Decisions Under Infatuation - Part I
We’ve all heard of the term “love at first sight”. In fact, some of us have likely even claimed to have experienced it at one time or another. Essentially, love at first sight (also known as the infatuation stage) is feeling a strong romantic attraction for someone whom we have only just met.
An infatuation is a form of initial attraction that shows up in our lives quickly and intensely.
Understanding infatuation is a crucial component of dating. This knowledge can greatly assist us with choosing more meaningful partnerships, and in turn, avoid the disappointment of being with the wrong partners. Ultimately, educating ourselves on the infatuation stage leads us to become more emotionally intelligent with how we perceive ourselves and others.
We see so many stories in the media that blur the lines between infatuation and real love. We have even developed a vocabulary to express the ways in which infatuation can appear and dissipate in a matter of weeks or months. We refer to ourselves and our friends as “professional daters” or “serial monogamists” and we joke about going out to “meet our future exes.”
This all just exacerbates the confusion and leads us astray from what we’re truly seeking.
We can learn to discern whether our “love at first sight” can blossom into a healthy relationship, or whether it’s no more than a passing phase. By definition, infatuation is a feeling of passion or admiration for someone that only lasts for a short period of time. It is unsustainable by design. The sheer definition of the word implies that it is not meant to last.
We mustn't forget that infatuation is a very normal part of the romantic experience. In fact, it is deeply ingrained in our culture; in and of itself, infatuation is not a bad thing. By forming a basis for initial attraction, infatuation actually motivates us to get to know people better.
At the same time, however, infatuation does not have enough depth, nor does it last long enough, for it to serve as the basis for a strong and sustainable relationship. When we want to build something that lasts, we must first ensure that our foundation can accommodate it.
Unfortunately, nobody hands us a guidebook on how to create a loving relationship the moment we become adults. Instead, our relationship skills are developed by a set of factors that includes our biological responses, our previous interactions with people and even the cultural messages we receive from social media, TV, movies, and books.
It’s unsurprising then, that the moment we feel that surge of passion and endearment, we assume that we’ve fallen in love. In the battle of head versus heart, we choose the heart - and yet we forget that the head only has the heart’s best interests in mind.
“Infatuation can eventually lead to real love, but only if we’re able to recognize the difference between both stages and approach them accordingly.”
What we must remember is that we cannot truly know someone shortly after meeting them. There are so many things about a person that are not mentioned in their dating profile, or that they do not reveal over coffee. It takes time to foster enough experiences with a person to the extent that we can claim we’re even scratching their surface.
The challenge we all face, of course, is when we’re caught up in a new crush or excited that we’re clicking with someone special. We have the tendency to be on our best behaviour upon meeting someone new. This means that we’re more likely to highlight the aspects which we view as our strengths, and downplay or flat out hide those we view as our weaknesses.
Although both partners may not be flat out lying about who they really are, omitting the more undesirable parts prevents us from fully getting to know one another. It’s important that we have developed the emotional awareness to take a step back and understand what’s going on. When we are being the “best version” of ourselves during the infatuation stage, we are not able to be (or see) someone genuinely until the stage is over.
It is because of these influences, paired with the powerful feelings that infatuation can cause, that hinder us from having a solid sense of guidance and wisdom when developing a loving relationship.
Meaning that we can become romantically attached to someone who is unable, unwilling, or simply does not know how to recognize our emotional needs (let alone meet them). The role of infatuation is to give us an opportunity to learn about someone that we find attractive and then, over time and experience, determine whether they are the types of people we truly desire to build a relationship with.