Are You Feeling Infatuation or Love?
What To Do When You’re Infatuated
Take this test to see if you are infatuated. Count the number of items you are experiencing with your lover.
When they are in your life…
- You can stay up all night talking.
- People, places and time seem to fade away into the background.
- You feel more optimistic about the future and enthusiast about life.
- You feel better about yourself and have more self-confidence.
- You have more energy and don’t need as much sleep.
- You have an increased libido and an unexplainable, overpowering lust for them.
- You feel a sense of completion and wholeness.
When separated from them…
- You feel anxious, a little down, have self-doubts and a loss of energy.
- You have difficulty concentrating; thoughts of them become invasive, repetitive and all-consuming.
- You are jealous and suspicions about what they do and who they are with.
- You have nagging uncertainties about whether they really love you.
- You do things you normally would never do; like drive past their home, call and hang up, look through their cell phone, or try to catch them in a lie.
- Any contact from them in the form of a text, email, or phone message feels like a shot of adrenaline.
If you have broken up…
- You’re devastated and feel there is no point to living any more.
(Take solace. In a year, you’ll say “what was I thinking?!?”)
If you answered yes to four or more of the above, you are infatuated. And here you thought all those intense feelings signified that you were meant to be together, were soul mates and that the connection you had had never been experienced by another couple on the planet!
I have some good and bad news. First the good news – this relationship may mature in time and gradually lead to a lifelong, healthy and fulfilling relationship. The bad news is – your brain is playing tricks on you.
Scientific Explanation for What You’re Feeling
When you are infatuated, your brain gets a huge surge of dopamine which literally changes the wiring in your brain. It activates the pleasure centers and stimulates the production of adrenaline. Synaptic neurotransmitters make a connection between your lover and the production of dopamine so it intensifies the desire for your lover.
Oxytocin is released during physical affection and orgasm which strengthens the feelings of bonding, trust, and emotional attachment. Combine all these chemicals together, and you have one intoxicating blend of euphoria that will override the region of the brain that governs logic.
Similarities of Infatuation to Narcotic Use
Being infatuated is remarkably similar to what a cocaine addict, or any narcotic user goes through. It’s not surprising because of some of the very same chemicals are released in the brain.
First Few Times: Characterized by feeling exceptionally good. The user feels happy, has more energy, enthusiasm, and sexual sensations. Everything feels right with the world when high.
Wanting Turns to Needing: They start to have difficulty concentrating. Withdrawals are mild to intense. The craving can cause the person to lose their ability to think clearly or reason logically. They notice it takes more to get the same high. When not using, they feel anxious, unsure, depressed, are less energetic and have difficulty sleeping.
Dysfunctional Behavior: Users will do things they normally wouldn’t do, like sell or pawn previously enjoyed or needed items. They will beg, borrow or even steal items from friends, family and strangers to get the money for a fix. Any well-meaning friend trying to point out their destructive behavior is dismissed as pure nonsense or simply a misunderstanding.
The Problems with Infatuation
Missing parts of Reality: By exaggerating their virtues and downplaying their flaws, you are not seeing the whole person. Love is not blind. It sees all that is there and still loves.
Impaired Judgment: Like a junkie, you will go to unhealthy, sometimes humiliating lengths, to keep them.
Unsustainable: Dopamine requires novelty so you will eventually build up a tolerance after you get use to each other. It can take up to a year or two, but eventually, it will be harder to have the same buzz as you did in the beginning.
This is natural. It doesn’t mean you are falling out of love. When the chemical cocktail dries up, the relationship either moves into a loving one based in reality, or there is disillusionment, and the relationship ends. People who jump from relationship to relationship are craving the intoxicating effects. They are “infatuation junkies”.
Real love is based on being fully aware of all your partner’s qualities. You can actually see the whole person, the good and the bad, and ugly. You love them in spite of, or because of, their struggles. It’s based on mutual affection and respect.
How to Get Over Them
If you have broken up or it’s hard for you to imagine the relationship being anything long term, there are a few things you can do to overcome your addiction.
Be Active. Start doing all the things that use to bring you joy before you got involved with this individual. You had a life before you meant them. Get it back. The happier you are in your life, the less you will miss them.
Manage your stress. You think you’re over them, then you have a tough day, and you’ll catch yourself thinking about calling them. Stress inhibits your ability to think rationally. Do not contact them. Call a good friend or go out and have fun. Exercise!
Remove All Evidence. When a junkie is kicking the habit, it’s important for them to avoid triggers such as visiting the bar where they use to get high or passing the corner where they bought the drugs. They need to establish new routines, friends and activities. So do you. All reminders of them such as clothes, cards, rings, or anything that reminds you of them should be removed from your life. I generally do not suggest avoidance, but in this case, it will make recovery easier.
Consciously Change Your Thoughts. You will think about them, there’s no avoiding that. What you can do is change WHAT you are thinking about them. Anytime you catch yourself fantasizing about how wonderful it was, make a list of all the things you didn’t like about them or the way they treated you. The wiring and chemicals in your brain may have a strong influence, but you are still the one in control.
Treat Yourself. For every week or month you go without seeing or contacting them, give yourself a reward. Create a little of your own dopamine by finding some joy.
Eventually, in time, you will be happy again. And in a few years, you’ll be able to look back on the relationship and see things you couldn’t see when you were high on dopamine. You’ll remember all if it, not just the selective memory you have right now. You WILL get through this.