Have you ever had a conversation with someone and felt like the connection was so strong that it made your heart race? Or maybe something about them seems right, even though they’re not necessarily perfect for you in every way?
We asked relationship experts to weigh in on what makes us think we’ve found our soulmates or if those feelings are simply infatuation at work.
Is It Just Infatuation
Dr. John Gagnon, PsyD, is the President of the New Beginnings Counseling Center in Santa Cruz, California. He specializes in helping people deal with issues related to relationships, addiction, trauma, and other life challenges.
“Infatuation can be intense, but it doesn’t have to last,” Dr. Gagnon says. “You don’t have to stick around long enough to fall in love.”
Infatuation, he explains, is more than just physical attraction — it could also mean an emotional attachment that feels too good to be true. This often happens when you feel a sense of completeness and belongingness with another person you might not experience.
According to Dr. Gagnon, some people go through periods of infatuation without realizing it. However, others who experience passion know precisely what it is and how to manage and overcome it.
He notes that sometimes it takes a while to recognize that they have fallen into infatuation because it can happen suddenly, without warning. But once you realize it, it typically lasts for a few weeks to months before it fades away.
Are They Perfect For Me
If you meet someone and think they’re perfect for you, you may be experiencing infatuation. Even though you might feel like you fit together perfectly, this isn’t always the case.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of a new relationship, feeling like everything is going to be great,” says Dr. Bethany Marsh, a licensed marriage and family therapist in San Diego, California. “But you must remember that things change, and people change over time. You’ll want to ensure that you have a healthy level of self-awareness and self-compassion when dealing with these feelings.”
This means having realistic expectations of what a relationship will look like. If you’re expecting to marry someone after meeting them, you might want to consider dating someone for longer before you commit to spending the rest of your lives together.
Dr. Marsh points out that you should never base whether you’re in love with someone solely on their appearance or personality traits. While keeping your mind open to different possibilities is essential, you shouldn’t let yourself become so infatuated that you stop looking elsewhere for fulfillment.
What About The Feelings After Meeting Them
Another thing to consider is how you feel after meeting someone for the first time. According to Dr. Marsh, if you feel comfortable and confident when you see a potential partner, that’s a sign that you’re probably fascinated with them.
“When you meet someone, you tend to make assumptions based on looks and personality,” she says. “But as the saying goes, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ So if you find someone attractive, then that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the one for you.”
However, if you feel anxious, uncomfortable, or unconfident when you see someone, you may still feel infatuated with that individual. Dr. Marsh adds that this is an excellent opportunity to practice self-care by caring for your own needs so that you don’t neglect yours.
How To Tell When It is Real Love?
If you’re unsure about whether you’re really in love, Dr. Marsh recommends asking yourself questions such as “Do you feel like you’re pleased when you’re with this person?” and “Are you willing to put aside your wants and needs and focus on his or hers?”
She also stresses that you should avoid comparing past and current relationships. Instead, she advises focusing on the positives and appreciating each individual’s unique qualities.
As Dr. Gagnon says, “The best way to tell if it’s real love is by doing what you say you want to do. Don’t stay in a relationship where you aren’t happy.”
Can The Connection Be Maintained Over Time
Sometimes, you might fall for the same person multiple times. According to Dr. Gagnon, if you keep returning to the same person, you may develop feelings of love for them. This type of attachment is called “secure” love and helps keep people connected over time.
However, it’s essential to recognize that it won’t necessarily last forever. You could enter into another infatuation cycle if you find yourself repeatedly drawn to the same person. In that case, it’s better to take a break from that person and move on to explore other options.
But suppose you’re open to pursuing a relationship with that person. In that case, Dr. Gagnon recommends considering whether you want to maintain a casual friendship with that person or deepen the bond by becoming exclusive partners.
Why Would I Want A Partner Like That (Or Anything Other Than Myself)?
Finally, asking yourself why you would choose someone like that (or anything other than yourself) is essential.
“I think it’s important to ask ourselves questions like ‘Why am I choosing someone like that?’ and ‘What will I gain from being with someone like that?'” Dr. Gagnon says.
There could be many reasons. Perhaps you’re attracted to someone because they remind you of someone you lost, or maybe you want to learn something new from them that you couldn’t learn from anyone else.
Whatever the reason, Dr. Gagnon says it’s important to understand that you’re not necessarily seeking someone like yourself. Instead, you’re seeking someone who can help you grow and fulfill specific desires that you haven’t been able to achieve alone.
While it might sound counterintuitive to find someone who fits perfectly, it’s pretty standard. And as Dr. Gagnon explains, you may have already met your ideal match.
“In my experience, people don’t always find themselves with the exact person they were hoping for,” he says. “They find themselves with someone they can relate to, respect, and appreciate.”
In turn, they can help each other grow and discover new aspects of themselves.