I’ve been told that a relationship — or the beginnings of one, at least — are not much different than a puzzle. Initially, it is quite easy to build. However, as the relationship progresses, it becomes substantially more difficult to determine which piece belongs where. I’m sure we are all guilty of trying to force pieces into specific spots as we grow increasingly annoyed with the puzzle.
Love doesn’t seem to be so different. When a relationship starts, it’s rather effortless. As the relationship continues, it becomes harder. How does one know if the pieces to the relationship are headed toward “true” love (whatever that may be) or if it's merely an infatuation — a manufactured Hollywood version of love?
Love, according to the dictionary, is “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.” Meanwhile, infatuation is defined as “the act of inspiring foolish or extravagant love or admiration.” Let’s take a moment to analyze these definitions. I think the two key words in each definition respectively, are constant and foolish. Love is characterized by contentment and stability. Infatuation is driven by thought and desire, rather than heart.
Love is measured in time, a manifestation of a couple’s physical chemistry developed over a reasonable period. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine people just wake up one day and decide to be in love. Love is a progressive, conscientious decision.
I, by no means, am trying to minimize the romance and passion in a relationship. I would argue that because love takes so long to develop, the romance is much more intimate, as you know you both share an immeasurable connection with each other.
When you love someone, you love him or her because it feels good, it’s natural and it’s healthy. It doesn’t require thought or consternation. Neither partner is trapped in his or her heads, questioning the legitimacy of the relationship. No one is hung up, spending his or her time analyzing every little thing. The relationship is a symbol of security, of peace.
When you’re in love, you are not projecting your insecurities onto the other person. You experience an element of selflessness — there is no expectation associated with the relationship. You love the person simply because.
Infatuation is measured by desire. Infatuation is selfish in that regard, as you project onto a person your idea of who you think he or she is. You get a superficial notion in your head that the person in whom you’re interested can completely fulfill your needs until you deem those needs met. There is nothing equal about infatuation.
A person who is infatuated with his or her potential suitor is using the suitor to fulfill personal needs. That’s why you constantly wish to be around that person, which can be incredibly stifling for him or her.
Merely an intensified crush, infatuation has been known to cause a feeling of euphoria that is similar to recreational drug use. Infatuation results from those very addictive chemical reactions in the brain, which is why it progresses so quickly. It is an addiction of sorts — you recklessly invest yourself in order to get that fix and there is no time to think rationally.
Likewise, when the feelings pass, you will likely be left feeling unfulfilled. There is nothing truly healthy about this sort of relationship. Ironically, when it ends, you’ll feel used because you’ll realize that what you thought you needed was not the answer. You should never feel like you need a person — you don’t need a person by your side to define who you are.
Putting the pieces together
Back to the puzzle: When you are in love, you will be confident that you will be able to complete that puzzle. There is a solid partnership between you and the pieces, a mutual understanding to help each other. It takes time to finish, but you will never find yourself giving up on it out of frustration. Infatuation is that puzzle that you never end up completing, the one that just sits there.
When you see it, all the bad memories keep flooding back to you. In the beginning, it might have seemed like a good idea. However, as you progressed, the pieces just wouldn’t fit.
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