( By Dr. Vithal Prabhu )

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Love is an intense affection and deep feelings for some one. It intends the welfare of the other. Love has different colours. Love for parents, love for a friend, love for elders, love for the country, etc. Each type of love has a different shade and hence the requirements, the duties, the expectations and the behaviour differ accordingly. Love between a boy and a girl or the love between a husband and a wife has entirely a different shade. It is very special and involves deep relationship. One common thing for all types of love is that it involves responsibility, loyalty, sacrifice, empathy and respect towards each other.

Love should be conducive to mutual growth. To love some one and to be loved by some one are the basic needs for the development of a healthy personality. These needs are fulfilled initially by the parents, relatives, friends and later by the husband/wife. A person who does not receive love, is not able to offer love to others. Love Versus Infatuation The unfortunate part is that the ‘infatuation’ is taken as ‘love’ by the adolescents. Infatuation is a physical attraction, excessive passion and too much admiration of a person. If the relationship is superficial, immature, selfish, one sided, then it is not love but infatuation. If both understand each other, are interested in the other's welfare and feelings, are selfless and mature, then it is love.

Maturity does not necessarily corelate with chronological age. Infatuation is a quick process and is through an attraction towards a single physical aspect of the other person (e.g., handsomeness or beauty). It is devoid of consideration of pros and cons of the relationship. The individual thinks constantly of the other and desires constant company of the other. On the contrary, love is a slow process. It involves maturity of thinking, considers all possible aspects of the other individual, thinks pros and cons of relationship and shows responsible and selfless behaviour. Infatuation is temporary, though intense. It changes from time to time depending upon the situation. (A boy may change his lover when he shifts his residence or when he changes the educational institution.) This does not happen in love. That is why infatuation is called “Puppy Love.”

Love is a step-ladder like process. Introduction, attraction, friendship, companionship and love are the steps and finally culminates in the marriage. Infatuation is at first sight, not love. Is it Wrong to be Infatuated? No. Infatuation is quite a natural phase of development. During the adolescence, nature prepares boys and girls for reproduction, the essence of life; and hence promotes them to manhood/womanhood. This promotion is not merely by physical growth but also by strong attraction towards the opposite sex to effect reproduction. This is so in every living being, including plants and animals having two sexes. It is alright to be infatuated during the adolescence. It is the first step towards development of friendship into a mature relationship.

However, it is necessary to understand that it is NOT love. This will help the adolescents to realise its temporariness; and take a decision not to involve deeply or to take a premature step of involving into a sexual or marital relationship.

How to know whether this is Love or Infatuation?

  1. If you love him/her but he/she does not love you, it is infatuation. Real love is a two sided involvement.

  2. If one person is giving and the other person is always receiving, it is infatuation. Real love is a ‘give and take’ rather than ‘give or get’ policy.

  3. If you constantly think of another person, so much so that it interferes with your studies, it is infatuation.

  4. If you frequently find fault and have arguments, it is infatuation. Real love means a lot of understanding for each other.

  5. If there is constant demand for something (including sex) by the other person, it is infatuation. Real love is associatated with responsibilities. Sexual relations are to be entered into only after the marriage.

Pitfalls of Infatuation

  1. Adolescents feel great to fall in ‘love.’ They receive constant messages through the mass media like cinema, T.V. and novels. Here, a hero and a heroin meet somewhere; they instantly fall in love; then a villian appears on the seene to challange their love; some how the villian is killed and the two get married and live happily thereafter. In reality, it does not happen so. The ‘love’ glorified through these media is in reality an infatuation and such marriage tends to break soon. The reasons for this are many. It is after marriage that they both come to know the true colours of the other person and realize that they have selected a wrong partner. They find that there is nothing common in both of them. The expectations from the partner are great and they are hardly fulfilled. Both of them are aware of their rights but not of the responsibilities. It is only after the marriage that they realise the faults of the other.

    The conflicts begin. Gradually the relationship becomes thinner and thinner and the faults become thicker and thicker. A day comes when they realize that they are NOT MADE FOR EACH OTHER and the marriage breaks. Breaking of a marriage is not a simple thing. The problem is not limited to the two individuals concerned, but also is of the children and of the two families. Though both are free to re-marry, the psychological trauma of the first marriage takes a long time to heal. All this is because of infatuation being considered as love.

