The following was published in the newspaper when my English teacher was in 11th grade, and she cut it out to save in her journal. Today she passed copies out to us.
And since she's usually pretty good about copyright, I'm assuming I'm allowed to share it with you. (Sorry about the masculine pronouns--it was in an advice column addressed to a girl whose boyfriend wanted to run away with her.)
Love, or Infatuation?
Infatuation is instant desire. It is one set of glands calling to another. Love is friendship that has caught fire. It takes root and grows--one day at a time.
Infatuation is marked by 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 quiet understanding and the 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 want him nearer. But near or far, you know he is yours and you can wait.
Infatuation says, "We must get married right away. I can't risk losing him."
Love says, "Be patient. Don't panic. He is yours. Plan your future with confidence."
Infatuation has an element of sexual excitement. If you are honest, you will admit it is difficult to be in one another's company unless you are sure it will end in intimacy. Love is the maturation of friendship. You must be friends before you can be lovers.
Infatuation lacks confidence. When he's away, you wonder if he's cheating. Sometimes you even check.
Love means trust. You are calm, secure and unthreatened. He feels that trust, and it makes him even more trustworthy.
Infatuation might lead you to do things you'll regret later, but love never will.
Love is an upper. It makes you look up. It makes you think up. It makes you a better person that you were before.
"Love is friendship that has caught fire." I love that.
The problem with our language, I think, is that no one knows what the heck "love" means in any given context. This obviously goes for "does he like you, or does he like you like you?" thing, but what about the rest of the time? What about when you're actually in a relationship? Some people throw the word around like it doesn't mean anything, and some people take forever to say it to each other. What about in relationships of the non-romantic variety?
As much as the phrase "no homo" irks me, I think there really is a need for a new word for strong yet completely platonic feelings. The Greeks had what, four words for love? I tell my best friend that I love her all the time. Because I do. And she knows exactly how I mean it, and I can do the same with many other people.
But what about guys? There are male people that I greatly respect, admire, and care about in the same way, but that would just be awkward and weird on both sides. And that seems pretty of unfair to them.
That's straying away from the topic, though. Romeo and Juliet were not in love, but that's the word they used for what they were feeling. "Infatuation" is there, of course, but it has such a negative connotation to it that people don't want to use it. And "deeply in like" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.
And if Romeo and Juliet were shown this newspaper clipping, would they agree that they were infatuated? No. They would use "love" anyway. Which is a problem, for a number of reasons:
- It is possible and okay to be in a happy relationship and not be in love. That's why there is "like." The whole emphasis on "he hasn't said I love you!" is ridiculous. You can be attracted to and care about each other without being in love. Or infatuated, for that matter.
- Glamorizing unhealthy relationships as love makes it seem like said relationships are okay and/or ideal. My sister was listening to a song yesterday about someone who was willing to jump in front of a train for the girl he likes. Risking your life for someone is one thing. I would put my life in a not-insignificant amount of danger for many people. Jumping in front of a freaking train is something else entirely, as is not physically being able to live without someone (unless you've been together for decades, of course).
- It makes "love" mean less. At some point in the distant future when I am in a relationship I intend to last for a good while, I want to be able to say "I love you" and be told the same thing back and have it mean without question all of the things the newspaper article says it should.
But yeah, those are my thoughts for the day.