THE FOURTEEN CLUES OF LOVE
Warnings about these clues:
1. The order is not important.
2. No clue can stand alone. All of them are important. Failing one or more does not mean you have to break up with your partner right away. It just means that you two are not ready for marriage and need more time to work them out.
3. One-sided loves won't work.
CLUE 8. How Do Others View You Two?
Infatuation: few or none of your family and friends approve of your relationship. Your beloved's friends likely don't think much of you, and your friends aren't very fond of him or her, either. Each of you will also dislike the other's friends.
Real Love: most or all friends and parents approve. You like each other's friends and fell comfortable with them, because you have a good deal in common. What brings friends of the same sex together? If you are heterosexual you choose same-sex friends not on the basis of sexual attraction, but because of their personalities and because you have lots of interests in common. You like to talk about and do many of the same things. In infatuation, you have been drawn to each other largely by physical attraction. This is completely different from what attracted you to your same-sex friends. Therefore, since the two of you have few interests in common, few if any of your friends approve of your choice. On the other hand, if you really love each other, your relationship is also base on the many interests you share. You are friends as well as lovers. Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. Since you like in each other the same kinds of things you like in your friends of the same sex, then all of you have a great deal in common. You all have lots to talk about, many of the same interests, a great many similar ideas. Thus you are all far more likely to get along well together. So most or all of your friends will approve of your relationship. So if few or none of your friends approve of your boy or girl friend, beware. Your "love" interest is probably based on physical attraction and sex. But if many friends approve, that suggests that you have much mutuality, many things in common. These factors are basic elements in a real love relationship. It follows, then, if most of your friends approve, you are more likely in love. Ask yourself. "Can you be yourself naturally with the person you love? Does he or she bring out the best in you, or the worst? Are you genuinely proud of this person? Do you enjoy being with him or her in the company of your family and friends?" To these queries we would add one more. Are the same qualities present in your beloved that you like in your same-sex friends? If they are not present, proceed with caution. It may be just infatuation, not love. When parents do not approve of a marriage, the failure rates are very high. Most parents love their children. So if your parents think you're about to make a big mistake, they are likely to oppose it. They don't want you to get hurt, to be robbed of future joy. If they're convinced you're making a poor choice, they just may be right. Since they don't have stars in their eyes like you do, they may be able to see the situation more clearly than you can. If so, then they are being your friends, not your enemies, by showing their concern or by not approving of the relationship. There is one exception to this. In a few cases, parents may not be emotionally grown up, not willing or able to release sons or daughters to live their own lives. In such cases, if the young person is ever to marry he or she must do so against the parent's wishes. But such cases are rare. So if your parents object, be very sure it is they who are immature and not yourself before moving ahead. It's usually a mistake for parents to "lay down the law" and forbid their children to see the person they object to. That will probably just drive the couple into each other's arms. This is known as the Romeo-and-Juliet effect. Studies have shown that parental opposition may actually cause a couple to fall deeper into "romantic love" or infatuation.
There is strong evidence that peer and parental approval tend to indicate love. Divorced persons were almost four times as likely to complain that they and their spouses had no mutual friends. That is, they seemed to have little in common with the other's friends. Happily married couples were far less likely to have problems with each other's parents. Divorced men were three times as likely to list "interference of in- laws" as a major complaint. This bears out the view that real loves are more likely to gain the approval of parents. When most friends and parents object, take special care. They are trying to tell you something you should know. But if most or all of them approve, that is a good sign.
CLUE 9. What Does Distance Do?
Infatuation: absence makes the heart grow fonder - of somebody else! In infatuation Sue and Sam have been interested mainly in each other's physical equipment. That is, what they can see, hear, smell, taste or touch about each other. Such interest is hard to sustain when they're separated by a thousand miles. Since only a few things attract them to each other, the roots of the relationship are thin. It won't last long unless it gets nourished by a lot of face-to-face contact.
After the infatuated couple is apart for a few days or weeks, they begin to lose interest. After a while the physical equipment of some more available person begins to look good to them. So if it is infatuation, it will die with distance. Real Love: survives separation. It may even grow. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. Why? Because love is rooted in attraction to the other's total personality, not just physical appeal. When you are in love, a great many of the tendrils of your personalities tend to grow together, to unite you into loving oneness. When you have to be apart, you are not your whole self.
CLUE 10. How Do Quarrels Affect the Romance?
Even a couple united by love will quarrel once in a while. Any time two people seek to merge the many facets of their personalities, there will be rough edges to iron out. That is to be expected.
