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CLUES                                             CHARACTERISTICS

Clues to Look for: Clues to Look for:
Questions to Ask If It's Romantic Infatuation If It's Real Love
  The nature of the attraction  
1. What is my main interest? The person's physical appearance; body! The total personality; the whole person; 
    What attracts me most? things that register with my 5 senses. who is in the body; character qualities.
2. How many things attract me? Few – though some may be strong. Many or most; growing respect for other.
  The course of the romance  
3. How did the romance start? Fast (hours or days). Slowly (months or years).
4. How consistent is my level  Interest varies, comes and goes, many   Evens out; gets to be dependable and
    of interest? peaks and valleys; not consistent consistent; can predict it.
  or predictable.  
5. What effect does the romance  Disorganizing, destructive; Organizing, constructive; I'm a 
    have on my personality? I'm acting strangely; I'm not "myself". better person.
6. How does the relationship end? Quickly, unless there's been mutually  Slowly, if at all; the relationship takes
  satisfying sex, which can prolong, but a long time to end; we'll never be quite 
  not save, the relationship. the same.
  Two views of you two  
7. How do we view each  There's only one person in the world –  I'm realistic about my boy/girlfriend's
    other? my partner; my partner can do no  strengths and weaknesses. I can admit 
  wrong; I see my partner as faultless, my his/her faults, but I keep loving 
  idealizing him/her. anyway. Love is a decision not a feeling.
8. How do others view our  Few, or none approves of the relationship. Most or all approve. We get along well
    relationship? What's the attitude   with each other's friends and parents.
    of friends and parents?    
  Dealing with double trouble  
9. What does distance (long Withers away; dies; cannot stand Survives; may even grow stronger.
    separation) do to the  this added stress.  
10. How do quarrels affect the They get more frequent, severe, & trivial, They grow less frequent, less severe, and  
     romance? and eventually kill the relationship. deal more with major issues, which we
    discuss more than argue.
  The inner world of love  
11. How do I feel about and Much use of I/me/my;  he/him/his; Speak of we/us/our; feel and think
     refer to our relationship? she/her/hers; little feeling of oneness. as a unit, a pair; togetherness.
12. What's my ego response  Mainly selfish, restrictive, conditional; Mainly unselfish, releasing; concerned 
      to the other? "What does this do for me?" equally for the other.
13. What's my overall attitude Attitude of taking; exploiting and using Attitude of giving, sharing; wanting to
     toward the other? the other to serve own needs/wants. serve the other's needs and wants.
14. What is the effect More frequent, more severe. Less frequent, less severe.
      of jealousy?    
  ___________________________ _________________________
TOTAL PATTERN OF THE CLUES Kid stuff; romantic infatuation The real thing; true love


                                      Kid stuff; romantic infatuation         The real thing; true love


Summary clue: In real love, you love and care for the person so much that you want them to be happy and you want the best for that person – you want them to become the best person they can be —
 ** morally [live by a strong code of conduct],
 ** socially,
 ** physically [be as healthy as they can be],
 ** intellectually, and
 ** spiritually [their innermost being, who they really are].

You want the best for that person so much, even if you know you cannot be that person’s lifelong “soul mate”; you realize that you must both part in order to allow the other person – and yourself – to become who you are both meant to become.

You probably have a general impression of whether you’re really in love. But to make such a great decision, you need a more accurate assessment.

– you put aside your wants and desires for the good of the loved one.

This caring does not involve sexual involvement.


Examine each clue with studied care.  Give it a good deal of thought.

Take all the time you need.

Be brutally honest with yourself. 

You want to find out not only whether a clue indicates you’re in love, but also the degree to which you are in love.

You want to detect shades of difference in each of your ratings. To do that simply rate each clue on a scale of 0 to 10.  Zero stands for total infatuation; ten for pure love.

0        1        2        3        4        5        6         7        8        9        10

Infatuation                           About even                           Love


Give each clue careful thought to see how it applies in your case. Think of as many aspects of the clue as you can, and the ways they affect you and your partner.  Then choose the number on the scale which, by your soundest judgment, seems the most accurate description of your situation.  Be very, very honest with yourself.

Take, for example, Clue 8: Do friends and parents approve? Suppose that you and your partner each have 3 close friends, and your parents are all living. If all but two of these 10 friends/parents approve, your score would be 8. If only your mother and 2 of your sweetheart’s friends approve, you score 3. If none approves, you get the 0!Unless you’re rating a past romance, only 13 of the clues will apply. You can’t tell how it will end if it hasn’t ended yet, so Clue 6 cannot be rated.

