We all know the all-too-common scenario of guy meeting girl and wham! the world turns upside down, love songs suddenly seem to be written just for you, the air is crisp, life suddenly becomes beautiful, and everything falls into place.
This mental picture is usually what we conjure up when we think of falling in love. But is it really love?
Given the fact that the Philippines is the only country in the world that does not have divorce (besides the Vatican City) with the cost of annulment ranging from P200,000 to P500,000 while taking between 6 to 4 years to become final, it becomes imperative that we define this elusive concept of real love. Mahal magpa-annul!
But can we really come up with a good working definition of love? And how is it different from infatuation? I believe we can. This is my humble offering to show the difference between these two very complex states of being.
- Real love is a choice and not just a feeling. Both love and infatuation involve our feelings, but real love also involves the rational part of our brain. It is an intense and enduring fondness and regard, whereas infatuation is an irrational desire characterized by urgency and intensity of physical attraction. It brings on euphoria and an overwhelming adrenalin rush.
- Love is a verb. It’s easy to love when everything is smooth sailing. Unfortunately, it is only when the rubber hits the road and difficulties come that love is brought to the test. Real love often passes this test because it is a choice, a commitment to choose to love despite challenges and difficulties, differences in opinions and personalities. It is “choosing we, over me,” so to speak. Infatuation often fizzles out when difficulties arise.
- Real love is realistic. It views the person from the lens of logic and reality instead of the infatuation’s rose-colored glasses that elevates the object of desire to god-like perfection where “we just love everything” about the person.
It is based on friendship and shared values. He or she is someone you would choose and cherish as a friend. You must genuinely love each other’s company and experience emotional and not just physical intimacy.
While it is true that opposites attract to some extent, there must be a bedrock of similarities on non-negotiable issues like values, priorities, life goals and directions.
Infatuation often doesn’t involve this kind of enduring affection brought on by friendship.
- It takes two whole individuals to make a whole-hearted relationship. Real love means loving yourself first and being whole without looking for someone else to complete you. If you really think about it, it is creepy to have someone say, “you complete me.” Because it means without you, they’re a walking half of a human being. Forget Jerry Maguire and let your logic prevail. You must feel happy and fulfilled as a person first before you can attract a partner who will love you the way you deserve to be loved. You have to be Ms. Right before you can meet your Mr. Right.
- Love happens over time. You cannot truly love someone you do not know. So, love-at-first sight might be more appropriately called lust-at-first sight.
- Real love stands on the three pillars of commitment, trust, and respect. There should be a commitment to work things out and see each other grow. There must be mutual trust. We must believe in each other’s trustworthiness as evidenced by each other’s consistent, trustworthy actions over time. Jealousy is an indication of insecurity or a desire to control and not love. Lastly, we must respect each other’s boundaries and personhood.
I know all these may make love appear too sterile and logical, it doesn’t mean though that the kilig factor won’t be there just because it is real love, it just means that it isn’t the only thing going for you in your relationship.
I’m sorry if I’m such a bummer with Valentine’s Day looming ahead but wouldn’t you want to guard your heart against heartbreak? So, cheers to discerning between real love and infatuation!