So be prepared for some friction even if you're in love. You will disagree on a few things. Some aspects of your lives won't fit together well, at least not right away. There will be many adjustments to make, and sparks may fly at times until you get things worked out between you. If a couple said they never quarrel, one of three things is true. First, they may be lying through their teeth. They've quarreled and they know it. They just won't admit it.
Second, they quite honestly may have forgotten. Over the years a couple may well discover more creative and constructive ways to settle disputes. They don't argue, they discuss. They learn the art of give and take.
Third, at least one of them does not stand up for his or her own personal rights. That's not a marriage. One dominates, the other just submits.
So the important thing is not whether you quarrel, but the way you quarrel. Ask yourself three questions. (1) How severe are our quarrels? (2) How often do they occur? (3) What is the final effect of quarrels on our relationship? The answers are good indicators of the nature of your romance.
Infatuation: quarrels will kill the relationship, and they tend to become more frequent and more severe. Since your main attraction is physical and the number of interests you hold in common are few, the few things you do have in common soon prove too weak to give lasting support. The fabric of your romance starts to wear thin. You begin to lose interest. You find yourselves disagreeing on more and more things, so more and more often you quarrel. The words get more harsh and full of mean barbs. You hurt each other more and more deeply - and you may even do it on purpose.
After each quarrel, you kiss and make up. (That part is oh, so wonderful, be it love or infatuation.) But your renewed closeness does not last. The bonds between you continue to go to pieces. Finally, the sour times overshadow the sweet. One or both of you decide that it's not worth the struggle. Hard as it is to do so, you break it off. You may go back together a time or two, but there are no bonds of love. In time, you break for good and go your separate ways. Be glad, not sad! You're lucky you had it happen before you were wed, because happen it would.
Real Love: lives through quarrels, and quarrels become less frequent and less severe. A loving couple has a broader base of things in common. Their relationship can absorb a good deal of strain because it has a firmer foundation.
In love you feel more an art of each other, so you have more of a stake in working things out. You see a future together and seek to claim it. You try harder to find good substitutes for conflict. You learn to communicate in more creative ways.
For instance, you can learn to discuss frankly without arguing. Nobody wins an argument; it just confirms both of you more solidly in your own views. One couple makes it a practice never to reply in anger, no matter how great the urge to do so. When one of them gets angry, the other just shuts up until the dust settles.
"I'm sorry" may well be the hardest words you'll ever say. But atonements bring at-homeness. It is only common courtesy to show others that we regret a past mistake. Such an admission will likely call forth warm acceptance and response in kind from the other person. Does love really mean never having to say you're sorry? On the contrary, one should never take the forgiveness of another for granted, no matter how deep the love bond between you. Maybe our loved one does not demand that we say it, but it will be much appreciated if we do.
Quarrels can be constructive. An electrical fuse serves to keep a sudden burst of strong current from blowing out the whole power system. It may be better to blow off some steam and spoil an evening than to blow the whole relationship.
While they may do some good, quarrels can also do a lot of harm. Some studies show that quarrels may act more as a hair trigger than a safety valve.
Perhaps the key to constructive conflict is mutual caring and respect. A principle of child rearing could apply here. If a child ever has to be spanked, it should be done out of love,
never out of anger or spite. The punishment should indeed hurt the parent as much as the child.
So it should be with marital quarrels. When the couple talks straight with each other, there should never be any doubt about an underlying bond of love. Each should be quite sure that the other deeply cares and is supportive, not destructive. The quarrel should not leave the partners hostile, hurt, angry, or bitter. The motive is to make the relationship better, not tear it down or destroy it - and each other.
Some couples tend to break up and then get back together over and over. They can't seem to get along with - or without - each other for very long at a time. This is more likely to happen if they are involved with sex.
Sound the alarm bell! Most alert counselors know that if a couple breaks up and gets back together more than once during courtship, it's a bad sign. The couple should take fair warning. If it keeps happening before the wedding, it's likely to follow that same pattern afterward - and get worse. Who wants to put up with that for the rest of their lives?
CLUE 11. How Do You Feel about and Refer to Your Relationship?
Infatuation: If a girl is infatuated, time and again she used the words I, me, my, and he, him, his. She did not once use words like we, us, or our. She was unwittingly revealing her true feelings. By the use of these terms she has betrayed that she is still keeping her own identity carefully separated from his.
That tells us that she has not yet come to think of herself as part of a couple. She has not yet invested her self in the relationship. She's still clinging to her own selfish identity. That points to infatuation. Real Love: Two persons who have real love, on the other hand, come to feel that they are no longer separate, but have in great measure become one. Since they see themselves as a unit, as a couple, they tend to use we and us and our when they refer to what happens to them. It seems only natural and right to do so. They don't even have to think about it. They are simply so much alike in motivation, attitudes, values, interests, and viewpoints that the differences between them are reduced to a minimum. There results a strong feeling of oneness; each person feels fully accepted, protected, and secure. They are still unique, separate persons, but they merge themselves into a pattern of common bonds. In this sense they have become "unselfed."
