Sex Ed in Bed
Infatuation Intoxication!
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

We’ve all seen it in others. A friend is taken by a “sweet young thang” and before a month goes by, the two of them are convinced they were born to be soulmates. What’s worse is they’re already looking for an apartment together. We all can see it’s not going to last, except for the punch-drunk couple. What makes me laugh out loud is that I’m just as “off my rocker” when it happens to me!

I love infatuation. I can’t get enough of it. Everyday is better when I’m infatuated with someone. It is positively intoxicating. I have the strength to conquer any difficulty when I’m infatuated. However, in hind site, I have made some pretty silly, yet painful and regretful decisions under its influence.

Does this mean that infatuation is evil, wrong, inadvisable, and avoidable? None of the above! In fact, in her groundbreaking book, Love and Limerence, Dorothy Tennov investigated over 500 people about their limerent experiences. With very rare exception, her research showed that everyone “falls in love” with someone or something at some point in life, whether or not this kind of love is returned.

Noticeably, this experience has several labels with slightly different meanings — infatuation, “in love,” limerence, “a crush,” and more. For some reason, the title “infatuation” rings most true for me. As you can see, creating an accurate title, much less an accurate definition is incredibly elusive. And don’t get me started on how our society idealizes it, more so than an actual relationship. Needless to say, infatuation alone does not a relationship make. But who’s to say we can’t enjoy both! So consider an approach that helps maximize the pleasure and minimize the pain of infatuation.

First, recognize that infatuation comes and goes in different degrees. Tennov found that, except for a few cases of unrequited love, the infatuated state is not constant, and not always focused on the same person or object. Accept it as one of the hard facts of life, but don’t forget, chances are, it will be experienced again.

Second, a large part of what we initially see while infatuated is what we think we see in the other person — what our fantasy is of the other person. So it might be “love at first sight,” but that doesn’t mean I thoroughly know the other person. If it was possible for my love interest to completely and instantly reveal to me all that he is, I still have to remove all of the unrealistic fantasies I place on him, and vice versa. But, honey, that doesn’t happen overnight. Even if we were the most self-actualized, present, truthful, issue-free guys, it still takes time. There’s no wrong doing or flaw on anybody’s part. It’s just plain interpersonal limitations. So how is it possible to make an authentic commitment to another when much of what I see is possibly unreal? The better question is, why make such important life decisions while we’re so high on infatuation?

Of course, people do it all the time, but mostly, a premature commitment is more about attempting to capture and prolong the good feelings of infatuation, than it is about informed, mutual life planning. Granted, we’re not consciously grasping at straws, we really are blinded by this overwhelming joy.

So the solution is easy — don’t make big decisions, just enjoy! You’re already “gah-oo-gah” about each other! Ride the wild fun of getting to know each other. Why not revel in the discovery, and soak up every drop of vulnerability offered by your revealing stranger. Dive headlong into pleasuring each other and become intoxicated investigators. Have so much fun that there’s no need to make any decisions yet. Play so creatively that there won’t be any lifelong regrets. Count on infatuation changing over time, and figure out the details of the future after sobering up. I know it’s cliché, but if you’re meant for each other, that will still be true a year from now, so take your time making commitments, but have all the fun you can choke down.

This approach has been helpful for couples in open relationships, too. Maybe my partner is infatuated with that guy he met on, but it’s not the end of our relationship. It’s just infatuation, and everyone involved knows, sooner or later, the excitement will calm down.

So lap up every drop of infatuation you can get your hands on. Just don’t sell the farm because of it. Simply make a promise to yourself to wait six months before making any kind of commitment to someone else. I’ll bet hard cash that when the commitment is made, the infatuation will flare up all over again — even hotter! So why over-plan? Enjoy!

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