“I love them”. I’ve said that more times than I can count, about more people than I care to admit. But, I’ve only been in love once… with one person. In a long term (3 -or so- years) relationship. I said I love you than and I don’t for one second think it was wrong to do so. Love, for me, is deep understanding (not just of the good parts of a person, but the bad as well), close and often undivided attention, hope, pleasure, trust, and desire. It comes not from a pretty face, but a face you know every detail of. Not an excitement, but a long, slow burning commitment. Love is glamorous and precious, but is is not (NOT!) infatuation.
Infatuation feels a hell of a lot like love, though. That’s why, a month into knowing a cute boy, I say to my friends, “I’m like not even kidding, I fucking love him”. And, I do believe I have a kind of love. An adoration. But, it is not “in love” relationship love. Cannot be. Infatuation is “love at first sight”. It’s the nervousness and electricity of new connection and it is one of the best feeling in the world. But, it is what crushes are made of, not relationships. Of course, most of us never start a relationship “in love”, so infatuation is all we have to go upon. And that is perfectly fine. The only insidious part of infatuation is misunderstanding it. To be infatuated is not to love… it is wanting to love.
Infatuation: “he’s the one”, “I just feel like I know him”, “I’ve never felt like this before”, “he’s all I think of”, “we just… click”. Love: “I really hate what you just did, AND I still care about you”, “yeah, that reminds me of your brother, Alex’s first girlfriend”, “I thought you hated eggs over easy?”, “I can’t fuck, tonight, I ate all those chips”, “I literally can’t talk right now, just leave me the fuck alone”, “can you tell me I’m pretty and rock me to sleep?”. Both are precious and the first often bleeds into the second, but to confuse the two… is well… dangerous. It leads to those shotgun weddings and regrettable tattoos.
I wish I’d known that in high school, when every crush I had felt magical in an “end-all-be-all” way. I still feel that excited about potential lovers, but I also see the delusion my mind is falling under. We all get this way… infatuated. It’s a low level of insanity. We sweat, shake, forget how to speak, fantasize, obsess, and plan. But, it’s all inevitably temporary. I like infatuation… it’s a sort of drug I have fun experiencing from time to time. It is imperative to my sanity, however, that I possess some sort of rationality. When I think things like, “he’s the only one for me”, I try to think of the other people I’ve said that about. When he doesn’t respond to my messages and I feel like running into a burning pit of fire, I try to remember my own worth and all the people that have been infatuated with me. The truth is, there are a million more people you could be infatuated with. Which, yes, -I know- takes some of the magic away from it, but also helps you from losing your mind everytime ‘Derek’ “finds someone else and wants to stop fucking”.
Love is better. Harder, longer, less crazed, and real (not some hormone filled lunacy). Infatuation can make me into a psycho… and I’m not a psycho. I’ve watched my most intelligent, confident friends be reduced to sputtering fools. And, well, I think it’s all ok. It’s part of being youthful, sharing intimacy, and building connections. But, When you feel like you’re losing your mind, remember everyone feels this way and there is always another ‘Derek’.