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How to Know if You're in Love, Part 2

From the series Love Sex and Lasting Relationships

If you could take a test and find out if you’re in love or just infatuated, would you do it? Well, if so, join Chip as he shares how you can know, for sure, if you are in love or just infatuated.

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Message Transcript

Number five is security. An individual in love tends to have a sense of security, and a feeling of trust, after considering everything involved in the relationship with the other person. In other words, there’s a sense of loyalty. There’s a safeness to being together.

An infatuated individual tends to have a blind sense of security based on wishful thinking, rather than upon careful consideration. He or she may have a sense of insecurity that is sometimes expressed in jealousy.

Test number six is work. An individual in love works for the other person, or for their mutual benefit. He or she may study to make the other person proud of him or her. Their ambitions are spurred on, and they plan and save for the future. He or she may daydream, but the dreams are reasonably attained.

By contrast, an infatuated person may lose his ambition, his appetite, his interest, his affairs in everyday life. He or she may think of his own misery, I just can’t live without them. I haven’t seen him in forty-five minutes.

The seventh is a problem-solving test. By the way, how are you doing? At least, mentally? “L”? “I”? Love, or infatuation? Problem-solving: A couple in love faces problems frankly, attempts to solve them.

If there are barriers to them getting married, these barriers are approached intelligently and removed.

When people are infatuated, it goes something like this: I’ve been married three times; you’ve lived with two different people. You want nineteen kids; I absolutely don’t want any. I’m sure it’s going to work out, because love covers everything. Right?

Test number eight is distance. Love tends to be constant. Infatuation often varies with the distance between the couple.

One of the greatest things that could happen in a relationship is a little window of distance. When you’re really in love, you keep writing. You think about the person. You keep the relationship up. When you’re infatuated, it starts to be a little “out of sight, out of mind,” because so much of what’s sustaining the relationship is how they look, and physical attraction, and all the little buzz that you get.

See, when distance causes your heart to wane, it’s probably infatuation. When distances causes you to begin to write, and to communicate, and think, and use the distance to deal with issues, it’s love.

Test number nine: physical attraction and involvement. Physical attraction is a relatively smaller part of the total relationship. And, by the way, smaller part. Let’s not over spiritualize. If there are no juices going toward this other person, if there’s not some attraction, I’m not sure what it is, but it may not be from God.

We have to be careful that, the culture is so out of balance, our biblical response can really get skewed. It’s a relatively smaller part of the total relationship when a couple is in love. It’s a relatively greater part when they are infatuated. When a couple is in love, any physical contact tends to have meaning, as well as be a pleasurable experience in and of itself. It tends to express what they feel toward one another.

In other words, when you’re in love, you want to guard the relationship, and so, actually, holding hands means something. Any progression in the showing of affection has to do with a greater and more significant commitment, while remaining sexually pure.

When you’re infatuated, you just want to get as close, and as much, all the time, as you can. It’s what drives the relationship. In infatuation, the physical contacts tend to be an end in themselves. It represents a pleasurable experience, but often devoid of meaning.

Jot in your notes, if you would, 2 Samuel chapter 13. It’s a very interesting biblical picture of this. David has a son, and David also has a daughter of another wife. The daughter is named, Tamar, and in the biblical usage, she is hot. Very attractive. Absolutely beautiful.

His son just is infatuated, overwhelmed with her beauty, and he wants her. And so, instead of going the right route – instead of building a relationship, instead of checking things out – he comes up with this plan, along with a friend, to pretend to be sick, asks the sister to come in and bring some food for him.

And if you read the story carefully, he begins to take her, physically, and she says, “Let’s do this right. Talk to your father. It dishonors God. It will dishonor me. It will ruin our relationship.” And he doesn’t listen. And he rapes her.

And then, there’s this amazing, interesting line – long before psychologists. And the interesting line is, “And he had now the same level of hatred for her that he had in love before he raped her.”

See, infatuation causes you to use people. The physical connection – we’re going to talk about that, very specifically, about the relationship, and knowing the difference between love, and sex, in our next time together. But physical attraction involvement – it’s normal, it’s important, but it means one thing to those who really are in love, and it’s at a progress where you remain sexually pure. And it means something totally different, and becomes an end in itself, when you’re infatuated.

Test number ten – very similar – is, in love, an expression of affection tends to come relatively later in the couple’s relationship. In other words, there’s time. “I want to get to know you. I want to see you with other people. I want to build a relationship. And so, I’m not going to begin to express affection until there’s a basis for it.”

