Love, Sex, & Relationships – How Do You Know if It’s Real Love?

Every weekday morning on my drive to work, I used to listen to a man who spoke so much truth, it was almost jarring.  Although he has grandkids, a world and lifetime of experience, Chip Ingram’s voice still sounds like a man in his 30’s, you can actually hear the compassion and genuine love behind his words.

He would speak on many topics, some a little controversial.  He spoke a lot on personal and spiritual growth, I learned things and felt so convicted to change that, in the year I listened to him each morning, I grew a lot spiritually.  He was cunningly smart, he would use science to reveal the truth about things biblically sound, explain scientific studies, go into detail on who were the people who actually funded or conducted those studies, reveal the truths behind the lies that my generation (GenY) and younger were being taught everyday concerning sex and relationships.

I had already, by happenstance, learned his teachings on sex and Christianity coincidentally the few months before my husband and I got married.  During my engagement, I was on a break at a department store I worked at, which was placed inside an outdoor strip mall, and I walked down to the end where a Christian bookstore happened to be.  I walked in and his book Love, Sex, & Relationships was the first one I picked up.  I sat on their couch and started reading… I still remember how shocking some of his real life stories were – so shocking that I held them in my mind long after I read them.  By the time I started listening to him on the radio, though, 6 years later, I had no real use for that information.  It was still interesting, but I was in a stable yet passionate, romantic marriage.  And we knew from watching other couples around us that we were doing something very right.

I preferred listening to his personal growth sermons, things that would actually challenge me, make me wiser, better than I was, and I did gain some insights from hearing his presentation, however, what really sparked my ultimate interest to keep tuning in, was that everyday I’d listen, I would think, “Boy, I wish So-In-So knew that!”  or “Wow!  I need to tell So-In-So this fact!”  One of the things about getting married so young is that you have quite a few friends who are still single, and looking for a relationship or in relationships you wish they wouldn’t be – for their growth and development.  My husband and I lost track of how many couples we knew, around our age too, that had already gotten divorced during our marriage in only 6 years.  A couple of people we knew didn’t even make it to their first year anniversary – and they were committed Christians!

So while I was driving, listening and taking in his valuable points for people in the dating market, I started listening with a real purpose – to be able to impart some of his knowledge to the people I knew.  A couple years later, now I have friends in their late 20’s that still ask me this relationship-sex stuff, and even younger girls that I actively get the privilege of mentoring.  Teen girls, especially, want to know and understand the pitfalls of sex, and how to create or spot a good relationship that will last the test of time; the sad fact is that most of their parents don’t have it, and they are actively seeking to find a good model that they can hold in their minds for themselves to achieve later in life.

Here are Chip Ingram’s 12 Tests of whether or not you can tell if it is Love or Infatuation Sermon notes (no I wasn’t writing in my car… these are available online here):

 Is it “Love” or “Infatuation?”

Test #1 – TIME
 Love grows, and all growth requires time.
 Infatuation may come suddenly.

We can fall into lust or infatuation, but love is when it grows into something more.  Love grows from knowing that person’s character traits, out of caring for that person, whereas infatuation doesn’t care who they really are – it can grow into a strong, intense “crush” feeling or high, but if it’s not willing to grow into love, it’s ultimately useless beyond 9 – 18 months.
 Love grows out of an appraisal of all the known characteristics of the other
 Infatuation may arise from an acquaintance with only a few or only one of these

Infatuation is just basic chemistry that you may feel with another person, regardless of if they’re a criminal or an upstanding citizen, which is why you have to be careful to go slow in relationships, to find out who the other person really is.  Chip says that often this initial chemistry that comes from a glance, a smile, or an opening line the guy may come at you with, can give you an overall impression of that person that is really far from their real-life character.  I remember when I was 16… I caught the interest of a senior at my high school… who was turning 20 that year (yea, my parents almost died).  He had been homeschooled by his mom in Lousianna, and when placed into our school the year or two before, found that he was actually behind for his age.  He didn’t tell me any of this of course, I had to find out secondhand from his friends, and then he told me the truth.  But he was smoother than the ice at an ice rink with his manner and come-ons, and when I slipped, I fell pretty hard on the ice.  I eventually gave him my phone number, who cared if he smoked, wore a black leather jacket, was friends with the rowdiest seniors at our school who played in a rock band.  All those things just increased my infatuation.  

Even though my parents refused to let me date him, and our relationship never even crossed into the physical realm, the infatuation period was still just as intense.  It started to drop immediately, however, due to the lack of physical engagement (which is why it’s so important to prolong that for girls, so that you can see if the relationship is worth mixing those emotions into it), once I got a grip on who he really was – his real character traits, it was a lot easier to end the fling and try to kill the infatuation.  He had no goals for himself, or any intention on going to college after he graduated, in fact, he was barely even managing to graduate.  His ultimate plan was to work at Walmart after high school, and he did.  

