“I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!!” Over the holidays Buddy the Elf comically reminded me just how much we as humans love to be in love. It’s magical. Something is in the air. You see her in line at Starbucks. Your eyes meet. Then they meet again. She gives a little smirk and you smile back. If you’re lucky and don’t stutter you’ll be able to exchange a few words. On your way home you call up your friend – “I think I’m in love!”
You’ve been there. I’ve been there. No doubt we all agree that those are thrilling moments, especially if we sense a similar response from the other person. But is it really love? How do you know whether what I just described is the beginning of the greatest relationship you will ever experience on earth or simply another episode of infatuation?
To get you started, I have provided twelve tests that will help you understand if you are in love or if, in fact, you are experiencing what relational experts call infatuation.
These tests aren’t just for single people, though they will help anyone who is not in a significant relationship learn what kind of person to pursue and whom to avoid. For those married folks out there, unless you understand the radical difference between love and infatuation, you may set yourself up for devastation in your future years of marriage; skewed expectations may be robbing you of a rich, warm, and deep relationship. Not only that, if you are unclear about the difference, you may find yourself getting unintentionally connected to a member of the opposite sex who is not your spouse, naively concluding that you’ve now found “true love.”
Are you ready to take the test? Read the differences and for each test make a mental note of “L” for Love and “I” for Infatuation as you apply them to a current or past relationship.
The 12 Tests of Love
1. Test of Time – Love benefits and grows through time; infatuate ebbs and diminishes with time.
2. Test of Knowledge – Love grows out of an appraisal of all the known characteristics of the other person. Infatuation may grow out of an acquaintance with only one of these characteristics known about the other person.
3. Test of Focus – Genuine love is other-person centered. Infatuation is self-centered.
4. Test of Singularity – Genuine love is focused on only one person. An infatuated individual may be “in love” with two or more persons simultaneously.
5. Test of Security – Genuine love requires and fosters a sense of security and feelings of trust. An infatuated individual seems to have a blind sense of security.
6. Test of Work – An individual in love works for the other person for his or her mutual benefit. By contrast, an infatuated person loses his or her ambition, appetite, and interests in everyday affairs.
7. Test of Problem Solving – A couple in love faces problems frankly and tries to solve them. Infatuated people tend to disregard or try to ignore problems.
8. Test of Distance – Love knows the importance of distance. Infatuation imagines love to be intense closeness, 24/7, all the time.
9. Test of Physical Attraction – Physical attraction is a relatively small part of love, but it is a central focus of infatuation.
(Now don’t read “small part” as “not a part” in what I just stated. If your heart doesn’t skip a beat now and then and you don’t feel real attraction for your mate or the person you plan to marry, I’d call that a problem. In contrast, when couples who are in genuine love have any physical contact, it tends to have special meaning as well as pleasure. Couples often communicate volumes through looks. These tend to express what they feel toward each other.)
10. Test of Affection – In love affection is expressed later in the relationship, involving the external expression of the physical attraction we just described. In infatuation affection is expressed earlier, sometimes at the very beginning.
11. Test of Stability – Love tends to endure. Infatuation may change suddenly and unpredictably.
12. Test of Delayed Gratification – A couple in genuine love in not indifferent to the timing of their wedding, but they do not feel an irresistible drive toward it. An infatuated couple tends to feel an urge to get married – instantly. Postponement for the infatuated is intolerable.
Did you have more “L”s for Love or “I”s for Infatuation when you totaled it up?
This week we will begin “Broken Hearts, Broken Dreams” on Living on the Edge radio and online. God has wired you for intimacy – to love and be loved in a relationship that lasts forever. But as all of us have experienced, broken hearts soon turn into broken dreams with yet another failed relationship. This series will help you understand the common problems that plague today’s marriages and give you practical solutions for making your marriage or marriage to come… the exception.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead –
Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip