Yet you have probably heard society’s subtle whispers: “Who would ever want someone like you?” or “You’re not (_fill in the blank_) enough to be loved.”
Then puberty hits, and hormones turn your longing for love into something deafening. And suddenly, a certain guy looks at you just right and—BAM! You’re sure you’re in love.
Is it really love? Or some fake feeling that will lead you down a path cluttered with regrets? How can you tell?
Love, Lust, or Infatuation?
Attraction is the first sign of “love.” And sometimes what starts as “love at first sight” turns out to be true love. But it’s really hard to know for sure until “love at first sight” passes a couple of tests.
The Test of Time
Love lasts. It doesn’t ride waves of feelings. It actually grows over time. It gradually creates a deeply rooted friendship strong enough to build a future on. Sure, there’s also physical attraction in Love. But that’s not its only focus. Love says, “I will be here for you. No matter what.”
On the other hand, Lust runs on physical desire alone. It comes on fast, demands what it wants—sex—and takes off as soon as desire disappears. Lust is always panting, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.”
Then there’s the naïve cousin of Love and Lust, called Infatuation. It’s what makes girls swoon over rock stars or fall for guys they hardly know. Infatuation sweeps in on a wave of emotion. It’s clueless about the real person it thinks it loves. Infatuation says, “I can’t help myself—I’m crazy about him.” Then, like a bubble, it pops.
The Test of Action
Another test of “love” is how it makes us act.
Love puts the other person first. It aims to build a relationship, so it will be patient and kind and generous. You can read more about the ways Love acts here.
Lust puts self first. It can’t be bothered with things like kindness and patience and generosity. Unless, of course, acting kind will help it get what it wants. (As in: “I’ll say what you want to hear if you’ll sleep with me.”)
Infatuation obsesses over the other person. It forms unrealistic dreams about them, gets breathless just thinking about them, but doesn’t really know them. When that other person sends messages that say, “No, I’m not interested,” it either plunges ahead in denial or collapses in a heap of heartbreak.
So What if It’s Not Love?
So maybe what you thought was love isn’t passing these two tests.
If you’re starving for love, you may feel like just settling for lust. You may think, “At least I’ll have someone who says they care . . . for awhile.”
Whoa. Don’t go there. That’s like some girl with diabetes shopping the cookie aisle when she’s missed supper. She’ll give in and pick up anything, no matter how much damage those Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Sugar Bombs will do to her.
A lusty romp with a sex partner may seem like a quick fix for your love starvation. But after the initial rush is over—if there is one—you’ll find you’re left emptier than before. And you may have just picked up a nasty STD to deal with. Or you may have started a pregnancy. Those are definitely not quick fixes.
Your best bet: wait for real love.
You can do it. Here’s how.
Love Yourself First
No one else has to declare you worth loving. You simply are. You are worth it because you’re you—a unique human being created for a singular purpose. “Being in a relationship” doesn’t magically make you more valuable or lovable. No one can add to your value. Start believing that today.
Nothing you’ve done can make you less valuable or lovable. Sometimes it can be hard to see past your past. But you can resolve to move forward in a better direction. And you might be surprised at the forgiveness and healing that is available. Talk about it with a spiritual leader you trust. Remember, you were created on purpose. Nothing you’ve done can change that.
Learn to love yourself just because you’re you.
One way to fill your longing for love is to start giving it. Try these suggestions:
- Volunteer. Help out at the animal shelter. Serve at the hospital. Learn how to be a Big Buddy to younger kids. Shovel a neighbor’s snow or rake their leaves. Help a teacher prepare classroom craft materials.
- Share your hobby. Make a gift for an elderly friend and watch their face light up. Bake a cake for a fundraiser. Teach someone else what you know.
- Babysit. Little kids can be some of the most loving people on the planet. Blow bubbles with them, cuddle them up with a good book, laugh together over their favorite show.
- Do random acts of kindness. Pick up trash at the park. Leave a thank-you note for the mailman. Walk your neighbor’s dog. Smile at everyone you see in the Walmart aisles. Send an encouraging text.
Look for Love in All the Right Places
Seek love where love is likely to be found.
That rules out places where people are chemically impaired—like bars or parties where drugs and alcohol steal personal control. It also rules out private late night events where you might be too sleepy to think wisely and too isolated to be careful.
On the other hand, group activities in public places offer great ways to get to know what people are really like. Surround yourself with people you trust. Plant seeds of friendship. Let friendships grow, and you may find the best one will sprout into love.
Here at Choices Pregnancy Center, we believe everyone deserves love.
But sometimes you may need to hear it from a friend.
If you’re feeling tugged toward giving in to something that you know isn’t love,
let us be that friendly voice that reassures you of your own value.
Call or text us. We care.