“I think he loves me — he can’t keep his hands off me. The problem is: I’m not sure he knows me. We jumped into an all-consuming intimate relationship…and now that I want more, I’m not sure it’s there. He answers all of my questions in a please-don’t-ask-me-another-one tone.”
There’s nothing quite like infatuation — as long as neither partner wants more.
Sex parades as intimacy. And infatuation parades as love, but only until somebody opens their eyes!
The “perfect love” we seek is formed by Passion and Intimacy and Commitment. It’s easy to get confused under the influence, though.
PASSION is erotic attraction (and a potential blinder). INTIMACY is a psychological knowledge of each other, and how attracted you are based on what you know. And COMMITMENT is the decision that you love each other and want to maintain that love.
According to Robert J. Sternberg, Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, there are eight types of love formed by different levels of the three ingredients:
Perfect: high passion, high intimacy and high commitment.
Shallow: high passion and high commitment, with low intimacy.
Companionate: high intimacy and high commitment, with low passion.
Romantic: high intimacy and high passion, with low commitment.
Empty: high commitment, with low passion and low intimacy.
Infatuated: high passion, with low intimacy and low commitment.
Liking: high intimacy, with low passion and low commitment.
Non-love: low passion, low intimacy and low commitment.
Sure enough, our reader has Infatuated Love. And while she may be ready to get to know her partner better, perhaps add some Intimacy and move up to Romantic Love, he could be content with Infatuated Love.
It may also be apparent what type of love you and your partner have, and what type of love you both want! Some of your past relationship struggles may come to mind as well, and, after the fact, they may seem downright comical.
We may think we are looking for Perfect Love long before we are truly looking for it, or ready for it. Unfortunately, we may be married and divorced before we even understand what love is.
And even after we understand love and think we have found it, holding on to it can be an ongoing struggle. Almost inevitably, one person is ready for more before the other person is OR has a different picture of what more looks like OR simply gets distracted. Thus, our pictures collide.
When they do, we may lose ground in all three areas — Passion, Intimacy and Commitment. One scenario looks something like this: He’s had a bad day, and he’s still unwinding when you come out and announce you’re ready to leave for the party. He reaches for the keys, but fails to notice your can’t-miss-it red dress.
Your Passion takes a dip. Then instead of asking about his day, you put up a defensive wall. Now you both hurt. Maybe you shut down, or maybe you blame each other. You miss out on the bonding (or Intimacy) that would result from honestly expressing your feelings. Maybe you even go so far as to question your Commitment (if you have one)!
Passion, Intimacy and Commitment continually act to strengthen and weaken each other.
Once you realize that you both want the same thing, together, you can stop working against Perfect Love. You can realize that his bad day has nothing to do with how hot you look in the new dress. And he can realize that explaining his bad day can help to relieve some tension all around.
Sounds ideal, I know. You don’t have to be ready for Perfect Love, but don’t kid yourself or a partner.
Infatuation can be blind, but Perfect Love is 20-20. And once you understand Perfect Love, you can have clarity even without it.