Is love a fancy or a feeling? Is it migratory like summer birds, fleeing when startled, or deep and still as a well, only drying up once all has been given?
When you think of someone often, is that love? When you constantly imagine how you would tell them this story or that fact, and how they will react. When either your gut twists painfully or your chest warms from the inside at the thought of their face, is that love? Or is it mere infatuation?
How can you tell the difference between the two? Too often the difference seen is whether the feelings are requited. If your spontaneous, slightly obsessive liking for another is appreciated and returned by its object, it is love. If it is not, then it is selfish infatuation, where you are only deluding yourself into love, because what you want isn’t the person, but the love.
Yet that should not be the case. Love is not truly love, in the words of an old song, until it has been given away. The warm glow of walking hand in hand with another, both content with liking one another, that is not love. At least not if it isn’t backed by something else.
An old wise Book tells us that love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. Nor is it arrogant, or rude. It does not insist on its own way.
That does not sound like a love dependent on another’s feelings. True love bears all things, believes all things. Endures all things. It isn’t simply warm glows or painful moments. It is not just your imagination lingering over their face. It is all of that and so much love. Love never ends, infatuation does.
Perhaps it would be better to say that infatuation is a love that never quite makes it to love. It is too selfish to let its love alone, too selfish to think of the best for the love without considering itself. Because even if you are required to let go of someone, that does not mean you do not love them. Perhaps it means your infatuation finally turned to love, as you realized that not coveting their time, or insisting on your own way, was the way to truly love that person. Maybe letting that person go was an act of love. And now there is another person in the world whom you love, unselfishly and full heartedly. And strange as it might sound, letting them go allows you to find another person to give away love to. Continually giving. Giving and giving. Until you have none left, but the world has been filled with all the love you could be capable of.
Perhaps that is the real point of living.