The test of time
Love benefits and grows through time; infatuation ebbs and diminishes with time. Infatuation may come suddenly. We find ourselves thinking, Boom! I’m in love.
That’s actually infatuation. We probably ought to make an effort to avoid speaking about falling in love. We can fall into infatuation, we can fall into lust, but we most truthfully grow into love.
Love develops out of relationship and caring and core personal character traits, not our instant impression or perception of another person.
Infatuation can explode at any moment, but real love takes time. More than one wise person has advised not to declare love until a reasonable amount of time has passed.
The test of knowledge
Love grows out of an appraisal of all the known characteristics of the other person. Infatuation may grow out of an acquaintance with only one of these characteristics known about the other person.
Something about the way that person looks or the way he or she functions in a certain role may give you a very distorted idea of their full character. You may not even know the other person.
Frankly, a glance or a chance meeting can act as a kind of trigger that sets off the chemicals. Infatuation lives in a make-believe world where the object of our affection is perfect, flawless, and completely devoted to us.
Infatuation is happy to know very little. Love longs to know well. Love wants to study the other person’s needs, desires, dreams, and hopes because it wants to do everything to make them a reality.
Love is interested, not in what it can get, but in what it can give. The development of a relationship ought to be like an undergraduate degree in which the other person becomes a multifaceted and fascinating study.
Marriage, then, becomes a lifelong pursuit of a Ph.D. in knowing and understanding your spouse.
The test of focus
Genuine love is other-person centered. Infatuation is self-centered. You know what infatuated people are
The test of singularity
Genuine love is focused on only one person. An infatuated individual may be “in love” with two or more persons simultaneously. The great majority of affairs rarely occur solely on the basis of physical attraction.
They usually start out with a little chemistry during a time of vulnerability. But families break up because very good, godly people simply haven’t learned what to do in a situation where it suddenly feels so good to get some of the errors out.
They confuse infatuation with love and make foolish decisions. The life cycle of infatuation is nine to eighteen months. Then all those breathless and wonderful feelings leave, and you’re stuck with another person with the same kinds of needs that you have.
That person knows you can’t be trusted because you left your last mate. You know you can’t really trust them because, down deep, you’re afraid of experiencing the kind of betrayal that you inflicted on someone else.
What’s left are two unhappy people struggling with character flaws. If you don’t know the difference between infatuation and love, you’ll destroy others? loves and your own.
The test of security
Genuine love requires and fosters a sense of security and feelings of trust. An infatuated individual seems to have a blind sense of security, based upon wishful thinking rather than careful consideration; infatuation is blind to problems.
Or he or she may have a sense of insecurity that is sometimes expressed as jealousy. Security grows and flows out of deep awareness of the other person’s character, values, and track record. You know who he or she really is.
And when you know who they really are, you trust them. You are not jealous because you know their heart is yours. Jealousy is often a sign of a lack of trust, and a lack of trust is a sign of infatuation in real life
Excerpted from “Love & Sex, and Lasting Relationships”