Test #3 – FOCUS
 Love is other-person-centered. It is outgoing. It results in sharing.
 Infatuation is self-centered.

Part of the infatuation phase is living in some kind of fantasy land, and you are ultimately at the center of it becuase it is your own fantasy that is keeping it going.  I’m not saying that real love can’t grow from an infatuation, in fact, that’s basically how my husband and I fell in love & then grew into it, but first and foremost, an infatuation is self-centered.  

 Genuine love is centered on one person only.  Even if it is a distance-tested relationship, genuine love means you aren’t tempted to cheat or become infatuated with a coworker, friend, or random stranger you meet at a coffee shop that is friendly and you have chemistry with.  
 An infatuated individual may be “in love” with two or more persons

This is a good one!  If you find yourself being drawn or infatuated with multiple people at the same time, you can know that you aren’t really “in love” with any of them, including the person you are in a relationship with.  When you are finally ready for love, and are really in love, you don’t let yourself become infatuated with another person, instead you work on growing your love inside the relationship you already have. 

Infatuation can be devastating for married couples who have let their love slowly fade, or who have built up hurt and blocked emotions so that they are actually at a weak point in their marriage.  Emotional affairs to physical affairs, you can bet they all start out as a simple, innocent-seeming feeling of chemistry that creates a spark that is then nurtured into a full-blown infatuation.  Real love that is couple-focused and keeps the work going throughout the years stays true emotionally, as well as physically.

Test #5 – SECURITY
 An individual in love tends to have a sense of security and a feeling of trust after
considering everything involved in his relationship with the other person.
 An infatuated individual tends to have a blind sense of security based upon
wishful thinking rather than upon careful consideration, or he may have a sense
of insecurity that is sometimes expressed as jealousy.

Infatuation really is like building a fantasy life inside your head about another person, you don’t know them quite well enough yet, so you fill in the blanks yourself based on your positive experiences with them so far, and you unknowingly create some kind of faultless person you can dangerously become entwined with.  That’s why affairs are said to be so strangely addicting, the partners only see each other’s good (or perfect) sides, never experiencing their full personality, that is, until they try to start a real relationship (maybe the other spouse found out and divorces the straying spouse).  Most relationships that started from an affair, do not last because it was founded on a fantasy. When the fantasy is over and they see that the perfect partner really has some ugly sides to their personality, the addiction fades away and they are left with each other – two people with major character issues to work on.

Test #6 – WORK
 An individual in love works for the other person or for their mutual benefit. He
may study to make the other person proud of him. His ambition is spurred and
he plans and saves for the future. He may daydream, but his dreams are
reasonably attainable.
 An infatuated person may lose his ambition, his appetite, his interest in everyday
affairs. He thinks of his own misery. He often daydreams, but his dreams are
sometimes not limited to the attainable and are given free rein. At times the
dreams become substitutes for reality and the individual lives in his world of

Couples who are in love, work together for the other person.  They care about meeting each other’s needs and it often comes effortlessly.  Their ambitions are spurred, like Chip says, because they are seeking to achieve things in life, together.  There are many times when my husband and I are out without our kids and we are free to relax, when we start day-dreaming about the future we’re building with each other.  Infatuated couples sometimes daydream, but their daydreams are often far-fetched goals that may be realistically unreachable for them, thus setting themselves up for failure – but that kind of thinking makes for a good fantasy life!

 A couple in love faces problems frankly and attempts to solve them. If there are
barriers to their getting married, these barriers are approached intelligently and
removed. Whatever barriers that cannot be removed may be circumvented, but
with the knowledge that what is done is deliberate circumvention.
 In infatuation, problems tend to be disregarded or glossed over.

Real love between a couple means they don’t go into marriage blindly, if there are any problems or issues going in, they deliberately sort them out before tying the knot.  Infatuated couples look past the person’s character flaws, or they get married so fast they never even glanced at what was glaringly obvious to everyone else.  Chip’s example is perfect here, as a pastor, he gets approached by couples like this trying to get him to marry them, all the time:

“We’re in love…  We met yesterday (or last week, or two weeks ago…) and God showed us we’re meant to be together, could you do the marriage?”

“When?” I ask, trying to work toward some sense of realtiy in the conversation.

“Tomorrow, this week – as soon as possible.”

“Why then?  How exactly did this come about?” I ask.

“Well,” she sighs, “I dropped my purse and he picked it up and our eyes met.  Then I found out that his last name started with an S, and I prayed for someone who last name starts with S, so there – we know it’s from God.”

Before I an express my amazement, she babbles on, “What’s so incredible si taht even though he’s 38 years older than me and I’m not sure if he’s a Christian, God has made it so clear that he’s the one.  We don’t have a common vision, but we’ll figure that out later.  I don’t know anything about his family other than he’s been married seventeen times.  Ours would be a blended family because I have eleven children and he has seven, but we love each other.  It’ll work out.”

