Am I in love or in love with the idea of being in love?

by Rod Smith

Please could you tips on how to tell the difference between being “in love” with someone and being “in love with the idea of being in love.”

Being in love with the idea of being in love is essential to genuine, lasting love. Without desire the real thing has no entryway.

Genuine love, while quite able to be caught up in romantic fantasy resists losing self, self-insight, the urge for self-preservation, and the urge to self-govern. True love sacrifices, is humble, serves, can desire to move heaven and earth for another, yet it never abdicates personal responsibility or enables others to do so. It has long-haul vision. It seeks little or nothing in return, yet it is also first self-preserving. Somewhat ironically, it is able to care for itself (love itself) just a little more than it cares for a significant other.

Loving the idea of being in love tends to make us responsive to anyone who reaches out. We become somewhat ill defined and demonstrate acts of romantic desperation. We idealize the candidate whom we deem will help us fulfill that fantasy and remain committed even when faced with urgent symptoms (warnings of friends and family) suggesting the relationship is ill fated. Reality doesn’t seem to matter. It’s “I’ll-make-this-work-even-if-it-kills-me” attitude and, sadly, it often does.

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