We’ve all been there… someone intently staring your way as if they can’t tear themselves from the sight of you! You wonder what’s up? You begin to think they are interested in you. You preen a bit. And then you discover they have been watching the muted and closed-captioned television on the wall behind you! Being someone’s object of desire is intoxicating! Life suddenly snaps with electric interest! You wonder how you could have ever felt bored or depressed! Each new day seems overflowing with possibilities! So what’s this all about? Partly it is the sensation that you have worth, at least in another’s eyes. It is the realization that anything can happen and that at this moment we matter!
As we pursue a relationship with the object of our desire however, the feeling of intoxication dissipates like morning fog burned off by the sun. Beyond the immediate impact of infatuation, authentic love requires that we at least begin to value the other for themselves and not for how they make us feel. At some point authentic relationship requires that we stop selling ourselves to the other. We must stop presenting ourselves to the other with a self-aggrandizing agenda and simply be honestly present. Gradually the focus of relationship moves away from “me” to “them” and “us.”
In counseling sessions I have heard some pretty incredible reasons for wishing to dissolve a marriage! “He eats with his mouth open. She snores. He’s never on time. She spends too much money.” Never do I hear something positive like “She’s too considerate. He values me too much. She sacrifices too much of her time to be with me. He always thinks of me first.” When infatuation has run its course a relationship can become the sacrament of our maturity if we engage with it correctly. Where we once thought of our interests first, one can become aware of serving them first. Where we once were dying to have someone ask us about our day, we begin to discover an actual curiosity about them. Where we once couldn’t have cared less, we begin to discover that despite our selfishness we do care! The temptation in the Garden of Eden was that of choosing the Self over others. Each day that tempting apple is still being offered to us anew. Do we choose intoxication or authentic love?