I’m obviously exaggerating, but it comes out almost like that.  What is it?  It’s infatuation mixed with classic denial – with an added pinch of insanity.

Test #8 – DISTANCE
 Love tends to be constant.
 Infatuation often varies with the distance between the couple.

“Love knows the importance of distance.  Infatuation imagines love to be intense closeness, 24/7, all the time.”  If a couple feels the need to be attached or with each other all day long, it is a sign of unhealthy codependency.  Genuine love allows for two lifes of the two people, and doesn’t try to mesh them into one stagnant, fake life together.  Chip suggested trying to have a short-term mission trip planned where you are away from your relationship partner, if you find that the distance awakens you to infatuations with other people you meet on the trip, you are not in genuine love.  If, however, the time spent apart actually makes you grow and become a better person, all the while wanting to be better for your partner, you can bet you are growing in real love.

 Physical attraction is a relatively smaller part of their total relationship when a
couple is in love. When a couple is in love, any physical contact they have tends
to have meaning as well as be a pleasurable experience in and of itself. It tends
to express what they feel toward each other.
 In infatuation, physical contact tends to be an end in itself. It represents only
pleasurable experience devoid of meaning.

Part of the reason why introducing sex into a relationship before marriage is so detrimental is because it can dramatically feed the infatuation with strong emotional bonds (from sex) for usually the girl, while helping them both to overlook any character flaws in the other person.  Going slow and waiting for sex until marriage ensures that both parties are going in with eyes open and minds relatively unclouded.  Another thing I’ve noticed personally in watching relationships has been that as soon as sex is introduced (premaritally obviously), the growth tends to come to a slow drip, and soon, the relationship is only about, or only held together, by the sex.

Test #10 – AFFECTION
 In love, an expression of affection tends to come relatively late in the couple’s
 In infatuation, it may come earlier, sometimes from the very beginning.

Again, like I mentioned in explaining his last point, if sex is introduced into the relationship right away, it causes the relationship to have very little ambition to grow beyond it into real love.  Love goes slow, takes its time, even if it starts with infatuated feelings, it seeks out to know whether they are worth investing in or not by getting to know who the person really is.

Test #11 – STABILITY
 Love tends to endure.
 Infatuation may change suddenly, unpredictably.

Part of the reason my husband and I were so shocked to see friends we knew divorcing after 1 or 2 to 3 years was their ability to be SO incredibly, undenaibly in love during their engagement or early phase of their relationship, and then so utterly not in love with each other while they were ending their marriages!  It was like watching insane people!  We couldn’t believe how fast their feelings for each other could flip like that.  Now I get it, they were in the infatuation phase, and they never learned how to grow into the love phase – or they were unable to once they found out who the other person really was.  Remember, the infatuation phase can last for 9 to 18 months.  So if a couple falls in love, gets married fast, it makes sense they may find themselves divorcing within the first year or by the time they reach their second or third.

 A couple in love is not indifferent to the effects of postponement of their wedding
and do not prolong the period of postponement unless they find it wiser to wait a
reasonable time; they do not feel an almost irresistible drive toward haste.
 Infatuated couples tend to feel an urge toward getting married. Postponement is
intolerable to them and they interpret it as deprivation rather than preparation.

A good test for this is whether or not a couple is able to even wait long enough to try to get through some basic pre-marital counseling sessions.  If they aren’t interested in those at all, they are probably not interested in finding out if the marriage will really work based on reality and what they both realistically are going to want and need from each other while in the marriage.

50 thoughts on “Love, Sex, & Relationships – How Do You Know if It’s Real Love?

  1. Interesting, Dragonflygirl! (David Foster’s article was interesting as well)

    In my case, we had elements of both. It was extremely intense when we started dating…he’d say it was love at first sight (or lust anyway). For me, I had to get to know his character a little before falling. Then it was hot and heavy. We married right away, couldn’t stand to be apart, even for a short time, and so forth. We kind of grew up together, and I’m not sure I could separate the two (longstanding, “real love” versus infatuation).

    I’m still pretty infatuated with him (and him with me, I think) but we had to grow up. If we didn’t, neither of us would have been able to go to school or work, or raise our children. We’re both kind of obsessive-compulsive people, but with a good value system…so it has worked well. 😉

  2. I agree… it is hard to distinguish between the two at times, I’m so glad that you and your husband still feel infatuated with each other after being married for years! Ours definitely started out as infatuation – and I guess that’s where the fantasy part comes in… you don’t really know them well enough, so in a way you are able to be infatuated with what you esteem is a perfect person. To me, love is when you see all of them, their faults really, and still love them.

    And I totally hear you on that having to grow up together thing… yep, us too! Especially when our first came along… definitely had to grow up very fast. But I love how we’ve grown up together, it makes it so interesting to me, and I’m so grateful I’ve had someone wiser, older, and more mature to grow up with, to lean on, to challenge me to be better! He’s all of that and more to me.

