I was a freshman in college and in my first serious relationship. My boyfriend was funny, fascinating, and made life so exciting. It didn’t matter that he influenced me to do things that were against Scripture, had no ambition, didn’t follow through on his promises, and never treated me like a lady. I could overlook all those things because he was….. my “first love.”
Now that I’m in a godly marriage with my “last love,” I now realize that that first relationship wasn’t true love. Yes, I had strong feelings for him but it wasn’t love, it wasn’t lasting, and it wasn’t beneficial. It was infatuation. These two things, easily confused with each other, and often used interchangeably, are pretty much opposites.
Infatuation: Feels Good
There’s a reason so many people think they’re in love in many relationships: They feel pleasure, they feel “ooey-gooey” when their crush comes around. That’s because:
A surge of dopamine rushes through your brain causing you to feel good when you’re infatuated. Norepinephrine stimulates adrenaline (pounding heart), phenylethalimine (found in chocolate) creates a feeling of bliss in your brain and the hormone oxytocin signals feelings of emotional attachment. -(The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science, Volume 3 – W. Edward Craighead, Charles B. Nemeroff)
Infatuation can send you on a rollercoaster of ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of emotions. Having a crush isn’t a bad thing, I have a crush on my husband, but be careful of basing your relationship upon the “feelings” you have for your boyfriend. God warns us that feelings can NOT to be trusted (Prov.28:26) because He knows that strong, lasting relationships aren’t based on emotions but on love that continually does good.
Love: Does Good
When you love someone, you can still have those “crushy” feelings, but love does good to the other person, no matter if things are good or bad. That’s partly why marriage vows say “For better or for worse.” True love is committed, it acts for the better of your boyfriend or husband in every circumstance, whether good or bad. The Proverbs 31 woman loved her husband by doing good to him “all the days of her life.” No doubt, she and her husband had some rough days that left her without the blissful butterflies, but she still did him good (Prov.31:12). Real love is different because it isn’t an emotion, but a choice and a lifestyle. It doesn’t end and is not dependent on the other person.
Infatuation: Happens Quickly and Fades Quickly
It’s all around you, all over TV, in all the youth groups, even in your own children: Girls and guys saying “I love you” after they’ve been dating for only a few weeks. Some calling it cute,“puppy love.” Others scoff at the kid’s stupidity and lack of sense. But true love doesn’t come rushing in like those endorphins, only infatuation is produced that quickly. All those “crushy” feelings can be gone in an instant. And when those butterflies fade you’ll immediately question if you’re still attracted to him or still in love with him. Infatuation fades as quickly as it came.
Love: Happens in God’s Timing
Those who seek true and godly love are cautious (Prov.14:16). They don’t let their emotions get the best of them but patiently wait on love. As Song of Songs says, “Do not awaken love, until it so desires.” (Sgs. 2:7; 3:5; 8:4) True love comes with time, with getting to know the other person, who they are in Christ, and who they hope to be in the future. It doesn’t fade away in troubled times or quickly shaken. True love is ripened with time and waiting on for the Lord’s perfect timing.
Infatuation: Lacks Discernment
In the movie, “Dan in Real Life,” Dan has a teenage daughter that thinks she’s in love with her boyfriend. The teenage boyfriend gets caught sneaking into the house, against the father’s instructions, so Dan kicks him out and makes him go home. Of course, the daughter is sobbing and yells out at him, “You…are a murder… of LOVE!”
No doubt the daughter felt intense feelings for her boyfriend, but following those feelings made her disobey her father, made her feel as though her world had collapsed when she wasn’t able to see her boyfriend for a few days. Infatuation makes logic and rationality take a back seat to the heart’s passions (Prov.14:30).
Infatuation causes you to stop listening to wise counsel and go against it. (Prov.15:5; 18:2). When I was in “infatuation” I did so many stupid things because I thought I loved my boyfriend. I trusted my heart and it deceived me. I didn’t listen to the warnings or advice of others because I thought “how could they possibly understand our relationship, our love!?” I was being what Proverbs calls, a fool. You can’t talk to sense to a fool, they won’t listen to your advice or see the truth (Prov.1:7).
Infatuation can be harmful to you and others. Just look at harmful effects of infatuation with Amnon’s infatuation with his sister, Tamar (2 Sam.13) and Samson and Delilah (Jdgs. 16:1) because all discernment and godly wisdom were ignored.
Love: Uses Discernment
When you truly love someone, you keep wisdom and discernment close. The wise of heart, whether in love or out of it, listen to godly advice and follow it (Prov. 10:8). They keep their eyes on the ways of the Lord and do not stray from them just because they’re in love. With true love, you’re able to examine your relationship and your guy to see if they match up against Scripture, to make sure you’re going down the right path (Prov.3:6).
Infatuation- Sees the Bad, Chooses to Forget.
We’ve all heard the saying “Love is blind” but anyone who’s ever really been in love knows that you definitely see all that’s wrong with the person you love. In actuality, “Infatuation is blind.” Infatuation sees the object of their affection as perfect, without flaws. A person that’s infatuated, when they do see a flaw, will either try to forget about it or justify it. Their eyes are either blinded by lust or emotions. When I was infatuated with a guy, no one could tell me the guy had anything wrong with him. If my Mom tried to warn me or advise me about one of his faults, I would immediately get defensive, justify the fault, and chalk it up to “them not understanding him or our relationship.”
When you’re blind, you will eventually stumble and fall because you won’t take off the blinders to see what’s in front of you. Unless you have your eyes open to the potential pitfalls, how will you be able to see the things which might eventually hurt you or hurt him? There is no wisdom or godliness in being blind to sin.
Love- Sees the Bad, Chooses to Forgive.
Christ – the ultimate example of true love – showed love towards us by forgiving our sin, not ignoring it. He saw our sin, saw our filthiness, but didn’t choose to ignore it instead he chose to forgive it (Rom. 5:8), show us patience, and bear with us. True love continually forgives the wrongs (Col.3:12-14;Eph. 4:1-3). Just like God chose to love us when we were unlovable, we must love others even when they’re “unlovable” (Lk. 6:27, 35). It’s not because the person is good, but because we choose to love.
Love is a choice you make every day, with everyone. People say “You can’t choose who you love,” but God says you can. You choose who you become infatuated with and you choose who you will love. Infatuation is a feeling, love is a choice. Infatuation benefits you, love benefits others.
So, when entering into different relationships, be careful of being blinded by infatuation so much so that you end up in a hurtful situation that could have been avoided with wisdom.We’ve all made some unwise decisions when it comes to guys but take heed the warnings of others about your boyfriend, examine your guy and your relationship against Scripture. Ask yourself, “Does this guy or this relationship draw me closer to God, my friends and others?” Or “Does it tear me away from those who love me most and leave me in a rollercoaster of emotions?”
Remember, infatuation is worth avoiding. Love is worth waiting for.