Confusing Territory Alert: Infatuation Vs. Love

Infatuation vs love
Is it infatuation? Is it love? Why is all this so confusing? You should always be sure about your feelings towards a person, whether it's an infatuation or actual love.
"Infatuation is when you think he's as sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Conners. Love is when you realize that he's as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger and nothing like Robert Redford - but you'll take him anyway."
~ Judith Viorst, Redbook, 1975
So a lot of places are going to tell you that infatuation is in fact triggered by the brain due to the release of several chemicals, etc. etc. And that love is just a deep emotion, of which every individual has a different opinion and meaning. Obviously we have to take for granted that people know what they're talking about, because we're confused about the difference between the two. Is it love or infatuation? Well, let's first begin with a clear understanding that love and infatuation are not opposites of each other. There's just a very, very, painfully thin line between the two that in the end makes all the difference.
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● First Signs...
You meet someone, and you are instantly attracted to them. You find it difficult to think clearly because your thoughts are plagued by their presence. They have obviously captivated you with their charm, wit, elegance, intelligence, etc. You can't help thinking about that person whether you're with him/her or not.
All these are characteristic to a person infatuated with another. Isn't love supposed to be pretty much the same thing? Aren't we conditioned to believe that the exact fluttering feeling, the lack of logical thought and sometimes silly actions are what love is all about? True, but somewhere in the midst of all this, you begin to get a nagging thought in your head which tells that this is more than just an infatuation.
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● What it IS...
Infatuation begins with a physical attraction. There are a select few who go beyond outward physical appearance, and give the actual human being in that body a chance. This is not to say that you are being unfair when you get attracted to someone's physical appearance. For some it matters, for some it doesn't. It is completely your choice. But yes, since physical attraction plays a major role in it, how do you know if it's love or lust? Think about it and you'll be able to answer the question.
While many may argue that physical beauty is what attracts a person to another and that is the basis on which 'love' can be born, it is also true that sometimes, you really do find that you're attracted to the person as a person and not as an object of desire. Sometimes, you really do love the person for his or her personality and when the sparks of attraction eventually begin to fly, it's simply magical! Being attracted to someone for their person before their body is something that (while most may deny) everyone wants.
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● What you Feel...
When you are infatuated, you are probably insecure about whether the person you like likes you too, or about whether she/he is out there meeting other people and considering them for the purpose of dating and further. You are jealous, you are possessive, and you don't want her/him out of your sight for the fear that you might be left alone. It is not exactly 'relationship insecurity', but you are definitely not most secure when you are infatuated.
Love is more trustful. Yes, people feel insecure even when they are in love, but there is a certain level of trust that is not present when you are infatuated. You know that the person you love is trustworthy and won't let you down. It is this faith and trust that forms the basis of a relationship and gives you the confidence in not only the person, but also in the love that you share. Insecurity is thwarted by love in more ways than one.
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● And then...
Infatuation gets you carried away. Running in the fields, singing on cloud 9, imagining yourself with the so-called 'one', are all traits of a deeply infatuated person. When you are infatuated, you experience heightened passion and excitement and suddenly these might just evaporate. Yes, just like that! Usually, the end of such emotions signifies that you are over the person and it was indeed an infatuation.
Love, on the other hand, is real. You are completely aware of what you are getting into, and you want to do it anyway. When you still want to be with the person after the initial excitement wears out, it is definitely love. When you love someone, you echo her/his thoughts, feel her/his feelings, know what she/he wants and what she/he'd rather stay away from, know her/his strengths and weaknesses, and still want to be with her/him. No better way to put it.
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● The Dealbreaker...
You may be infatuated with the idea of love and romance, but it is just that, an infatuation. We could simply say that infatuation is being in love with the idea of love, and not really being in love. It is not necessary that you will fall in love with the person you're infatuated with. While infatuation is instant and based on outward physical appearances, love transcends this physical appearance that is so appealing to you, and goes beyond it.
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Love is gradual, and it enables you to understand the real person within that physical beauty; it helps you connect with that person. If you stop feeling the way you do because the person you like (or believe you love) looks and is different now than when you first 'fell in love' with him or her, you were probably just infatuated. When you feel nothing but wonderful feelings for him or her, it's love for sure.
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● The Little Things...
If you are infatuated, perhaps those little unappealing things may bother you. For instance, if he/she is obsessed with cleanliness and personal hygiene, it can get irritating. However, if you are willing to look beyond these little quirks and discover the person within, only then will you know how much she/he matters to you. It really is a personal choice. If you find yourself unable to put up with it, it's probably just an infatuation.
When you are in love, you know you can accept the little things that may not appeal to you for a larger whole. Soon, even those things don't bother you, because you have made an effort to make your relationship work. You have put in the time, nurtured it, and brought it to the point where the relationship means the most to you in the world. Alternately, you have put in the effort because you know that it is completely worth it.
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● Survival Instinct...
Infatuation is temporary; once you recognize that it is, you begin to see things from a different perspective. The things that you found 'adorable' in the person begin to annoy you. You begin to see yourself as putting too much effort in the relationship, and you don't mind not being a part of it. You consider leaving and don't feel guilty about it. This is one of the sure-shot signs that you're ready to move on with your life.
Love involves a compromise. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves. If you're not willing to compromise, you're not in love. You find yourself willing to test levels of patience you never thought you were capable of, simply because you know that you stand to gain a lot more by making the effort than by quitting. And you know that at the end of the day, the love will be worth fighting for. Isn't that the best?

Love happens. It truly does. You may have a whole checklist about how your ideal guy/girl should be, but when you meet this person, your checklist will be molded to what this she/he is, not what you expected. You will find the perfection and learn to deal with the imperfections. You will realize that you're getting much more than you ever asked for, all from that one person. She/he will go beyond your facade, will break through the barrier you have set around yourself, and reach the special place in your heart that no one has ever touched. When you are in love, you just know.
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