  3. I think the preacher defines love down — down to a script of preacher-approved behaviors that predict some relationship and community stability. Which is fine, they’re all irrefutable positives, I suppose, as far as they go. They’ll produce couples who are good citizens and joiners and doers in their towns and churches. If a man wanted to structure his life according to this list of binary opposites, no doubt his domineering wife would appreciate it (when she wasn’t identifying his failings and telling him that they just have mismatched libidos). And his pastor would applaud his Churchian obedience.

    But let’s set that aside for a moment. Isn’t it quite bizarre to suggest that “love” only exists between such mild-mannered adults, that overwhelmingly urgent passion and desire describe mere infatuation, and that true love is negotiated according to this checklist of preacher-talk? Human history suggests that love is simultaneously a progressive and highly destabilizing, even destructive force. Human history also suggests that love often produces the antithesis of the bourgeois virtues Ingram celebrates.

    So I’m highly skeptical of such checklists, as they are typically used by one partner to qualify or school the other partner.

    Worst of all, the list suggests a feminist equalism, in that it suggests that men and women respond to each other, and life, identically. If one believes that, then one ignores differences in such things as hypergamy, sexual interests and appetites, attitudes toward risk and security, personal entitlement, attitudes toward work, attitudes toward masculinity and femininity, etc.

  4. Interesting read. I’m reposting some thoughts about what to look for in a man that may tie in:

    1. How concerned is he about you gaining weight?
    A man who asks a lot of questions about how you keep your figure is basically telling you he doesn’t trust you. What I have found is that the men who are most concerned about this are ones who have had a weight issue in their own past. He should enjoy seeing you eat and prefer you sharing dessert with him to looking like a twig.

    2. Does he try to solve your problems?/ Can you cry in front of him?
    A man who really cares about you will pick up on even the slightest troubles you mention and attempt to help you with them. He’ll be giving you information he thinks will help, getting you talk to talk through your feelings when you’re upset, and following up on how things are getting resolved.

    3. Did he blush when he first saw you?
    This is important for two reasons. One, it means he is naturally attracted to you. Two, it means he is capable of blushing, a sign of health both physical and emotional.

    4. Does he want to marry you before becoming sexually intimate?
    If not, he is not willing to put your best interests before his. If so, he has shown he respects you and is, consequently, a man worthy of your respect.

    5. Is he screening you for a position, or is he applying for a job?
    Beware the man who has you constantly scrambling to prove yourself to him. You’ll be so caught up in showing you are what he wants, you may forget to think if he is even what *you* want! (Hint= he isn’t) A man who is more concerned with showing you why *he* is right for you is the one who is serious about the job of being your husband.

  5. 1. How concerned is he about you gaining weight?
    A man who asks a lot of questions about how you keep your figure is basically telling you he doesn’t trust you.

    Well, I’ve seen women do that to men – marry them and then gain a bunch of weight afterwards. I can think of 2 women around my age (one older and one younger) who did this very recently to their unsuspecting husbands. My brother saw a picture of the older one and her husband and he was like, “Oh Fuck no! That is so awful!” It was that dramatic of a change in weight/attractiveness. Her husband though? he still looks like a good-looking, very masculine hunk. I feel sorry for both of those women’s husbands, they were essentially tricked. So you saying that a man concerned about weight gain doesn’t trust her, then it’s probably because he’s seen women do this.

  6. 5. Is he screening you for a position, or is he applying for a job?
    Beware the man who has you constantly scrambling to prove yourself to him. You’ll be so caught up in showing you are what he wants, you may forget to think if he is even what *you* want! (Hint= he isn’t) A man who is more concerned with showing you why *he* is right for you is the one who is serious about the job of being your husband.

    See, I think it’s crucial for men to screen effectively! It’s not just because I have two boys now, I thought this way before ever having children. Women are great at messing up relationships/marriages for themselves (not to mention their husbands, and the children), in a myriad of ways. Men are actually pretty easy to please, most are not aware enough to even know they should have their own checklist or screening process. Most just simply want a woman who loves them, haves sex with them regularly and passionately, and is a good mother to their children (and all that it applies – cooking for them, cleaning well, etc.). That’s basically what men want. Women are tricky, and they will marry men they aren’t really attracted to – I’ve seen it happen a lot even in my own age group with the people I know in real life. It’s horrible! And it’s not at all fair to the men who marry these women, and the women are never really fulfilled either by picking some kind of beta man that isn’t as attractive as she really desired.

    So my short answer? Men NEED to screen for the position of filling their “wife.” If they don’t, they’re likely to end up with a woman that wants it all about her, or who doesn’t mind changing the rules once she’s married.

  7. But let’s set that aside for a moment. Isn’t it quite bizarre to suggest that “love” only exists between such mild-mannered adults, that overwhelmingly urgent passion and desire describe mere infatuation, and that true love is negotiated according to this checklist of preacher-talk?