  2. Under strong emotional pressure, many adolescent boys and girls try to hide their relationship from their parents, run away from home and get married in a religious place by garlanding each other. Some commit suicide in a hotel after writing a note, “We wish to show to the world that our love is eternal”, etc. Nobody takes notice of their act, except the police. All the above actions are immature and foolish. Those adolescents who luckily overcome such emotional turmoil and escape agony, laugh at themselves in later life and thank their stars for not getting carried away.

  3. When a boy and a girl get in contact in an isolated place, the nature does its job. Both become sexually excited, they hug and kiss each other. The boy inserts his penis in the girl’s vagina and he ejaculates his semen there. She becomes pregnant.

    Many girls are unaware that such a single act also can cause pregnancy, the sole responsibility of which lies with the girl. She is also unaware that the woman misses her menstrual period when pregnant. It is when the abdomen becomes big that the family members suspect of her pregnancy. At times, it is too late for abortion. It is the girl who has to go through all the ordeal of parent’s wrath, social criticism, physical and psychological pain. Being known of a loose character, it is difficult for her to get married. Therefore, the returns of a good control on the emotions and a good character are tremendous. The commonest cause of unmarried mothers in the world, is ignorance about the process leading to pregnancy, i.e., sexual intercourse. Motherhood after the marriage is holy and praiseworthy, while unmarried motherhood is a stigma, since it is through an unacceptable, unsocial, immature and irresponsible act.

  4. A boy and a girl may be in love, may have a good time, fun including sex. A day comes when the girl asks him to get married with her. He may refuse by giving some lame excuse. For him, the love means sex without involvement; and for her the love means, intimacy, romance with involvement. She feels terribly disturbed, distressed and cheated.

  5. A boy who is addicted to sex may pretend to love several girls at the same time, only to have sex with them. An innocent girl may become victim of his lust. The sexual relations between them may transmit STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) or HIV/AIDS infection to her.

  6. A boy may pretend to be in love with a girl, take her to an isolated place, rape her and may kill her.

When in Love, How to Proceed?
There are certain golden rules which you should follow.

  1. Do not continue to meet without the knowledge of your parents. They are your well wishers. They themselves might have gone successfully through such stages and might have had valuable experience which you might not be aware of. They will gladly share with you their guidance and advice. If not agreeable, you may discuss with them and try to convince them.

  2. If he/she loves you but you do not love him/her, then do not be subjected to his/her appeal on account of pity or because you would loose such a chance of having a partner.

  3. Do not hurry. Time is the best factor for testing his/her sincerity and honesty. Be rational than emotional. The head is on a higher level than the heart. Let not heart rule the head. Be vigilant like a CBI agent till the integrity of the person is proved.

  4. If he/she is also in love with some one other than you, leave him/her then and there, since his/her sincerity is questionable. Do not try to convince him/her or to encourage him/her to break the bonds of love with the other person, since your efforts may be futile. Breaking of ‘love’ may be agonising and unbearable for you, but rest assured that it is momentary and you will soon overcome the disappointment successfully. Time is the best healer.

  5. Infatuation is short lived while love is long lasting. Therefore, ‘WAIT’ is the code word for success. If attraction progresses further into friendship and love, well and good; otherwise cut the relationship short. Never repent for your action. Adolescents, though physically mature, are immature for taking important decisions like selection of partner, till the age of 20-25 years.

  6. Never say YES for sexual relations. This activity should be reserved for a special person and should be only after the marriage.

  7. May it be infatuation or love, it should not disturb your daily routine including your studies.

You should not succumb to the false modesty and be a prey for someone’s lust. Love and Sex Love and sex (intercourse) ideally should be interlinked with one another. It is something like body and soul. Adolescents mix up these two. They feel sex as love. In fact, sexual attraction is more intense than love in them. Sex should follow love and not precede it. To establish the bonds of love, the two have to have companionship, empathy, friendship and mutual understanding and also readiness to make sacrifice. This takes time. It is true that the love culminates into sex and the sex strengthens the bonds of love. The right time for this is after the marriage. There could be sex without love and love without sex.

The example of the first is of having sex with a commercial sex worker (prostitute) where the union is merely for physical pleasure and for money without emotional involvement. In later years of one's life, the desire for sex wanes away, while the bonds of love and friendship strengthen. This keeps the elderly couples happy. A young man too, when away from his wife, will control his sexual desire and will never enter into a sexual contract with another woman if he really loves his wife. Love is associated with sincerity and devotion to the spouse and in turn is associated with loyalty.

Dos and Don'ts in Love

  1. If you are a teenager and you are in love, do not hurry to make promises of engagement or of the marriage, since your decision may be premature or you may change the decision. Be steady till you complete your graduation or till you have crossed twenty. This will give you enough time for maturity and also to assess the compatibility between the two of you.