In love, the couple gives up much of their separate selves, yet by doing so each becomes even more fulfilled as a self. A person's identity is not stifled by love; it is enriched. As they become a "we," each is at once a more fulfilled "I." They get double enjoyment out of everything they do. In the first place, each of them enjoys things as individuals just as they did before they were in love. But in addition, they have the added joy of sharing those things with the loved one.
CLUE 12. Are You Selfish or Selfless?
Clues 12 and 13 may well be the two most important in the list. They have to do with whether a couple are self-centered or other-centered. They deal with the basic, core attitude that each person displays toward the other. Such elements will be crucial to the success or failure of any marriage.
Infatuation: Why does Mike like to date Kate? She's the school's Homecoming Queen! Not that he likes her all that much. She is pretty and popular, but she's also spoiled and selfish. Still, he likes to date her because, since she's the "queen" of the school, dating her makes him the "king." He's the envy of all the fellows when they see him out with her. So he dates her, not for herself, but for the boost it gives to his ego.
If you are infatuated, your ego response to the other person is mainly selfish and restrictive. Your prime interest in the relationship is what it does for you.
Maybe you know someone who keeps a guy "on the string." She doesn't care much for him, treats him like dirt. But his devotion to her builds up her self-image.
Then there's the guy who keeps wanting to make his partner over to suit himself. He is not content that she be herself. He wants to change her into the person he wants or needs her to be. These are both examples of selfish infatuation.
It's not wrong for you to have your personal needs filled. Every person needs that. But when your overriding interest is your own selfish wants and needs, when you have little or no concern for the wants and needs of your partner - then that's not love. It's infatuation.
Some guys date girls just for the thrill of necking or petting - or more. Sex is utterly selfish, using the object only to get satisfaction. If a man's interest in a woman is just sex, then when he is through having sex with her, he is through with her, period - until he gets the urge to have sex again. In real love, it is always concerned with the welfare or happiness of the other person, regrets the other's absence even right after sex, wants to be together with the object, feels lonely without it.
Real Love: your ego response tends to be unselfish and outgoing. You care as much about what's good for the other as for yourself. You want her or him to get as much out of the relationship as you get. Love is a state in which each one of two people realizes that his or her happiness can be attained only when the other also is happy. As a consequence, each one lives not only for one's self but for the other, sometimes even more for the other than for one's self.
If you're in love, you will share thoughts, feelings, attitudes, plans, hopes, interests, even intimate things you would share with few if any others. And the more you share, the more committed to each other you will become. If you are in love, you will also want to keep these shared secrets pretty private - even sacred.
Commitment - a Law of Life
Not only is the unselfish commitment of one's self essential to a happy marriage. It is also important if we are to gain fullness of life in any are. One of the basic secrets of life is that a higher fulfillment of self comes as a result of committing one's self to something higher and greater than the self.
That's a lesson that the so-called "me" generation needs to learn. Such a commitment helps us to rise above mere concern with our own selfish needs and wants. It opens whole new horizons of value and meaning for our lives. The person least concerned about self is the person who becomes most fulfilled. This paradox was set forth by Jesus of Nazareth: "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it."
If you love a spouse or a family not for themselves, but because they are your spouse and your children, then that is selfish - another kind of self-love. This, like any other type of self-love, serves to keep you from finding your peak of fulfillment. So if you are to be fully mature, your circle of concern needs to reach out beyond the self, even beyond your own family and local community as well. Indeed, now our loving concern must include all people everywhere - the whole of planet earth.
CLUE 13. What Is Your Overall Attitude?
Closely related to your ego response is your general attitude toward your partner. Are you concerned solely with what you get out of the relationship? Or do you find yourself wanting to make sure the other person is happy, and that his or her needs are also being met?
Infatuation: your overall attitude is one of taking from the relationship. You will find that your main concern is what you are getting out of it, plus what you hope to get in the future. The other person is seen as a means to gratify your own personal needs and wants, to attain your own goals and satisfactions.
You like the person not for what he or she is as a person, but for what that person does for you. You use the person as a stepping-stone to get things you want. Your partner helps you get attention, go places you like, satisfy your sex urge, climb the social ladder, get out of a bad home life, or a host of other private ends. In short, you exploit the other.
Such an attitude will not help you build a long, happy relationship. If you are willing to use the person for your own advantage before you marry, you will no doubt do so afterward as well. You will marry not for love, but for self- centered reasons such as greed or lust, position or prestige, a life of ease or security. These are scarcely the elements of real love.
