Infatuation vs. Love

Infatuation vs. Love

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  1.  Although many people throughout history have tried to define exactly what love is and numerous psychologists, philosophers and other quacks have tried to list the benefits and drawbacks to love, no one has ever been completely successful, as love is a subjective thing and can mean different things for different people, or it’s parameters can change for an individual based on experience. With that said, I am now going to speak as an authority on the subject, so feel free to slip me right into the same category as the rest of those quacks. Keep in mind that any statement I make is purely a matter of opinion.

    When one is smitten by a member of the opposite sex (or sometimes the same gender; let’s not be prejudiced), infatuation is the initial emotion. We see only what’s most desirable in that person. If it’s a case of “love at first sight,” then it’s the person’s appearance that first draws us, but it’s more than that. Call it chemistry, or charisma; no one can define that special inexplicable something that makes us yearn for one beauty over the others in the same room. If we have the nerve, conversation follows, as we are very eager to know everything about the person in question. This is where the blinders slip over our eyes, ears and brains. We hear what we want to hear: that this person is perfect for us. If they describe undesirable traits about themselves, we disregard this as modesty. If things go your way, a relationship follows.

    Infatuation can last for quite a while, but it always wears off eventually, usually in a few months if not weeks. This is the main difference between infatuation and love: as we get to realize that our partner actually possesses negative traits, this may chafe at infatuation quickly and we find ourselves wondering just why it was that we were so drawn to this person. If as we get acquainted we start seeing flaws and we just don’t care, well then it might be true love. Love endures while infatuation wears off. You’ve heard the old saying that “love is blind” of course, but don’t believe it: love is accepting at face value; infatuation is not seeing initially what we don’t want to accept. Therefore infatuation is blind, not love.

    I speak from my own experience. Several times I believed that I was in love. In some cases it turned out that I was (and because the relationships always ended for one reason or another, these occasions were devastating). But more than a few times, I came to realize that I no longer had intense feelings for the woman after a few months. Initially, love and infatuation were indistinguishable. Only time could make the determination of which one had afflicted me.

    When I met my wife (and it might help you to know that I’ve been married only once), I was almost 40 years old and had come to realize the difference between love and infatuation, though I still could not recognize this difference until the passage of weeks or months. After our second date, I knew that I had been struck by one or the other—but how could I know which one? As we grew closer over the following weeks, I wanted so badly to tell her that I loved her, but was afraid that—as had happened before—I would discover weeks later that it wasn’t love after all. I didn’t want to give her the impression that I was ready for a lifetime commitment until I was sure, as had happened before, which was always very traumatic for the woman in question and left me feeling terribly guilty. So I was honest with her and told her how I felt, and that I couldn’t determine whether it was infatuation or love, but I assured her that time would solve this dilemma, and it did. Three months later, I proposed to her and she managed to hold off the marriage another four months, even though by then I knew there was no doubt in the matter and was very eager to tie the knot.

    We have been married for eleven years now.  If this is mere infatuation, I have the worst case in history!  With every passing year we’ve grown closer, though this didn’t seem possible even from the start.  She has faults that I recognize (a few; who doesn’t?); not only do I accept them, but some even charm me, like her inability to perform basic math, even though she can do algebra and calculus in her head.  Now I seriously can’t imagine life without her.  She is my entire world, and I’ve told her that she is stuck with me like a fly on flypaper, though hopefully without the looming fear of a grisly drawnout death or tacky feet.

    So my advice is this: be honest (this is a basic, the most important quality of any healthy relationship), which does not mean spill your heart; just don’t lie. It really isn’t that hard to be honest. Secondly, give the relationship time. We often allow ourselves to get carried away in a new relationship, especially when things just click. That’s okay: fall head over heels, talk about her incessantly and piss off every friend you have, relish the queasy yet appealing anticipation of that nightly phone call and insist that your partner hang up first. Be a geek for love; be a dweeb for romance, a nerd for embarrassingly public displays of affection and call each other cute, blitheringly stupid pet names in insipid childish voices (by then, you would have lost all your friends anyway, so why not?). But whatever you do, wait until you’re sure before you say the “Big L” or you may ultimately—and unintentionally—break someone’s heart.

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