TADALA TEMBO says it is garrulous, meaning difficult if not almost impossible, to distinguish them. They look alike. They share traits. They appear the same. One is called love and the other, infatuation.
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (7th edition) defines them differently and, that is what they are: different things. Infatuation, according to the dictionary, is a very strong feeling of love or attraction for somebody, especially feelings that are unreasonable and do not last long. There is a problem, however, with this definition (like all definitions); for instance, what does ‘long’ mean here – one night, one week, one year, one decade or what? What qualifies feelings as those that have lasted long? Is not ‘long’ subjective?
And love, says the dictionary, is a strong feeling of affection for somebody that one is sexually attracted to. This is romantic love, the one we are discussing. But love, like poverty, is complicated and not easy to define. We define it differently. We explain it the way we understand it, the way we feel it, the way we want it. Thus, a dictionary definition is somehow not enough.
The definitions from the dictionary make love an element of infatuation but the reality is different. Nobody wants infatuation, we all want love. The moment a man proposes to a woman, he expects love (save for abnormal cases) not infatuation. The same is true of a woman when she accepts a man’s proposal. But, how many get that love and how many give that love?
There once was this lady I went out with. She was beautiful, as usual. I thought I loved her, now I know I never did. I thought she loved me too, now I know she never did. Time and distance tried our ‘love’ and found it wanting. It died.
That is the first element of love that separates it from infatuation. Time and distance. Love stands distance, it grows with time. Love can never be a victim of Geography. Never! Infatuation, on the other hand, is a victim of Geography. Time kills infatuation. Instead of having feelings for people we have been together with for long, we start to lose those feelings and say ‘my love is coming to an end’! Well, we lie there. It is not love that dies but infatuation does. Love, true love, never dies.
There is another thing that separates love from infatuation. Factors can kill infatuation but not love. Love can only be unconscious but not die completely. It is infatuation that does so, that dies – not love. If you say your love for somebody died then, well, you are explaining the feelings you had for that person, they are not love but infatuation.
There once was a story in the papers of a couple that remarried each other after a good number of years on separation. That was blissful, an example of true love. The point is that love can only be hindered but a time will come when it will manifest itself. Infatuation on the other hand cannot survive hindrances. The moment a reason is put against such feelings, the situation is accepted, the two part ways. But, that can never happen to love.
How do I know that the feelings I have for someone is love or infatuation? Well, many people feel guilty to accept that the feelings they have for someone is infatuation. But, I unlearned to never accept my state. Yes, I have loved some and others, it has been infatuation (I hope they won’t read this). Of course, many times I did mistake my feelings for love but now I know better.
How do we behave when those whom we say we love are not any near? The answer is what can tell whether what we have is love or infatuation. True, in love there are deviations, and mistakes too, but there comes a limit and that is what proves our feelings for those whom we claim we love. How do we act when our so-believed lovers are not any near?
The reason why we stay in a relationship with the people we do is yet another factor that can help us justify our feelings. Many relationships, and marriages too, are in existence not because of love. One lady told me that she could not leave her boyfriend because of the church. ‘They know we go out, they expect us to marry, we’ve been in a relationship for so long,’ she cried. In her statements there was nothing like love but reasons for what she said was her ‘love’ for the man. But, each time the two called each other, they finished their phone calls with prophesying their ‘love’ for each other.