    Thank you for your comment BV. I think what he was meaning was not that love can’t be without the urgent passionate feelings of desire, just that it isn’t always like that every minute of the day. That would be infatuation, which although it feels good, isn’t reality of day to day living. Real love comes through time through growing together… but it doesn’t mean complacent desire at all! I feel like I understand it because I regularly feel those intense feelings of love and desire for my husband – very urgent and overwhelming, but I’m also not stuck in some fantasy land of rainbows and lucky charms. We both live lives apart from each other during the day.

  8. So I’m highly skeptical of such checklists, as they are typically used by one partner to qualify or school the other partner.

    Worst of all, the list suggests a feminist equalism, in that it suggests that men and women respond to each other, and life, identically. If one believes that, then one ignores differences in such things as hypergamy, sexual interests and appetites, attitudes toward risk and security, personal entitlement, attitudes toward work, attitudes toward masculinity and femininity, etc.

    I agree on that it suggests a feminist equalism between the sexes… Chip Ingram doesn’t know (at least, I’m pretty sure he’s never heard of) female hypergamy. And he doesn’t seem to be taking into account the differences like you stated. That is true.

  9. Screening is important. For both sides. So, if the man has the reins on the whole process and the woman isn’t doing due diligence, then she is not really making a selection. It’s an unhealthy dynamic.

  10. It’s true of most churchmen, who largely run feminized churches. So their pitch is structured to appeal to the customers.

  11. Yup.

    1. I have a weight issue in my past. We’re divorced. She’s since gained at least 50.

    2. Any man of value will drop what he’s doing when someone else is unable to articulate what’s on her mind, because women shouldn’t be expected to understand themselves or their lives, and their men should walk them through their difficulties, patiently explaining and leading them to insight. Because adulthood. Also, passive-aggressive crying.

    3. Men who don’t blush like a girl are not Good Men. Obviously Good Men express desire like little girls.

    4. Women are Victorian angels incapable of sexual agency. Any man who doesn’t respect this thinks that women are adults who are capable of managing their own sexual behavior. And he probably expects that, once married, the sex will continue and expand. If he knows what’s good for him he will assign his privates to his woman to turn off (their appropriate state) and on (don’t get any ideas).

    5. Women should ‘just be themselves.’ The prior four bullet points, that prescribe minimum performance standards for men, are no justification for men attempting to screen women for longterm relationship success. Because equality hahahahaha losers gon’ lose worship the pussy.

  12. I think there is love that is wild at heart, and limiting it to a PTA/Rotarian definition of social success is pretty appalling. Helen of Troy, Romeo and Juliet, Madame Bovary, Lady Brett, Scott and Zelda, Liz Taylor/Burton: these were not infatuations. Sometimes windows and dishes are going to be, and need to be, broken.

  13. Well, he’s very sympathetic with you. But understand that it’s talk like that which drives men away from the Church. Christian churches are run for the women congregants.

  14. I read something not too long ago I think, about couples who fight passionately being actually more able to make it longterm than the couples who reported that they never, or rarely ever, fought. Apparently, the ones who don’t argue or fight out their issues aren’t really passionately in love, and let resentments build up over time, from what I remember. The couple that does fight and is able to get through things together ,actually seems to be a healthier model longterm, because instead of being complacent about things, they work through issues. Indifference to problems is like the mild-mannered “love” that lacks passion. But then too much “passion” can really be histrionics with women, they create drama and then feed off of it.

  15. Lol BV. 😀
    I was just pondering that I don’t think I’ve ever seen my husband blush…ever.
    Is that wrong?
    I’m not even sure that I have blushed in front of him. It’s not something I’ve really thought about.
    When we first got together, he was a little concerned about my eating habits. I eat like a field hand. He’d seen that go wrong before with the ex. But after a few months/years he decided I was obviously not going to chub out. Now my eating habits are kind of endearing to him. I’m sure that would change if my as$ got wide though.

  16. I guess she was infatuated. Woman kills a couple of guys and feeds them to her pigs (must of been a Deadwood (tv show) fan). These are actual quotes. Perhaps we have reached peak TV.

    “Monica never took responsibility for their deaths throughout 18 hours of videotaped interviews and her six-day jury trial, and told investigators she feared her pigs would be killed if she reported the (men’s) deaths.

    “You shot two people and fed them to your pigs,” Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack told a quiet Monica, who was prone to outbursts during her trial. “I don’t know how else I can put it. You valued pigs more than you value people.”

    …”I couldn’t bring myself to call you simply to say, ‘Hey, your father has finally showed up. Come get him out of my pig pen,'” Monica said while seated in court. “I couldn’t do it.”

    Her lawyer later explained:

    “She just doesn’t have a good filter,” Herbert said outside of court. …She took it well, I think she may be looking forward to moving on with her life.”

    We shouldn’t judge, of course, and allow the gentlewoman to “move on with her life.”