  2. Girls need not avoid friendship with boys because of a fear of getting deceived. Friendship between boys and girls is a sign of healthy attitude and relationship. It enriches your personality. It makes you understand the thinking, feelings and behaviour of the opposite sex. This will help you to understand your spouse in later life. A friend should be treated as “friend” and not as a “boy friend.” Boys too should not cross the limits while having friendship with girls.

  3. Girls may receive love letters from those they may not like. Never reply to these letters. Never respond to their phone calls. Ignore them. If a boy dares to tell a girl, “I love you” and if she does not wish to enter into a love relationship with him, she should say 'NO' plainly and clearly. If he continues to follow the girl inspite of the refusal, she should inform her parents, the principal or the police.

  4. Dating and petting are ways of the west that have entered into the east. Petting means touching and fondling of different parts of the body of the opposite sex. It arouses sexual excitement. This can result in uprotected sexual intercourse, unplanned pregnancy or STD/HIV infection. Therefore, petting can be dangerous. Casual kissing and hugging may not be that dangerous, but this should be permitted only if the relationship is intimate, strong and steady. Kissing should be taken as an expression of exhibiting affection. It does not cause pregnancy as many girls think.

  5. If a boy invites a girl to his home, she should neither refuse nor accept the invitation instantly, but should say, “I shall let you know later.” She should ask the following relevant questions to herself and/or to the boy: “Do I know him well ?” “Am I old enough to accept such invitation?” “What is his intention to meet me at his home?” “Has he invited others or me alone?” “Will my parents like me to visit him?” “Do I have time?” “Is it late in the evening or during the day?” “Will his parents be at home when I visit?” She should decide only after securing positive answers. It is a healthy practice for boys and girls to come together to play, read, discuss or for study. A group meeting will always be encouraged by the parents, while meeting with an individual alone or meeting at odd hours may be discouraged by them. Girls do not like to be “overprotected” by their mothers. True, but only the mother is aware that the victims of sexual abuse are invariably girls and hence she is more cautious about her daughter rather than her son.

    It may so happen that a boy may invite his girlfriend to his home with an excuse to show his collection of stamps or with some other excuse, when his parents have gone out. There being no one at home, he may close the doors to make sexual advances.

    The girl may be caught unawares and may find hard to refuse him. She should be bold enough to bluff and say, “I am having my period, stop it.” If he continues, she should warn him, “If you do not stop, I shall shout at the top of my voice and straightaway inform the police.” Still better way would be to anticipate the problem and turn round from the door step when you final nobody is at his home. Girls are lured by some boys for sexual relationship, taking due care to use contraceptives to avoid pregnancy. However, girls are not mature enough to know the long term consequences of sex and hence girls should firmly refuse such requests. Once he has a “taste” of sex, there are chances of repetition of such acts. He may even blackmail her and involve her in a sex scandal. As this is endless, it is better not to begin it at all.

  6. It is not uncommon amongst boys to pretend to be in love with a girl, promise her to get married, seduce her, have sex with her and then get away and ditch her. The girls should be aware of some of these excuses for demanding sexual relationship. “Any way, we are going to get married, what if we have sex after marriage or before marriage?” “I love you and you too love me; so why don’t you say ‘YES’?” “Prove that you love me by saying ‘YES’ for sex.” “If we have sex, we will come closer.” “I shall do it only once, please! “If you will not permit me to have sex, I shall commit suicide”. “Do not worry, I shall take care of you.” “I shall do it superficially. There is no danger in doing so.” The reply to any such appeal should be firmly ‘NO.’ If he is an understanding person, convince him that love is caring. Love is sacrifice. “I say ‘NO’ because I love you.” No body will go crazy or die if sex is denied.

  7. There are other extremes too. Some boys and girls may be liking each other, might have been faithful and committed to each other, but may feel shy to express their feelings or may not be bold enough, to say, “I love you” because of a fear of refusal. The boy/girl should not be shy to enter into conversation, make friendship and say “I love you” as and when the friendship is mature. A rose-day also is a suitable occasion. If he/she refuses, heaven is not going to fall; accept it and continue the friendship without any bitterness. It is better to be refused than to be a coward and not to express the feelings of love.

Let us conclude this chapter with Paul’s great essay on LOVE. “Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude, never selfish, not quick to offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs, does not gloat over other’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope and endurance. Love will never come to an end” There are three things that last forever: Faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is “LOVE.” This is what real love means.

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