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Can love without infatuation still be "real love"?
October 24, 2008 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I read this question about how to tell the difference between love and infatuation. Most of the answers seem to say that love and infatuation feel the same in the beginning but love is what lasts in the long run. My question is, is it possible to fall in love with someone with out really experiencing true infatuation with them?

I have a wonderful boyfriend. He has all of the things that I have ever wanted in a significant other. This is not to say that I think he's perfect, but so far none of his imperfections are in anyway close to dealbreakers. I find them endearing. I do think we are perfect for each other. We don't just enjoy each other, we are truly good for each other and challenge each other to be the best we can and grow.

We've been together several months, but less than a year. I feel as though I love him, and am in love with him. Especially when we are together. We have great physical chemistry. Possibly the best sex I've ever had. I can't get enough of his kisses and cuddles and hugs.

The problem (?) being, I have never really felt infatuated with him. I mean, I want to be with him as much as possible, and think about him all the time when we are not together, but I never really experienced the "blissful infatuation high" where you go kind of crazy and you are stupidly excited all the time and your head gets all light and airy and you are obsessed.

What I do feel is quite happy when we are together, I feel a warmth in my heart when I think of him, I miss him when I can't be with him, I get excited to see him if we've gone too long apart. I am comfortable being myself around him all the time, and I love kissing him and touching him.

There is nothing about this man or our relationship that makes me doubt that we should be together, for not just now, but for a long while, except this nagging that because I never fell "head over heals" in infatuation that my love might not be "the real thing". As a result I am terrified that it won't work out, or that I'll never love him "enough". My love for him is most intense in the times when I can really keep these fears at bay. I'm concerned it may be a endless cycle of I'm scared I don't love him enough, but because I'm scared, the fear itself keeps me from being able to love him enough.

I am a very talented over thinker, and I think that is a huge part of this problem.

So.

Is it possible to be in love without having been ga-ga infatuated?

If so, how do I stop over thinking this and just enjoy the ride?

Also, we are in our late 20s... does maturity & past relationships play into the amount of infatuation you are able to feel as you get older? Maybe total infatuation is more of an immature feeling?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is it possible to be in love without having been ga-ga infatuated?

Yup.

If so, how do I stop over thinking this and just enjoy the ride?

You stop over thinking this and just enjoy the ride.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:27 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes. This is exactly how it happened with me and my husband. He was infatuated with me; I put up with him at first, because I had a soft spot for him. Then I grew fonder and fonder of him. Then I realized that I was happier when he was there and sadder when he wasn't there. Then I realized that I loved him.

Long story short: Together more than 20 years, married 15 years. We're both still in love, still best friends, and still can't imagine being with anyone else.

I've seen so many "infatuations" break up on the rocks that I eventually concluded that the need to be "head over heels" and have "love at first sight" and all such socially stipulated manifestations of romance were nothing but a bill of goods sold to the impressionable by songs and movies. It's dandy if it happens, but it doesn't particularly foretell anything, positive or negative.
posted by ROTFL at 2:31 PM on October 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


if love was laid out in a text book...

your relationship is unique. we make guesses and assumptions based on past experience but that has little bearing on the future.

look at the stock market. all the predictions we make are based on trends in the past and not many people saw this coming.
posted by phritosan at 2:31 PM on October 24, 2008


I agree with ROTFL. In fact, I'd say that the crazy obsessing infatuations have a bigger chance of fizzling out because you don't notice the deal-breaker imperfections (or at least are not bothered by them) until the infatuation starts to wane a bit. In my experience, it's easy to become infatuated and not always so easy to come out on the other side with love.

Sounds to me like you've gotten the hard part out of the way. Lucky you!
posted by penchant at 2:36 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


The problem (?) being, I have never really felt infatuated with him. I mean, I want to be with him as much as possible, and think about him all the time when we are not together, but I never really experienced the "blissful infatuation high" where you go kind of crazy and you are stupidly excited all the time and your head gets all light and airy and you are obsessed.

Watch fewer Lifetime network shows and spend more time with your boyfriend. You've built up a completely ridiculous and fake ideal and now act disappointed when reality fails to measure up. In this post, you have said exactly zero negative things about your boyfriend: that should be all the answer you need.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:38 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I never really experienced the "blissful infatuation high" where you go kind of crazy and you are stupidly excited all the time and your head gets all light and airy and you are obsessed.

That doesn't sound pleasant.

It sounds like you are happy. Roll with that.
posted by collocation at 2:40 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who married someone she knew since childhood. They had dated in high school, broken up but remained friends, then got together again after college. At the wedding, the priest mentioned (with their permission) that one of the things that had come up in the pre-wedding counseling was that they had never felt any sudden spark, just that they had very gradually grown to love each other.

That was 12 years ago. They are still happily married.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:51 PM on October 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, we are in our late 20s... does maturity & past relationships play into the amount of infatuation you are able to feel as you get older? Maybe total infatuation is more of an immature feeling?

You don't have to use "maturity" as a crutch to make you feel superior to people who get all squirrelled up over their boyfriends and girlfriends. You have a man that you are in love with that possesses a bunch of qualities that you like and who you want to be with for a long time. The way that other people feel about their boyfriends or girlfriends is completely irrelevant to your situation.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:55 PM on October 24, 2008


I always thought that infatuation was code for "great sex", so, I think you're fine.

If you have doubts, you can always dump him and start over.
posted by sondrialiac at 2:57 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Infatuation is when being around them makes you happy.