By contrast, in infatuation, it may come earlier, and sometimes at the very beginning – in fact, usually at the very beginning.

The test of stability: Love tends to endure. Infatuation may change suddenly, unpredictably.

The final test is the test of delayed gratification. A couple in love is not indifferent to the effects of the postponement of their wedding, and they do not prolong the period of postponement, unless they see that it is wiser to wait a reasonable time.

They don’t feel an almost irresistible drive toward haste. When you’re infatuated, and you think, This is the right person, when anybody puts a little roadblock, like, “Hey, how about some premarital counseling?” or, “You know what? There are some issues to get resolved,” or, “You know, why don’t you come up with a financial plan?” or, “Don’t you think that your parents ought to be at least reasonably involved in this?” “No. No. We can’t. It has to be now! We’re in love!” Probably not.

Infatuated couples tend to feel an urge toward getting married. Postponement is intolerable to them. And they interpret it as a deprivation, rather than a preparation.

And I’m mindful of, reading the story of Jacob, and it says he waited seven years to earn the right to marry Rachel. And it says it flew by. And it flew by because he loved her, and he was willing to wait.

I do not recommend seven-year engagements, by the way. Take your time, process, get good counsel. We’ll talk about some specific ways. And then, once you’ve done all the hard work, and you allow the emotions to kick in, and allow the chemicals to go off – based on the spiritual, social, psychological, and God’s leading – then have a pretty short engagement. Because lots of bad things happen in really long engagements. And then, thank God for the gift that He has given you.

Well, let me ask you, just honestly, how are you doing? How are you doing? As I went through that, as a married couple, did you say, “Yikes, I’ve bought into testing the love in our relationship a lot more that’s infatuation than love”?

God has better. Okay? So, let me give you some ways to nurture the kind of love that He has given us. Are you ready? How to improve your love life.

I’m on the back page, and notice our picture. You might want to, at the very top, write the word God. You might, on the triangles, put the man on one side, the woman on the other. We know, you might even put an arrow of the man and the woman – God’s goal in marriage is oneness. It’s intimacy of spirit, mind, body, and soul. And you’re going to see that, in the center of it, is God wants you to experience love.

Now, the basis of love, what allows you to love, in both ways, is agape love. “Being dearly loved by God, walk in love.”

And then, the eros love is a very important part of God’s – the sexual attraction, the candlelight, the weekends away, the negligees – all the good stuff, all right? And the walks, the talks, the board games, the popcorn, the movies, the walking in malls.

So, over here, we have phileo love – best friends. Over here, we have eros love – passionate lovers. And here, brothers and sisters, living under the Word of God.

So, let me give you two suggestions. If you are a single, keep your emotions and physical involvement behind your leading from God, and commitment to the other person. Keep your emotional and physical involvement.

So, if we would go back to the triangle, God’s way, spiritual: Do they really walk with God? In fact, do they love God more than me? Social: How do they treat other people? What is their behavior before we start dating? Psychological: I want to really know them – their heart, their soul, their mind, their personality.

Now, all those things line up. The Holy Spirit has given you a green light. Ding! Let your emotions kick in. See where God takes it then. And save the full expression of God’s design, because the marriage bed is holy.

If you’re married, a word to the married: Love requires the nourishment of all three kinds of love. Examine which your mate needs most, and then choose to give that as an act of worship. Examine which one, of the kinds of love above, does your mate need, and then, as a choice, as an act of worship, you give it.

Let me just, this is a general principle. Don’t take this to the bank; it’s not always true. In general, when I talk to men, or have done counseling for most men are saying, “The eros part of our relationship is not really what I would like it to be.” Most women say, “The phileo part of our relationship isn’t really what I want it to be.”

And so, often, it goes like, “You know, if she would really be more affectionate, I would step up and be the man in the house.” “Well, until I’m nurtured in love, and cared for, how can I be responsive at ten or ten thirty at night, when here he is. We haven’t talked. I have all the kids. I also work. You know what? He hasn’t shaved in two days. He thinks I’m attracted to him? Are you kidding?”

And so, it becomes this unspoken standoff, often, that is not communicated.

Let me give you some specific ways to nurture. Eros love nurtured: Have a date night. Once a week, go on a date. Hygiene. Everyone, after they get divorced, what do they do? You go to the gym, and get in shape. Go there now! Eat better now! Shave now! Use deodorant now! I’m serious! Don’t come home, you come home to your mate, and if it’s, like, sweatpants, and everyone is dressed up at work, and you come home, and your wife looks like, Well…I mean, you love her but…

One of the greatest things Theresa did all of our married life was, boy, when I came home, she looked great. She actually prepared for when I got home. And it has been a huge help to me.

