Mar. 13, 2017

Have you ever been infatuated?


Mitchell began her story this way; I met this guy and we started talking. Instantly, I felt that I loved him. The connection was quick. As we talked, I listened to him, but could only hear vaguely. My senses were totally fixated at his charming appearance. Something wasn’t just connecting inside me about this guy. Apparently, he manifested all the qualities that I had desired in a man- fair, handsome, averagely tall, intelligent. His dentition was artistically fitted and matched his smiles perfectly. His laughter was loud and seemed genuine. He was jovial and amiable. From his looks, I guess he would be a little younger than me, but that didn’t matter. All I could perceive was having his arms around me. Then I asked myself this question, “Have I really fallen in love?”

Mom used to tell me that love at first sight was infatuation. What if I’m just infatuated? How do I identify if this was real or fake? Ironically, everything happened in one swift move. Jacque, as he called himself and I talked for a very long time that evening. We navigated from social to political, from family to profession, from public to very personal matters, in what could be described as smooth conversation.

I was to leave my hotel room the following morning. So, how come we’ve lodged in the same hotel for five days respectively without running into each other until that day. It was a lovely spring evening though. We first met in the dining room, then moved to the porch with a beautifully lit fire powered by charcoal. As the night got darker, Jacque requested I should accompany him to his room. It seemed as if I looked forward to it, so that wasn’t a surprise. My imaginations became real. I lay down in his arms till daybreak. “Where have you been after all? Why didn’t you show up all these evenings?”, was my question. I usually came down to the dining all evening and spent quite some time watching television and reading newspapers. He seemed to be asking similar questions himself but none of us could come up with an answer. I was glad for that night after all.

Jacque’s destination was Baltimore. He was attending a conference. I was traveling back to my base in Washington DC. We arranged for a cab to take us to the airport and boarded the same flight. Our romance continued inside the plane. What a trip! We kept in touch with each other days, weeks and months after. Jacque was always quick to take my calls, also called me from time to time. The relationship seemed to be getting deeper and deeper. He told me he lived in Austin, Texas. But how long was this relationship going to last? For me, it became a life project, same impression I got from Jacque. But one thing was unclear to me, he shied away from talking about marriage. Each time I brought the issue up, he would smartly change the topic. And I didn’t want to push because my guts told me he was the guy.

After a while, Jacque wasn’t answering my calls. I dropped series of messages but he wouldn’t reply. Initially, I thought he was perhaps away on a business trip or caught up in the mire of work related activities. I began to feel something was wrong. One day, he finally took his call with a wry tone. “Is everything alright?”, I asked. “Yes”, was his answer. Then he continued, “Why do you ask?” That came to me as a shock. Was he asking because he hadn’t seen my calls all these days, or did he not recognize my number again? I fell short of words, but managed to hold back my emotions. His voice was unusually low. Then he unleashed the bullet, “I’m sorry about everything”, he said. It wasn’t a big deal for me provided he finally came back. Perhaps, we could start talking again. But that’s not true. He continued, “I have been struggling to let you know about this but didn’t know how to start”. His voice started breaking as if he was suddenly under the weather. “I am not sure we could go on with the relationship. I am married”. That woke me up. All I heard him say repeatedly was, “I am sorry about the whole thing”. I tried to hold back my tears but couldn’t, suddenly the line went dead. And Jacque was gone. My dream is gone. My love just went away. Can love go just like that? I started feeling hate in my heart. Why did I know this guy at first? Why did I not ask all questions before getting that deep? How was I blindfolded? That was Mitchell’s story.   

I purposely decided to start up this week’s reflection with talking about infatuation. It seems like many relationships nowadays are built on infatuation. Importantly, St. Paul gives us the qualities of love; “Love is always patient and kind… Love never comes to an end” (1Cor.13:8). True love surely, should last a life time. And for sure too, marriage is one of the channels to measure love. When couples enter the marriage covenant, it becomes a relationship intended for life, separated only by death. The words of the consent say, “…Until death do us part…” Infatuation, on the other hand, focuses more on physical attraction. It looks at the person as physically attractive and worth having. Infatuation activates the sex organs and blurs the faculty of reasoning. Maybe, Jacque and Mitchell would have been good friends had they not started off with sex. That would have given them time to explore the relationship more, know each other more, ask relevant questions, know who they are, value each other and be sure of the direction which the relationship was leading them. Infatuation took the better part of them.

As parent, always let your kids know the difference between infatuation and love as they become teenagers. No other person can teach them better than you. That is the way to overcome sexual fantasies. First, help them to realize that initial attraction exists between young opposite sexes. To recognize that the initial tension brewing inside is not love but physical drive. It is an urge from the senses. You can succumb to it, you can resist it, the choice is yours. It is important to discover where the line is between falling in love and falling for sex. Love develops over time; infatuation rides fast and then collapses. Love seeks that which is deeper, infatuation concentrates on external appearance. Love goes for the soul; infatuation goes for the flesh. If Mitchel and Jacque placed love ahead of sex, both would have discovered that there was an impediment in the way of their relationship.

Young men and ladies searching for life partners should be careful not to be victims of their fantasies. Let’s conclude with Pope Francis exhortation: “The language of the body calls for a patient apprenticeship in learning to interpret and channel desires in view of authentic self-giving. When we presume to give everything all at once, it may well be that we give nothing. It is one thing to understand how fragile and bewildered young people can be, but another thing entirely to encourage them to prolong their immaturity in the way they show love. But who speaks of these things today? Who is capable of taking young people seriously? Who helps them to prepare seriously for a great and generous love? Where sex education is concerned, much is at stake” (Amoris Laetitia, 284).

Parents, use this Lent to reflect on your role as sex educationists for your children.