This Ann Landers
essay has been reprinted
multiple times over the years, mostly by request of the readers. I've had a copy pasted into an old journal
of mine since 1995
. The reader who requested it had been carrying a copy in her wallet
, stating that it's guided her through "a dozen relationships and helped her recognize the real thing
when it came along."
Rereading it today made me realize that it's not a question of "real love" vs. infatuation, it's more a guideline for questioning whether a relationship is healthy or not. Of course, the comments referring to love are indeed a good measure as to whether or not you're actually on the right path towards the big event.
There's only one part of this essay that I didn't entirely agree with. Perhaps I'm a bit of pervert, but come on, Ann! You must not be gettin' the right kind of nooky, because the more I love someone, the more I want our encounters to end up in bed. *deviant grin*
For you poly folk, take this with a grain of salt. It has the standard "I've been betrayed in the past" monogamist sub-tone to it, but I still find it valuable, thought-provoking, and inspiring. That said...
Is it Love or Infatuation?
Infatuation is instant desire - one set of glands calling to another. Love is friendship that has caught root and grows, one day at a time.
Infatuation is marked a feeling of insecurity. You are excited and eager but not genuinely happy. There are nagging doubts, unanswered questions, little bits and pieces about your beloved that you would just as soon not examine too closely. It might spoil the dream.
Love is the quiet understanding and mature acceptance of imperfection. It is real. It gives you strength and grows beyond you - to bolster your beloved. You are warmed by his presence, even when he is away. Miles do not separate you. You have so many wonderful little films in your head that you keep replaying. But near or far, you know he is yours and you can wait.
Infatuation has an element of sexual excitement. Whenever you are together you hope it will end in intimacy. Love is not based on sex. It is the maturation of friendship that makes sex so much sweeter. You must be friends before you can be lovers.
Infatuation lacks confidence. When he's away, you wonder if he's cheating. Sometimes you check.
Love means trust. You are calm, secure, and unthreatened. He feels your trust, and it makes him even more trustworthy.
Infatuation might lead you to do things you will regret, but love never steers you in the wrong direction. (note the pipelink)
Love is elevating. It lifts you up. It makes you look up. It makes you think up. It makes you a better person than you were before.