Rabbi Chaim Sampson
Have you ever been infatuated? Did you think you were in love?
So, if you think you’re in love when you’re infatuated, then how do you know when it’s really love and when it’s only infatuation?
Many people get married when they’re infatuated, thinking that they’re in love. Then a year or two later the infatuation fades and the relationship comes to an end because there really was never any real love.
So the key is to know the difference between the two.
Judaism gives a definition for love.
Imagine you were speaking to my mother and said to her: tell me the positive qualities of your son. So she would say something like: he’s so sincere, and warm, caring and intelligent, always smiling …tries to help out etc. As she says all this, you could imagine her breaking into a smile and saying: I love him! When you focus on the virtues of a human being and identify them with their virtues – that that’s their essence – you’ll feel the emotional pleasure of love.
Hate is the opposite. When you feel someone is just so arrogant, he thinks he’s G-d’s gift to mankind, he’s always thinking of himself, he never says sorry, always using people for his own selfish ends etc – you’ll feel feelings of hate. You’re identifying the person with his or her faults.
So what’s infatuation?
Imagine a young lady who comes back from a party where she just met “the guy of her dreams.” She tells her friends all about him: I just met the most incredible guy. He’s so sweet and caring, warm and giving, handsome and strong… we just clicked straight away.
This feels like love – because she’s appreciating what she feels are his virtues – just like love. So what’s the difference? When you’re infatuated you think he’s perfect. That’s because you desire to feel that he’s perfect, but the truth is that you really don’t know him – you don’t see the faults at all.
Is love blind?
Who loves us the most? In general – our parents. Who gives us the most criticism? In general – our parents.
This is because our parents know us. Parents see both the good and the bad. In fact they see the faults with a magnifying glass! Nevertheless, they identify us with our virtues – that our essence is good. They see the faults too, but realize that’s not our essence. Love isn’t blind. It’s infatuation that’s blind – you really don’t see the person for who he or she really is – it’s the illusion of love.
So let’s say you said to my mother – isn’t it true that your son is a little inconsistent, usually runs late, can tend to be a hypochondriac… she’ll say: “it’s true, but he doesn’t mean to be; he’s a little weak… it’s the way I brought him up.” When you love someone you see the faults too, but you don’t condemn the person for them. You feel compassion. You see how he’s trapped in it – he’s weak or confused. But his faults do not define him.
When you’re infatuated, you hardly see the faults at all. There’s no real and deep knowledge of the person.
The key therefore is to ask yourself: do I really see and know what his or her faults are. If you think you’ve met the perfect person, run a million miles, because you’re infatuated, not in love!
- li>If you would see someone walking down the street with one arm, and then someone says – I hate that guy because he’s got one arm – you’d be outraged. How can you hate someone for only having one arm? You should feel compassion!
Now someone who’s walking down the street with a big ego and selfish attitudes has an even bigger handicap in life. Someone with a big ego is going to have a hard time with his parents, boss, and marriage. He will not be able to learn from others. All in all, he probably won’t be so happy. Don’t judge him for his or her handicap either. Feel compassion for the problems he’ll have as a result. He’s hurting inside.
- The verse in the Torah says: “Don’t bear a grudge…love your neighbour as yourself.” Resentment blocks love.
Interestingly, we don’t resent our children for their faults or the things they do wrong. The reason for this is that we see them as an extension of ourselves. This creates the space for the love we have for them. Similarly, one of our arms doesn’t get back at the other if we cut ourselves by mistake – because there’s no point – we’re just hurting our own selves all the more. If you look at other people as an extension of yourself, you won’t resent them for thei