  17. Blushing is a shame function. If a man is blushing while looking at a woman, he’s ashamed of what he’s thinking. This is not a healthy thing, in the ways and meaningful activities of men and women.

  18. I used to recruit women, in part, by saying “I don’t trust women who don’t eat.” Appetites are appetites, and one predicts another.

    But I’ve never met a woman who ate well (i.e., ate good, not manufactured food), and kept her wine consumption under control, who packed it on.

  19. The wine thing is a deal breaker for my husband. He hates alcohol… probably because a lot of people in his family drank. I rarely ever have a glass of wine… very rare. And we never buy alcohol really, usually it’s gifted to us by friends. My family is full of alcoholics, so even though I may be more drawn to it, I think have a little bit of a fear of what I know it can do. Plus, I really hate that cliche about women who have to have a “buzz” before getting sexually aroused by their husbands. Really distasteful in my opinion.

  20. Here’s his website. Ironically, he soft-peddles his own message overmuch: he must have female readers!

    In his book he references scholarly work, so the bibliography is a good jumping off point.

  21. My husband’s made me blush! But not in a shamed way I think… in a pleasant way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him blush though. It’d be more of an embarrassed feeling I think, in an unhealthy way or self-conscious way if he blushed.

  22. Yeah, I have no interest in histrionics. Probably to an unhealthy degree, I seek emotional constancy.

    It’s just shit-testing anyway, and it gets old — besides which, instead of her shit-testing mindlessly, I think it’s reasonable for a man to tell his woman, “Make up your mind already. This is what I am.” The logical fallacy here is the a priori failure to understand shit-testing … is not logical.

    There is a common, Manosphere-Approved(tm) response to shit-testing: exaggerate and amplify. There is a certain someone in my life whose response to kindness is to regularly pick a fight for no reason. The next time that happens I’m going to just put a dog collar and leash on her. I’ll let you know if I survive the conclusion of that scene. (The last time I visited her I had to go to the hospital.) Seriously, I already bought them: the collar has rhinestones.

  23. You’re lucky. Wine (or alcohol) is so ubiquitous to the single and social life that it freaks people out if a man abstains.

    When I was married and my ex- was trying to come up with reasons to justify her divorcing me, she lit upon “He drinks too much!” The counselor sagely agreed. A month later she complained to the marriage counselor, “He just quit! He just quit like that!!! Like it wasn’t anything at all to quit!!!!!” She was really pissed, it would have been so easy to say ” …. and on top of it all, he was an alcoholic.”

    “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

    –noted philosopher, Roseanne Roseannadanna

  24. I took his test for rating your church’s compatibility for men and ours scored very high! My husband picked it when we were engaged… we had shopped around (I was a churchaholic and went to several churches sporadically around our city… I even went to a really rowdy Holy Spirit one and tried to drag him there lol). But he picked the one we go to, and I’m so glad and have told him that a lot since then. He loves our church, and never wants to miss going – but it is a little unique, we’ve even had sermons about the crisis that men are having and boys (the war on boys). It is Texas….

  25. Is this how you seek emotional constancy? You seek drama and you may as well admit it. If you didn’t you wouldn’t even be going to see that woman who put you in the hospital. You would have thanked me for saying weeks ago that I was glad to hear you were all right. Men want empathy, my foot. They want to win a fight.

  26. “Is this how you seek emotional constancy?”
    I think there’s something along the lines of the hot versus crazy matrix that is the passion versus emotional constancy matrix. At the one end, all hell breaks loose and life is unlivable. At the other end, every friday is fish night and the evening constitutional while watching Jeopardy. There’s a lot to be said for passion.
    But I don’t recall reading the “kindness sent me to the hospital” anecdote…that a new one? Must be a good story there, BV! Be careful….

    “I love you”

    Love back at you, Dragonfly girl! 🙂

  27. My comments are about the definitions in the OP, not about myself. I haven’t provided my definition of ‘love’.

  28. There’s Love, and there’s love. I will focus on Love. Lower-case love is just party-time, which is how we all organize our social realities.


    First Principle: a mortal commitment. (Permanent act of will, the relationship and its progeny being more important than life.)

    Second Principle: a capacity to understand that the family, or the family before God if one chooses to think that way, transcends any claim of ego, emotion, or sensation. IOW, the act of commitment through love is a humbling act of commitment to an abstraction larger than any claim of any individual. The abstraction is *the point*, not its derivative (ego, emotion, sensation) effects. This yields family, community, personal health, a legacy, and joy. This provides courage and self-abnegating confidence. This makes our brief biological appearance on this rock meaningful, not just to ourselves (for this is its least significant quality), but to others who may be otherwise lost, vulnerable and alone.


    Observable effects of the above:

    1. Respect and esteem for one’s mate. This includes a deferring trust for each individuals’ differences and privacy.

    2. Kindness in all forms.

    3. Animal spirits: lots of you know what.

    These three qualities (occasionally favored with … brains) constructed western civilization. All that is now in collapse. Ingram hastens the collapse. He wants men to behave like 16 year-old boys, and suggests that Jesus is a pussy who was always nice and foreswearing and really just wanted men to be boys trying to wheedle an oatmeal raison cookie out of their pedestalized mommas. KM wants men to sit and bark and chase tennis balls on command.


