Beware of practicing the kind of love that masquerades as true love yet behind the mask is actually love for self. We know that attraction begins when we see qualities that please us in another person. Physical attractiveness, charisma, power, talent, kindness, and security are all examples qualities in another person that can kindle an attraction, igniting our own feelings of passion, pleasure, excitement, and satisfaction.
Sure, love starts with an attraction but if your love doesn’t deepen past the point of early infatuation, its self-serving nature is unmasked. This superficial love is focused on “getting” something or “using” another person to “get” something you desire. Though you may truly have intense feelings for the other person, behind the mask this love says, “I love you because you give me pleasure” or “I love you because I like how I feel when I’m with you” or “I love you because your financial status gives me comfort and pleasure” or “I love you because you’re HOT and that makes me look COOL in the eyes of others when I’m with you.”
What happens when those desirable traits in another person disappear or perhaps your interest level in those traits fades? After all, what I find attractive in my husband now is not at all what I found attractive when I first swooned over him 30 years ago. When life takes its toll and those desirable traits you based your love on disappear or your interest level in those traits goes… so goes your love.
Consider also what happens when the intensity of love levels off and time reveals less desirable, unexamined traits that suddenly come into full view and now you realize more than expected is required of you to make the relationship work. Everything was working smoothly until difficult circumstances knocked the props out from under the other person’s ability to hold up his or her end of the bargain. Financial strain, children, illness, accidents, misunderstandings, harsh words… are all examples of pressures that unmask a love that says, “I’m willing to love you as long as I get what I expect from you and the price I have to pay is not too high.” It holds conditions over the head of the other and says, “As long as you perform to my satisfaction and your issues don’t cost me, I will love you.” Behind the mask is what has been aptly described as “consumer love” where you look for a high value in another person but only at a low cost to you. When the value is lowered and/or the price becomes too high, you move on to find a better product.
So this month of February when love is in the air, take the time to ask yourself, “Is my love for this person a selfish, consuming love?” “Do I show my approval/pleasure for this person as long as they hit my marks?” “Am I demonstrating the kind of lay-down-your-life, unconditional love for this person that Christ demonstrates for me every day?”
There is no doubt that although love presents its challenges, creating a great love can also be a ball, but it’s never a masquerade.