Love. It’s a commonly thrown around four-letter word. “I love macaroni and cheese.” “I love Vanilla Ice.” (Remember that?) Sometimes, even an “I love him” or “I love her.”
What is real love? And is there a difference between that and the heart-pounding adrenaline rush I feel when I see…? You know the person I’m talking about. That hot guy playing basketball at the gym… the cute girl who makes eye contact as she passes by… the friend of a friend of a friend… maybe a best friend. It’s that person we keep track of when he or she is in the same room, whose comments and actions we analyze to no end.
There are a few things love isn’t. Love isn’t a feeling. Although real love is often accompanied by strong feelings, love does not equate with the sense of floating on clouds. Unlike the type of love that movies, television, and songs portray, people in love don’t always feel ooey gooey around each other.
A relationship wouldn’t last long on emotions. In fact, knowledge is the basis of a healthy relationship.
Knowing about the other person is key. I used to and sometimes still do “fall in love” with guys that I have never had a conversation with, whether it be a movie star in the latest romantic drama or the guy sitting behind me in a calculus class. I would know his name and his face, and that was the extent of my knowledge of him. If I were to start a relationship with him, who knows where that would lead us!
Knowing about the person’s personality and character are so important. One good test is to list the qualities that attract us to that guy or girl. If the list is long, we know a lot about them and like those things. If the list is short, we either don’t know a lot about them or we know a lot but aren’t attracted to his or her personality.
Another important factor in a relationship is common life goals. If the relationship is going to be long term, we need to be going in the same general direction as the other person. If his dream is to travel as an international businessman and she wants to be a realtor in a single location, conflict could arise. If she wants to live in the countryside with nature and he likes the hustle and bustle of a big city, there are potentially serious problems with the direction of the couple’s lives.
Love isn’t sex. That statement alone goes against a lot of what the entertainment industry feeds us. Whenever two people hook up in pop culture, they have sex. Without showing some of the unpleasant realities of premarital and extramarital sex, it is drawn up to be a wonderful, fun recreational activity.
Sex is created for marriage–a long-lasting commitment between a couple. Outside of marriage, sex can have harsh consequences. Pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, guilt, insecurity, and shame can follow. A relationship based on lust can only last as long as the two are physically close and find each other sexually attractive.
Love is a choice. It’s a commitment. Although feelings will accompany love, and although sex will be a part of marriage, a lasting, healthy relationship cannot be based on these things.
The Bible says that God is love. God, as our designer and creator, made us with needs for love. Do you ever wonder why we constantly seek love from others but never feel completely satisfied? It’s because God designed us for an unconditional love, and we, as people, are flawed.
People, whether friends, family, or your significant other, will invariably let you down at some point. God wants us to find our need for love and acceptance in him first. One person cannot meet all our needs, even if he’s funny or she’s thoughtful.
We were made for God’s love, and God’s love alone can fill that need. Only after experiencing and knowing the unconditional love that God has for us, the love that drove God to send his Son to die for us on earth, can we begin to love others with the same quality of unconditional love.
TRUE LOVE 101: What does it take to be that significant other?
- Sees the other person as perfect
- Wants to get own needs met; selfish
- Spends all time with the other person
- Quickly “falls” for the other person
- Other relationships and friendships deteriorate
- Dependence on the other person causes jealousy frequently
- Lasts for a short period of time
- Distance strains and often puts an end to the relationship
- Quarrels are serious and common
- Quarrels can seriously damage the relationship
- Sees the other person’s flaws and still loves them
- Wants to serve the other person; selfless
- Still spends time with others
- Takes time to build the relationship
- Other relationships and friendships grow stronger
- Trust and understanding results in less severe and less frequent jealousy
- Encompasses a long-term commitment
- Survives and sometimes is strengthened because of distance
- Quarrels are less serious and less often
- Quarrels can strengthen the relationship
Infatuation can be so tempting. But the question is, do I want a lasting, satisfying relationship? If so, infatuation isn’t the answer. Look at your relationships through the grid above. Infatuation isn’t a bad thing, as long as we don’t base a relationship on it.
Credit: Harriet Sun