    Query: seen much of this lately?

    This ethic doesn’t exist today, as marriage and commitment are, today, in secular and Christian circles, just another lifestyle choice. The government is in total agreement. Just as harpies insist, like a US Senator insists, that “*it* is not a person until *it* leaves the hospital.” (Barbara Boxer.) Abstractions don’t exist, ergo situational convenience controls love. Lower-case love, today, is just a statement of convenience used as currency to purchase transitory comfort. A few people, like the men in Liz and Dragon’s lives, get lucky. Luck is neither a strategy nor a philosophy. It’s simply an accident.

    And I mean that’s as true in a Southern Baptist Church as a Socialist Workers Party yell-session. So it would appear that we’ve exiled capital L Love, in favor of the celebration of feminine capriciousness that Ingram and KMinter promote. Rock on, motherfuckers. You may or may not be defended when the towers of caprice and personal impulse come tumbling down. That moment is nigh. It’s easier to accept this unpleasant thought when you, and others you know, have spent a few moments in a shithole watching your own mortal frame collapse.

    I am a Unitarian who reads the Bible. Such a quaint 19th century idea. That makes me a Crazy Right-Winger, not a man worth attending. YMMV. But in the end, I will only defend to the death those who defend me. The only humans I know who will do that are male. This is enough for today.

  29. I’m going to watch a movie with my husband now. He was once the most vocal misogynist on the internet. Yesterday, I was too sick to take my daughter to church, so he took her. But, hey, what do I know about Love 😉

  30. The definition of love is willing the good of another, regardless of what you might receive in return. All else is commentary.

    Love is sacrifice. Love is selfless. (“Love is patient, love is kind…” 1 Cor 13) We dance around that scary fact, we rationalize our selfishness, we place feeling above truth. Romanticism was born in the 19th century against the Enlightenment’s clockwork rationality, and in the name of recovering the (especially youthful) spirit in our breast beyond mechanistic materialism, it has forcibly overtaken our fullest understanding of caritas or agape.

    Love is Blindness / I don’t wanna see:

    (From the good Catholic boy, Jack White)

    It’s almost a cliche to remark that Greek has many words for love, each with its own special connotation:

    Storge — Affection
    Philia — Friendship
    Eros — Longing
    Agape — Unconditional Giving

    From C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves. The most accessible book on the subject ever written in English, anyway.


  31. But I note that Lewis would have (abjectly) failed Ingram’s catechism. I’m unprepared to say that that is Lewis’ problem. It’s all on Ingram.

  32. Isn’t it quite bizarre to suggest that “love” only exists between such mild-mannered adults, that overwhelmingly urgent passion and desire describe mere infatuation, and that true love is negotiated according to this checklist of preacher-talk?

    You are conflating agape with eros or longing.

    “Greater love [agape] hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:17)

    Deriding a framework of decidedly irrational self-sacrifice as merely a “mild-mannered … checklist of preacher-talk” is adolescent at best. A love based on burping bathos is what turns the seemingly vivacious sexpot (when you’re both drunk and the lights are low) into the coyote ugly hangover the next morning. It is what makes marriage impossible in today’s culture. Love is not about a person’s passing feeeels.

    Or are you the kind of fellow who would change the ending of Casablanca, to where Rick bangs the stuffing out of Ilsa in the hangar? … who only the night prior wilted and cried, “Oh, I don’t know what’s right any longer. You have to think for both of us. For all of us.”?

    RICK: “Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I’ve done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: bend over that trash can. I have an ‘urgent passion.'”

    And his pastor would applaud his Churchian obedience. … Worst of all, the list suggests a feminist equalism …

    The list does no such thing, and the very word “Churchian” is the signal of deep ignorance. That a few hucksters and charlatans appropriate a venerable term for their ecclesiastically antithetical ideology has no bearing on the truth the church exists to proclaim. You have chosen to define Christianity by its enemies and their latter day sabotage. The church is the final institution, the only rock still standing, the last voice in this post-civilizational maelstrom to proclaim that men are different from women.

    The list suggests broadening one’s understanding of love to include all the things we learned after puberty. It doesn’t negate or reject childish passion. Rather it expands that universal experience — that lowest common denominator we all feeeel as teenagers — to encompass and support the good things in life: family, fellowship, legacy. It marries instinct to living well. It channels impulsiveness into the life worth living. In a word, it transfigures our bodies.

    Orgasms and eros are accessible to animals. The human being is the daimon suspended between the natural and the divine. We are neither to reject (puritanism) nor worship (paganism) our urges but rather synthesize them into a superior form. And there’s a word for that synthesis: Love.


