object of the affection) just as it is. Love is an intense feeling of deep affection. Love is so many things: patience, understanding, forgiveness. Love demands deep connections. Love seeks happiness too.
3. With a crush or infatuation the feelings come fast and are short lived
The intensity with which infatuation hits is... out of this world. You saw him and you just knew that you had to have him. Some called that "love at first sight". Infatuation doesn't let the feelings grow and develop over time, which is what happens with love. The feelings are instantaneous, they hit you like a ton of rocks.
Also, crushes come and go so fast, you may have a crush on him now but if nothing happens, that crush can go away in a couple of months. Love is for the long run, whether things work out or not, some form or it stays.
4. With a crush or an infatuation all you see is Prince Charming
When you have a crush or are infatuated with someone you see an idea of that person, not the real person. You form all these scenarios in your head like, you two would look so great together and at the same time, you create a great life for the two of you where everything is perfect, like in a fairytale.
5. Crushes and infatuation are based basically on physical attraction
With a crush, you don't actually know the real person so it's more base on the physical attributes of said person and, of course, on the "facts" you have created in your head. The infatuation begins because you find him extremely handsome or "so hot" and you strongly desire him.
6. Love is a dynamic process
Love's dynamic process means that while the relationship grows, matures and goes through all kinds of experiences that put it under a lot of pressure, love brings out the best of each of you. Because of love, you are able to work as a team, to understand and to be flexible. This dynamic process of love means you share emotions, trust and the growth of the relationship.
7. Much of what make up the difference between love and infatuation is chemical
Infatuation is often only lust. We lust after someone because our bodies have decided that he would make a good mate procreator, not for any other conscious reason. You are attracted to him, you think he's good looking and has a pleasing personality.
This chemical lust you experience during infatuation is fueled by estrogen and testosterone (sex hormones). Each of us has both hormones present in our bodies and both are required during the lust process. As the level of both hormones goes up, you become antsy, a little bit aggressive and you lose focus on anything that's not sexual gratification. Fueled also by Norepinephrine and noradrenaline your body reverts to the most animal state, that's instinct needed for species survival.
When things start to change from lust to attraction, the brain starts pumping a mixture of dopamine and oxytocin. The hormone responsible for creating feelings of happiness and reward is dopamine. That's the reason why when you're around him you feel good, your brain feels rewarded and when he's not around you feel like a junkie needing her "fix", you need another "dose" so you can feel happy and good again.
When love's involved, oxytocin is also released. Oxytocin also called the bonding chemical, is released to create a bond between two people. For example, oxytocin is released into the brain during breastfeeding, during pregnancy and even during sex so that you are urged, chemically, to feel emotionally closer to your baby, or to your lover. The bonding doesn't happen in a snap of a finger, it takes time, that's why love takes longer to develop.
Infatuation is the chemical need created by dopamine and oxytocin. It is not a conscious choice, you are just about appeasing that chemical need, not about the actual person. Love compels you to be selfless, infatuation is just a chemical need to stop that feeling of pain when you don't have him near.
8. Love occurs without awareness or intention
With love, you don't expect anything in return. Love also contains intimacy and passion, it contains forgiveness and love's patient too. True love will grow through time and will continue throughout your life. It's unconditional and understanding.
9. With infatuation you have blinders on
When you're infatuated with someone your world revolves around him, your gaze is only for him as well as your thoughts. You wear blinders all the time, nothing can compare to him, to his looks, to his intelligence, to his creativity. What you don't see thanks to those blinders, is what everyone else sees. He's not perfect (far from it) and your relationship has so many flaws, some very destructive traits and behaviors that are making you take some very bad decisions.
10. Love makes you want to create a better life for you in all areas.
Love makes you want to be a better friend, a more loving person, makes you want to be the best at what you do, to make a success of your life. If you have feelings of love and if you're truly in love with him, you'll want to embrace your life, to make it better, to be a better person.
11. With infatuation you get really, really jealous
Infatuation goes hand in hand with jealousy. Since your relationship is not based on trust, whenever you see him talking or laughing or just hanging with another woman, you get really jealous. That's because you want to show her and everyone else that he's yours. If you're infatuated you're in a constant state of losing him to someone else. You haven't developed that confident feeling that only comes when you're really in love, you're not connected.
12. Love's grounded in reality and it takes times
Love's not instantaneous like infatuation, it takes time to grow in your heart. How much time? There's not a definitive answer to that, it'll depend on the person. Love is also grounded in reality, it happens when you get to know him really well. When you've seen his humanity, his positive and negative traits; when you've shared with him his good and bad days and when you know his weaknesses and strengths.
13. Infatuation needs perfection to survive
If you're infatuated with him, to your eyes, he must be perfect. You need to see him like he is larger than life. If there's any hint of reality, your illusion will be shattered and you don't want that. In your illusion, he must be courageous, he must be beautiful and without a blemish.
14. Love's a 360 degree view, not just some angles
Love makes make you and him... real, it makes both of you real. That's why it's scary too because it makes you reveal your real self, it makes you vulnerable to him. It shows all the good but also, all the bad and crappy stuff. You get to see the whole picture, not just the pretty angles you like best.
15. Infatuation wreaks havoc in your self-confidence
Since infatuation seeks perfection (needs it actually), you are going to want to be perfect for him too. So you let that illusion consumed you and you put up a very fake version of you, where you show only the good sides. The superficial version of you, all smoke and mirrors and that is exhausting.
What Are The Psychological Effects On Teenage Boys And Girls?
You've been a teenager right? So you know that during those years common sense and reason are in very low supply, actually, they fly off the window. Teenagers (boys and girls) are highly emotional and if you add to that all the hormones bouncing around inside their bodies, all their world could turn confusing, emotions included.
If adults find it difficult to make the distinction between crush, love, and infatuation, for teenagers those emotions could add to all the confusion they're facing. You should be able to help them sort out their emotions by explaining to them what is love and what is infatuation so they can navigate those waters with enough information so that they don't drown.
Teenage romantic relationships have positive and negative effects or aspects that you should consider too. Here is a couple of them.
Teenage crushes and infatuations can help them with psychosocial development
Teenage romantic relationships, whether a crush or an infatuation, helps them be more self-aware. It's a training ground for adult intimacy. These relationships can give them an opportunity so they can learn to manage all strong emotions, gives them grounds to negotiate conflicts. Also, they can learn to communicate their needs and be aware of their romantic partner's needs too and how they can respond to them.
If a teeanger can't discern between love and infatuation, it can lead to unhealthy outcomes
If a teenager is convinced that what he's feeling is "the real thing", he may cling to his girlfriend to the point where nothing and no one else exists. He can cut himself from friends and family.
Unrequited love can also lead to unhealthy outcomes. If a teenager becomes infatuated (with all the intense fantasies that are characteristic of infatuation) and his "love" is not reciprocated it may lead to acting-out behaviors like aggression and/or stalking. Also, it can lead to depression and low self-esteem.
It's not easy to make the distinction between love, infatuation, and crush, especially in the early years. But after so many ups and downs regarding relationships, you get the hang of it. Plus with all the facts provided above, we hope you'll be able to recognize things for what they are.