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by Abigail Van Buren

Love at First Sight May Deserve a Closer Look

DEAR ABBY: Eleven years ago, you ran a piece in your column about the difference between love and infatuation. I was a senior in high school then, going through a mix of emotions for my boyfriend. I married him three years later; however, we are now divorcing.

I want to re-examine my feelings for "Mike" to determine whether my feelings for him were infatuation or love, but I have misplaced your column. Would you print it again? I don't want to make the same mistake again should I meet someone else. -- A. IN TACOMA

DEAR A.: I have printed that piece several times (and it is in my booklet for teens), but because it is important to know the difference, I'm happy to share it again:

IS IT LOVE OR ISN'T IT?

It takes a level head to control a foolish heart.

Can you love someone at first sight? This crazy mixed-up version is better known as infatuation at first sight. Infatuation can possibly be the first step toward love, but in itself, it is not love.

Love itself is built on inner realities. Through experience and a few more infatuations, one acquires a second and better sight. So mature love should be called "love at second sight."

Mature love means liking a person as well as loving. If the most important part of your relationship is physical (making out) and you don't seem to have much to talk about, face it, it's just a physical attraction, and you're really not a very good combination if you're thinking about a lifetime relationship.

How do you know if you're in love? To ask if it IS love indicates doubt. Love is sure.

Don't confuse enduring and lasting love with puppy love. (That's the kind that usually gets you into an emotional doghouse.)

Love is giving, not taking. It wants the best for the one you love.

Love is on the go. It makes you want to charge out into the world and do as well as think big. It doesn't keep you inert, day-dreaming and cooped up with only one person.

Love wants to share. To the one you love, you give your thoughts and your dreams. A new happiness comes with sharing them. Mature love is honest and open.

Love doesn't know what time it is. During your teens, you will have had a litter of puppy loves. But as time goes by, and you learn more about the object of your affections ... and your love seems to grow not weaker but stronger ... maybe the real moment has come.