Love is when you want them to be happy.
posted by Class Goat at 3:15 PM on October 24, 2008 [18 favorites]


In my experience, infatuation in romantic relationships only happens with people you do not know very well, or fully understand. It's the lure of the unknown that makes that "high" possible.

And yeah, that high can be pretty fun for a little while. But eventually you find out that it is based on things you projected onto the person, your own fantasies, rather than qualities inherent to person themselves. At that point you get real. Getting real is the best part in my opinion, but it is the opposite of being high. Getting real means you may find out the person doesn't embody everything you thought you saw when you were high. You have to evaluate who they actually are, and who you are together.

That's why making longterm decisions in the infatuation stage can be a tricky gamble. And why some people, especially in their twenties, constantly chase the next "high." They confuse the high of the fantasy for the reality of love. That you skipped this brief stage and got to know someone well, to love the actual reality of the two of you together, sounds pretty awesome to me.

(PS I would answer very differently if you hadn't mentioned the great sex)
posted by eileen at 3:16 PM on October 24, 2008 [11 favorites]


Some self-help books claim that "chemistry" (the head-over-heels thing) can be a mark of danger or impending issues in a relationship. I can think of exceptions, so I wouldn't say it's necessarily a bad thing, but I do think that at least some high-chemistry relationships are compelling because the partners really "fit" each other in ways both good and bad. People can be perfectly wrong for one another. People can fall intensely in love and then come to passionately hate each other.

So I recommend people totally ignore that early infatuation (or lack thereof) and instead look at whether a relationship is chaotic, destabilizing, boring, deadening, and something that doesn't seem to have a future, or whether it's strengthening, stabilizing, interesting, enlivening, and something you can imagine lasting. Sounds like you have something good going for you.
posted by salvia at 3:25 PM on October 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yes.
posted by matildaben at 4:19 PM on October 24, 2008


It's totally possible to love without infatuation. You're in a good situation. Enjoy it!
posted by tomcochrane at 4:40 PM on October 24, 2008


What you have is better.
posted by Ugh at 4:50 PM on October 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes. We call this "quietly falling in love." There does not need to be a side dish of stalker-like obsession to go with that.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:55 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seems like there's a common answer already, but I'd just like to add my own experience. I've only been married 4 months, but I've known my husband for around 9 years. We were friends before, but there was never a lot of chemistry or infatuation...we just slowly (veeeery slowly) came to realize we prefered being with each other (as opposed to the other friends in the group). There's never been much passion or romanticism to our relationship, but it's definitely love, and we're both very happy to be married and together.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 5:54 PM on October 24, 2008


I've done the infatuation thing. It was a lot of fun. And then I broke up with every one of those people after only a couple of weeks. I got to know them, and realized that after we'd gone through all the positions in the Kama Sutra, there wasn't a lot left to do.

On the other hand, I was never infatuated with my wife. And I love her tremendously.

The lack of infatuation seems to be problematic only if you let yourself compare your experience to fiction.
posted by Netzapper at 6:08 PM on October 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


My husband and I skipped the infatuation phase, we just gradually fell in love. We were younger than you when we first started dating but after a few years it became unthinkable to make a choice that would not let us be together so we married. We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary this summer.
posted by metahawk at 8:13 PM on October 24, 2008


does maturity & past relationships play into the amount of infatuation you are able to feel as you get older? Maybe total infatuation is more of an immature feeling?

I think you've got it.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:16 PM on October 24, 2008


"...but I never really experienced the "blissful infatuation high" where you go kind of crazy and you are stupidly excited all the time and your head gets all light and airy and you are obsessed."

I have never experienced this. It sounds annoying, so I really don't understand why you're missing it.
posted by 517 at 8:36 PM on October 24, 2008


Yes. Give it time. That's what its for.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:07 AM on October 25, 2008


Yes!
posted by The Toad at 11:20 AM on October 25, 2008


I am in the very same situation that you are but i am a guy....I asked a very similar question a couple of months ago....take a look and see....I am starting to think that yes, love doesnt need to come from infatuation......and second great sex cant be beating (trust me I had infatuation coupled with bad sex before and that sucked)
posted by The1andonly at 1:01 PM on October 25, 2008


Each successive relationship I've been in has had less of that "blissful infatuation high"--and more of a real, true, mature love. I can get butterflies at the sight of him, but I no longer feel that rollercoaster-going-off-a-cliff feeling.

I much prefer it this way.
posted by purplecurlygirl at 4:58 PM on October 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


As someone who has spent far, far too much of her life caught up in the tortured-soul drama and drug-like highs of infatuation, I recommend you do your best to put your questions to rest and count your blessings. Give your overactive mind something else to chew on instead of letting it dissect your relationship.

Your doubts are understandable, but really, I don't think you're missing out on anything. Infatuation can be fun at times, sure, but it has an oft-overlooked dark side; I've learned the hard way that sometimes there is a very steep emotional and spiritual price to be paid for such intensity.

It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship, with many joys and the promise of deep satisfaction. Enjoy it to the fullest!

There's a lovely song by Cass Elliott with lyrics that seem appropriate:

Once I believed that when love came to me
It would come with rockets, bells and poetry
But with me and you it just started quietly and grew
And believe it or not
Now there's something groovy and good
Bout whatever we got

And it's getting better
Growing stronger warm and wilder
Getting better everyday, better everyday

I don't feel all turned on and starry eyed
I just feel a sweet contentment deep inside
Holding you at night just seems kind of natural and right
And it's not hard to see
That it isn't half of what it's going to turn out to be...
posted by velvet winter at 4:12 PM on October 26, 2008 [10 favorites]


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