Real Love: If you have found real love, you more and more want to give to, not take from, the other person and the relationship. You want to share, give of yourself to your beloved. You are intent on doing all you can to bring happiness to the other just as long as it does not spoil chances for his or her future fulfillment, or threaten your future together. When you are in love, you want your beloved to be as happy as you are. If you haven't yet reached that stage, then you probably do not love.
CLUE 14. Are You Jealous?
Infatuation: jealousy is more frequent and more severe. When you're jealous you want to keep him or her wholly to yourself. You are, in short, being selfish and possessive. Your concern is with what you want, not with what the other person wants. You're afraid that he or she might enjoy - or give some attention to - someone other than yourself.
Such a response is selfish. Your attitude is one of taking from your relationship. You are not willing to release the other person to do freely what he or she finds enjoyable. In effect, you are saying: "I want you to be happy, but only if you do what makes me happy. My happiness comes first, not yours." That is a sign of infatuation, not love. Jealousy is strongly associated with divorce. More than three times as many divorced than happily married persons report mate jealousy.
Real Love: If it is love, jealousy is less frequent and less severe. Not that you will never feel jealous. None of us ever gets to be 100% selfless. But the more you love the other person, the more you are able to release her or him. Release is an expression of trust, respect, and acceptance. To the extent that your love is not selfish, you can be free of jealousy.
If she likes to talk to another boy once in a while, he will not restrain her freedom. He wants her to be happy, even though he might prefer that she talk only with him all the time. She will not mind if he on occasion likes to dance with some other girl. Love does not restrict, it release. It does not imprison, it liberates.
That's why it's so important that love be mutual. If you love, you trust. That means you need someone worthy of that trust. That way you can free each other to be your true selves, in full confidence that your trust will not be betrayed.
As your love grows, so does your trust and confidence. More and more you learn to avoid the things that displease each other. As a result, jealousy comes to be less frequent and less severe. At length it may all but disappear.
Jesus said "Whoever tries to save his own life will lose it." If you set out to save your life, that's a selfish intent. The result is that you lose out on life. You miss the joy of giving, of being useful, of feeling needed.
SUMMARY CLUE: In real love, if you love someone so much that you want that person to be happy, even if you are not the one to make him or her happy, then you really love that person. But be sure you have read the signs right before you give up such a love.
A good, lively infatuation can be a grand and glorious thing. So when it hits you, don't do anything drastic about it right away.
First, be sure you don't get swept into some "quickie commitment" that you might later regret. By all means, take lots of time. Remind yourself that if the real stuff of love is to be found in your relationship, it will still be there next week and next month - and next year. No need to hurry into anything. You can never go wrong by taking your time. If your love is real, it will not fade. You can afford to be cautious, to wait. Be slow even to label it love. Above all, remind yourself that infatuation is never enough to build a marriage on.
Second, don't be too quick to get involved in sex. You will no doubt want very much to have sex. That is quite normal. The urge may at times seem too strong to curb. But sex can lead to a whole flock of new and needless complications. It can dull your ability to think straight about your relationship.
Infatuation May Grow into Love
If you determine that you're infatuated, not in love, you don't have to rush to end the relationship. Infatuation can and sometimes does develop into real love. Assume a wait-and-see attitude. If it doesn't last, fine. You have made no rash commitments, and you haven't dashed into sex, so you need have no regrets. If and when the break does come, you can much more easily accept it.
Breaking It Up
After you've given a relationship a fair trial and you're convinced that it's an infatuation with no future, you may want to call it quits. If you decide to do that, of course, try not to hurt your partner any more than you have to. Remove the arrow with great care. Be as nice about it as you can.
At the same time, you do the person no favor by putting off the breakup. That is cruel. As soon as you are sure of your decision, tell him or her right away. It may not come as much of a surprise. You have probably dropped some strong hints along the way that you had your doubts about the relationship.
In any case, be perfectly honest - and gently firm. If you see no future at all in the situation, make that quite clear. If there is no hope, offer the person none. And explain in full your reasons for the break. Remain friends if you care to. But be firm in you decision before you act, then stick by it if you feel you are right. Remember, if it's infatuation for both of you, you will both tend to get over it fairly fast.
If the person threatens you in anger, stall until you can get protective support from parents or friends. If he or she tries to hold on to you by threatening self-harm or even suicide, that is a bluff - unless the person is mentally sick. Even so, you cannot be held responsible for the immature reactions of others if you've done your best to be kind and considerate, yet truthful. A relationship that is continued under the pressure of threat is no relationship at all.