Can you remember back to when you first met your partner? Butterflies and infatuation in addition to lots of other positive emotions were probably part of your story. You may have felt a rush of euphoria, excitement, lust, attraction and finally if there was enough of these addictive ingredients and they have been alluring enough you became attached to each other. All very heady and intoxicating stuff so far, and all well explained from a biological and evolutionary perspective, where hormones , namely our brain chemicals including dopamine are transported around via our neurotransmitters, these chemicals are in charge of running this great romance show. They are the evolutionary bonding chemicals designed to get us together long enough to mate, therefore ensuring our survival as a species. This stage of the relationship is culturally referred to as they "honeymoon period" or "Limerance", a stage where we are literally carried away, infatuated and in the first flush of blissful feelings, convinced that we have met "the one".
These strong emotions we generally label as falling in love. But what is actually happening is really just falling "in - fatuation". From a Jungian perspective this is a stage in relationships where all our ideals of our perfect partner, our perfect relationship and our perfect happy ever after story is filled with our unconcious projected fantasies and idealisations about the other person. We all see mainly what we want to see in the other person evoking a feeling of Eros.
Alas the heady and hot spark that draws us together initially is unlikely to last with the same initial intensity as we progress on to a more committed and realistic stage of the relationship. This is a very temporary phenomena and the spark is unlikely to burn and shine past approximatly between 18 months and 3 years according to research by psychologist Dorothy Tennov. As we become more familiar with each other over time, our brain slows down the production of the infatuation chemicals. The initial chemical concoction is impossible to keep generating. We are now attached and the rush of oxytocin, dopamine and noadrenaline are not needed in the same quantity. It is now a good time to touch the ground and tune in to reality in order to evaluate if the "love of our Life" is likely to be as good for us over the long term and be abel to actually love us for life.
Chana Levitan a Relationship Therapist and author offers important signs of the infatuation stage that we need to be cognisant of before we jump on the "lets be together forever bus" .
1. Infatuation is the relationship, that is there's nothing else there, no shared vision or values of the life pathways you both want. There is minimal shared interests. There is not much to talk about after the the initial conversations.
2. You are so caught up in the chemistry of initial attraction that you can't or don't want to see who the person really is.
3. You are infatuated and at the same time know that the person is bad for you.
4. You are moving towards marriage but find yourself thinking about someone you dated in the past, or looking at others you might date in the future.
After you have done some good reality checking and and are abel to see your potential partner in all their gore and glory and still feel like you want them in your life, you may in fact be moving towards the stage of a real, mature and sustainable relationship that can develop into real intimacy with the openess and the honesty you will need to navigate life together. Don't let the lure of infatuation alone drive long term decisions. Remember its all chemicals in the begining.