Thus, a perfect love score for a current romance is 130 points – ten points each for 13 clues.

When you have rated your romance on all of the clues, add up all the numbers to get your total score.

What Your Scores Mean

The higher your score is, of course, the more likely it may be real love. If you score 90 or above, that suggests a fairly strong love relationship. You can be encouraged. Your love may well be on the way to supporting a successful marriage.

There are 2 exceptions:

(1) you may still be too young to marry; or

(2) you have not yet passed the test of time – a minimum of 2 full years of knowing each other well, without being involved in a sexual relationship.

And, of course, you had to be perfectly honest with all the clues…

In any case, you will still want to “make haste slowly” and take whatever precautions you feel might be needed, such as dating other people, and avoiding each other for days on end to see if "absence makes the heart grow fonder".

Scores between 50 and 90 points would indicate a toss-up between love and pseudo-love (infatuation). Your relationship shows some promise. Take more time to see which direction it goes.  It may in time grow into love. Retest it from time to time.

If your score is less than 50, you are infatuated. Love is a very long way off. Make no promises. Keep your distance.

Be sure that reason rules emotion – and don’t let yourself get heavily involved (sex).

Love may grow in time, but sex will NOT help that to happen; actually, the opposite is true.

A strong relationship foundation is needed – be friends first, and see if the relationship grows stronger.

You can, from time to time, rate your romance again to see if you detect any positive change. If no real signs show up, it may be best to end the relationship.

[It’s always best to date many people, even to stay with group dating through the teenage years in order to have many friends and to avoid situations of intensity. Then, you don’t have to worry about breaking up with anyone. Everyone enjoys being around each other, and there is just fun, no stress.]


Meaning of Scores
                                Likely                           Action              

                                     Meaning                     Suggested


0-50                        Infatuation         No promises or plans;                                                                            don’t commit yourself yet

50-90                        Toss-up            Some hope;                            

                                                        give it more time


                  Real love            Ponder marriage – with due care

So Now You Know

Your score should give you a general idea of the nature of your romance.
The next question is: What should we do about it?

Based on what you’ve learned, what kind of future does your romance probably have? It may help if we contrast the expected life spans of infatuation and love on a graph.


  General Life Spans of Infatuation and Love Compared



The chart above does not reflect the fine details of a particular romance. Its purpose is to provide a general picture of typical romances.

As we have seen, infatuation starts fast. Then the level of interest in the romance comes and goes, with lots of peaks and valleys. If the couple steers clear of heavy sex, infatuation does not last long. It grinds to a rather abrupt halt, unless real love emerges in the meantime.

If the couple allows a sex life to develop and both find it satisfying, interest in sex may keep the romance going for many months – even up to four or five years. But it will end in due time.

Meanwhile, the couple’s interest will continue to blow hot and cold. The grave danger is that the couple involved in sex likely won’t be able to tell whether it’s real love or just interest in sex that is holding them together – unless they arrange to be apart for a few months to test it out without the sex.

Love starts more slowly and grows as time goes by. The rough spots in the couple’s early relationship slowly even out. Their interest keeps growing to a high level that they can maintain for years – possibly a lifetime. They come to count on their (non-sexual) relationship being stable, secure, comforting, and satisfying.

The Romance Risk

It should now be quite clear why infatuation is such a dangerous myth.

If you marry on the strength of it, you take a terrible risk. Even if you add sex thrills to the infatuation equation, there is bound to be trouble ahead. Sex just prolongs the agony a little longer.

Granted, some couples may luck out. By chance their personalities may in the long run grow to be compatible. They may have the basic elements that can later build into real love.

But why gamble?
What if it turns out that they do not have the potential for love between them? Their marriage may well be doomed from the start. Based as it is on infatuation alone, it will likely falter, fade, and finally fail.

Infatuation, the state most people call “love”, is really pseudo-love, a cheap substitute for the Real Thing.

It lures its innocent victims to the altar, then dashes their marital hopes in the mud.

[excerpts from Sex, Love, or Infatuation: How Can I really Know? (ISBN 0-8066-2460-4) by Dr. Ray E. Short; ©1990 Augsburg Fortress, 426 S. Fifth St. Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440.  Dr. Short has also written Sex, Dating, and Love]