  33. Amen, Matt. Amen 🙂 I still remember reading The Four Loves and Mere Christianity three summers ago at your recommendation. It pleases me very much to tell you Mark now states that he believes in God as the revelation. Isn’t that wonderful?! Our relationship just turned two. I surprised him by buying him new frames for his glasses. Both of our sets were in complete disrepair. Metaphors, always metaphors. The IRS said he earned $500 for being married to me this year, so that is progress, and who knows what we will do next! 🙂

    “Cross your legs and fold your hands, but leave your heart agape :)” – the real message of KM

  34. “The list suggests broadening one’s understanding of love to include all the things we learned after puberty. It doesn’t negate or reject childish passion. Rather it expands that universal experience — that lowest common denominator we all feeeel as teenagers — to encompass and support the good things in life: family, fellowship, legacy. It marries instinct to living well. It channels impulsiveness into the life worth living. In a word, it transfigures our bodies.

    Orgasms and eros are accessible to animals. The human being is the daimon suspended between the natural and the divine. We are neither to reject (puritanism) nor worship (paganism) our urges but rather synthesize them into a superior form. And there’s a word for that synthesis: Love.”

    I really didn’t see the sort of “broadening” or “synthesis” you describe in the list presented above. It comes across as pretty mutually exclusive and unnecessarily dichotomous to me.

  35. Love is a feeling. It is also and active verb. True “synchronicity” requires both.
    It’s a nice thing, for example, that even after 23 years of marriage my husband phones home after a trip (or texts) and says he “can’t wait to have” me.

    It would not be a higher, “better” form of love (even if that might be markedly more “mature” according to the list above), if he decided instead to stop by the store on the way home because we needed dog food.

    I remain convinced that we’re doing something right, and I base this on reality and results.

  36. Matt, when people restate and reframe an argument or opinion I state (“burping bathos … orgasms and eros are accessible to animals) I make in clearly inaccurate and insulting terms, I check out. It just proves to me you do not know the difference between rhetoric and dialectic, disagreement and insult. So there’s no point in replying.

    It’s too bad because you raise some interesting points, and I admire anyone who’s able to cite Lewis. However, even Lewis read his own taxonomy of love in a manner contrary to what you state: his taxonomy of love is integrative, not hierarchical. Lewis neither shamed nor subordinated nor dismissed the sexual impulse, as you do. (Neither does the Bible, incidentally, a modest fact overlooked by faux-Christians like Ingram.)

    I’d go on but there’s no point as I’m sure it would be “burping bathos.”

  37. Speaking of love, I read Glenn’s comment on f*** fatherhood today and I cried for him. In my opinion, that is the last thing to tie any man to the FI. And when its gone, it is not a tragedy for a father (yet another break up), but it is a tragedy for the daughter. A mother who cares about her children will put their relationship with their father above her own issues. A mother who denies or sabotages their relationship with their father loves herself more than her children.

  38. I suppose we all have our different “check out” tolerances. Dismissing the church of my fathers, which I love and would die for, this Bride of Jesus and mystical Body of Christ, as “churchian” and a haven for “feminist equalism” doesn’t exactly sit well with me, but I don’t take it personally.

    One man’s “mild-mannered … preacher talk” is another man’s “burping bathos.” I’ll turn down the vividness of my adjectives to help you better focus next time.

    But only for that reason. I won’t apologize for neutralizing your disparagement with something a touch stronger just because we are all damnably accustomed to this era where easy criticism of Christianity goes unnoticed and carries no cost.


  39. What’s deficient and self-parodying in your remarks is your insistence on being the interpreter and arbiter of things truly Christian. Suggestion: Start your own religion; Christianity doesn’t sustain self-idolatry. This is why you get thrown off blogs all over the internet: the posturing, while amusing for a time, becomes a caricature, neither amusing nor theologically defensible. Make up a new name and go back to Heartiste and posture there. Your work on Heartiste was truly manly stuff.

  40. Heh. If my theological interpretations are not defensible, it should be easy for you to present the case that proves them to be mere “posturing.” Rather than, you know, importing partial impressions and half-truths from other places and asserting your incomplete picture of me as authoritative and responsive.

    Which blogs “all over the internet” have I been thrown off of, now? I frequent two or three, depending on their waxing or waning vitality.

    See, you don’t get to characterize me, the person, as an idolater then complain about the ways I characterize your mere words. You want to fight without appearing to be engaged in a fight … and then blame my character for the bad feelings that arise from a fight.

    There is another possibility you might have neglected to consider: maybe your understanding of Christianity is incomplete or corrupted by your own vanity, and so you make it a point to detect that peculiar flaw in others.

    I see your naked accusation of self-parodic idolatry and raise you Matthew 7:5. Otherwise, I am always up for a genuine round of fraternal correction, brother. “Genuine” being the key qualifier.

    I don’t really want to make guesses at your character. Admit in your heart of hearts that neither do you want to make guesses at mine.


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