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Initial Enthusiasm, Infatuation and Impulsivity

There are so many things that seem like a good idea at first.

One place that’s definitely true is relationships. So many relationships start off with a surge of excitement, even euphoria.

As time goes on, and the novelty wears off, it starts to become clear that you might not be a good fit after all. And pretty soon – it’s not you, it’s me.

HeartsA recent study suggests that teenagers with higher levels of impulsivity (although not with ADHD specifically) are more susceptible to romantic infatuation. The authors of the study pointed out that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially if it gives energy to the initial stages of a relationship, but it is something that can have negative consequences when the relationship comes back down to earth.

This got me thinking about “infatuation” more generally, not just in relationships.

Many situations can give a feeling of initial enthusiasm as you consider new possibilities. That might be starting a new project or hobby, or even making a major life change. It’s only after that first surge of excitement that the negatives start to sink in – or that you realize the situation doesn’t provide enough of a long-term reward to keep you engaged once the novelty is gone.

I think ADHDers, and people with high levels of impulsivity generally, are more likely to get swept up in the initial wave of enthusiasm without pausing to consider all the relevant consequences or possible downsides.

It’s part of the reason we hit the ground with all cylinders firing on projects, then quickly start to lose some of said cylinders. It’s why we overcommit to things. And, to get back to the topic that started this, it probably doesn’t help with building long-term relationships either.

Still, there is something to be said for being good at starting projects, even if we aren’t good at finishing them.

The authors of the study I mentioned above pointed out that being prone to infatuation could be beneficial at times when beginning relationships. By the same token, being tuned into the initial enthusiasm of new undertakings might be helpful in adapting to new situations, in brainstorming, or in finding motivation for projects that don’t necessarily require a long-term commitment anyway.

At the same time, ADHDers should be aware of the tendency to get sucked up in a sudden sense of excitement that won’t last. Sometimes we have to stop and ask, in all areas of life: is it infatuation or is it love?

Image: Flickr/Jeffrey Smith

Initial Enthusiasm, Infatuation and Impulsivity

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2019). Initial Enthusiasm, Infatuation and Impulsivity. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 31 Jul 2019
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