Non-sexual touching – guys! Every time you touch your wife, and she thinks, Oh brother, it’s the sex maniac again. She wants to be nurtured, and loved. Make it a priority.

Everyone wants everything to be so spontaneous and wonderful. Set a night a week – if you have kids, figure out what to do with the kids – and at least you both know, once a week, you can have something to look forward to. “Well, that’s not spontaneous.” Well, how is that, compared to what your current romantic life is like? I’ll leave you with that one.

And then, plan a weekend away. There is something that happens when you get away from work, and kids, and get away, where God allows you to really connect at the eros level.

In terms of the phileo, take walks. Have talks. Find something – a hobby, or something you do together. Discuss hard issues. Sit down and do the finances together. Play some table games. Throw on some popcorn. Watch an old movie. Get away together. Do things that nurture the relationship.

Now, you won’t feel like that, but remember, love is not a feeling, correct? Infatuation is a feeling. And so, what you need is supernatural power. You need agape love to choose to give the other person what they need the most, when they deserve it the least.

And so, here are a few suggestions to develop agape love. You personally begin to get into God’s Word, because there is no power apart from His Word. The Spirit living in you, as a follower of Christ, needs the raw material of God’s Word to translate the written Word to the living Word that births conviction, that the Spirit uses to change your life. No Word, no power.

Second, pray for your mate, the things you really want to see change. Nagging – how is that working? Or hinting. “Honey, I think you’re eating a lot of chocolates.” Oh, she is really going to love you now. Pray for them. What do you want to see happen in their life? Ask God to work in them. Pray together. Forgive them.

Some of the big barriers, you don’t want to be connected, you don’t want to talk because, if the truth is known, this happened, this happened, this happened, this happened, and you are bearing a grudge. You have to release them. You have to forgive them. “As God has forgiven you, so freely forgive.”

And that is the beginning. You get in God’s Word, you begin to talk, you begin to pray, you begin to pray together, you begin to say, “Coming to worship is a priority for our family” – God will work. In fact, I came across something – this is so good. I’m going to finish with this.

A little article, it’s very, very brief – it’s about a man. He said, “I made a vow to myself, as we were driving toward the vacation beach cottage, that, for two weeks, I would try to be a loving husband and father. Totally loving. No ifs, no buts. The idea came to me as I was driving in my car, and listening to someone teach on the radio, where he quoted the passage that ‘to love your wife is to love her in an understanding way.’ And then, he said, ‘Love is an act of the will, a person can choose to love.’”

And then, in a moment of honesty, he said, “To myself, I had to admit that I had been a selfish husband, that our love had dulled by my own insensitivity, and often in petty ways, like insisting that the TV channel that we watch is the one that I want, throwing a day-old paper away that I know she still wanted to read. “Well, for two weeks, all that would change, and I did it, right from the moment I kissed Evelyn at the door and said, ‘That new yellow sweater looks great on you!’” I mean, he had been out of town, she had been with the kids at the cottage. “‘Oh, Tom, you noticed!’ she said, surprised and pleased, maybe a little perplexed. “After the long drive, I wanted to sit and read. Evelyn suggested we walk on the beach. I started to refuse, but then I thought, Evelyn has been here alone with the kids all week, and now she wants alone time with me. We walked on the beach, while the children flew kites. “So it went: two weeks of not calling the Wall Street investment firm where I’m a director, a visit to the shell museum. I usually hate museums. I actually enjoyed it. Holding my tongue when Evelyn made us late to the dinner date, like normal. Relaxed and happy, that’s how the whole vacation went. And I made a vow to keep remembering to choose love in my relationship.

“There was one thing that went terribly wrong with my experiment. Evelyn and I still laugh about it today. On the last night at our cottage, preparing for bed, Evelyn stared at me with the saddest expression I’ve ever seen. ‘What’s the matter?’ I asked. ‘Tom,’ her voice filled with distress, ‘do you know something I don’t?’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Well, that checkup I had several weeks ago – our doctor, did he tell you something about me, Tom? Tom, you have been so good to me. Am I dying?’ It took a moment for it to sink in, and then I burst out laughing. ‘No, honey, you’re not dying. I’m just starting to live.’”