Love versus Infatuation; and developing a purpose in life

by phil on Saturday Oct 9, 2004 8:02 PM
passion and purpose, purpose seeking

Some definitions are in order:

infatuation - A foolish, unreasoning, or extravagant passion or attraction

love - A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude

(phil's usage of) angst - A feeling of anxiety or apprehension based on an intense desire to do something.

my personal story

I was lying on the floor, frustrated, and pestering myself with the question, "what am I going to do with myself? why should I work? why should I do anything?" This was the beginning of last week, but I've been in that floor-angst zone many times. There are three cases that I want to cover here: once in April of last year, once this past July after I graduated, and once at the beginning of this week.

At the beginning of last year, I could have sworn I was going to be a painter. I had painted intensely thirty or so abstract acrylics. Since the act of creating each painting energized my spirits, I figured I was "pursuing my passions." To me, this is what I was meant to do.

My motivation for painting came to a halt when I considered exhibiting my work. I started out aggressive. On one day, I met about 20 gallery owners, and then the next day I started making brochures of my paintings. But after a week, something started chewing at me. I kept asking myself, "is this what I really want to do?" and "do I really care about painting?" I was so stressed by this confusion and all the effort I was putting into marketing that I caught a cold. I then gave up and started looking for other things to do.

A few months later, I then thought I was going to be a writer! How did I go from painting to writing? Well, my logic was that maybe painting wasn't my true passion. So, I asked my heart, "what moves you," and it drew me into blogging and writing essays. Boom, I went all aggressive into writing like I did with painting and put out maybe 300 articles. Writing did to me what painting did, which was send me to energetic highs. My emotions were so intense that I thought, "yes, this MUST be what I want to do, look how it moves me, look how it engages me!"

So I decided to become a professional writer. I had an idea for a short-story and a novel, and I started brainstorming. After a few days though, all my energy fell flat. I felt similar to how I felt with trying to exhibit my paintings. When it came to doing my art for reasons other than a personal high, my angst would return and my motivation would evaporate.

This last week, I was hit again with a similar impasse, but this time I took a different approach. I analyzed myself and came to the idea that maybe the "pursuit of passion" may not be enough to satisfy my angst. Maybe, in addition to me enjoying a project, the project needs to create a sense of meaning in me. So, for example, while I enjoy being in the throes of creative inspiration while painting or writing, I don't really care about painting in general. I enjoy paintings in museums, sure, but I don't walk up to them and think to myself, "yes, this matters." So my understanding is that painting and writing are purely infatuations to me. They can give me all the symptoms of love without truly setting me "in love." And the difference between being in love and having an infatuation is that love combines passion with solicitude or a caring. When you love something, it not only inspires and moves you, but it compells you to give and nurture.

So, if you are trying to find meaningful projects by simply pursuing what turns you on, you may not find yourself deeply satisfied and fulfilled. Meaning or purpose in life can only come when you have something you love.

Theory behind this

Purpose and meaning in life are emotions that indicate that we are needed for tomorrow. When you love something or someone and you care about how it or they fare in the future, then you automatically take on a role where you are needed.


What is it that I care about? Well, I'm still pinning that down. I have a project I'm working on, and I want to see if it can sustain a sense of purpose in me.


Applejack said on October 11, 2004 10:49 PM:

heh, post by post you're getting closer to the bottom of this. Ironically I think the answer is obvious -- it's thick in that blurry "angst" you describe. What isn't so easy is articulating the answer, and only after articulation can one institute an idea, so the errant quest continues. Maybe your love is in the persuit of the persuit of passion, in bold spite of this pseudo-passionate, quick fix Dr.Phil world...

Philip Dhingra said on October 12, 2004 12:06 AM:

Oh no! I'm becoming like that Viktor Frankl guy. In his book, "man search for meaning," when asked what Viktor Frankl's meaning is, he says it is to help others find meaning!

Others have said, maybe our purpose is to seek purpose!

I guess a lot of my passionate energy does go into meta-passion.

Everytime I write one of these things I think, "yes, this is it!" So I don't know if this mini-essay is the last word, but yeah, it's definitely progress.

DamonC said on October 12, 2004 1:13 PM:

It's tuff being an atheist, ain't it?

If you got yourself a religon you could let it answer all your unanswered questions.

Philip Dhingra said on October 12, 2004 3:17 PM:

I wish it were so easy. But once you've proven to yourself the non-existence of the Other, then it's hard to just *poof* pop spirituality back into existence.

Applejack said on October 14, 2004 12:35 AM:

"RELIGION: the answer," is overrated. Even a little cliche. If it was enough, God wouldn't have blessed the world with Dr. Phil.

Philip Dhingra said on October 14, 2004 12:54 AM:

Random non-sequiter:


DamonC said on October 15, 2004 9:17 AM:

My comment above was mostly sarcastic. I've been religonless for most of my life. As an atheist you've got to answer life's questions on your own (no ordained dogma)... or leave them unanswered.

Philip Dhingra said on October 15, 2004 9:39 AM:


Yeah, you had me fooled. I get a lot of e-mail and comments on here from people trying to criticize my atheist ways. That's why I assumed yours was just another one in the bin.

Applejack said on October 15, 2004 10:35 AM:

Filthy Athiests. You and your pre-911 mindset.

Philip Dhingra said on October 29, 2004 2:31 PM:

Don't forget about Poland and the internets!

edurd said on November 30, 2004 6:07 AM:

i think that love and infatuation is connected to each order to fall in love,one must like the person's appearace which is the start of infatuation.

Tuzi said on December 1, 2004 5:05 AM:

Ok first, edurd, it's "love and infatuation ARE connected." Second, liking someone's appearance is totally different with being infatuated with them. Example, I might be infatuated with a certain actor and anyone else who looks like said actor, but do not intend any love relationship. I like the way some guys look and would like to date them, but I am not infatuated to the point that I become obsessed, silly goose edurd. To become infatuated is also to become dangerously obsessed.

Randall Surmanek said on December 7, 2004 6:50 AM:

I behest you, Tuzi, to explain to me why you feel the need to put people down as you explain things to them. Scolding the inferior is okay, or even encouraged, when it's deserved. However, unprompted belligerence portrays an image of self-emptiness, general disregard for others, and lack of empathy. But hey, do whatever brings you fufillment, I don't care.

As for me, as I look back upon my life I notice that for every person who I've brought any degree of happiness, be it temporary or long term, it makes me just a tad bit happier. Would you rather in the end, have lead a life of happiness or regret? The answer is painfully simple. In the end the only thing that matters is finding what brings you happiness and occupying your mind with it untill you cease to exist.

I agree with your views however and would like to add that you can become dangerously obsessed with someone or something that you genuinely love. The two, infatuation and love, are not opposites or contradictions.

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