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  • Writer's pictureKatie Ratliff

Authentic vs. Counterfeit Love

Updated: Dec 16, 2018

Authors: Sarah Tramonte and Val Kelly

Authentic love. Isn’t that what we all want?

But sadly we are fed by a culture that promotes counterfeit love (i.e. widespread pornography, premarital sex, infidelity in marriage, contraception, etc).

We have grown so accustomed to this type of love that we don’t even know there is something better.

Christopher West says it’s like eating out of a dumpster to try and feed our hunger for love. But meanwhile, we ignore the incredible banquet that God has prepared for us.

But how do you experience authentic love if you don’t even know what it is or what it looks like?

In this post, we’ll share the four components of an authentic love (Free, Total, Faithful, Fruitful) and compare it to counterfeit love.


A love that is FREE, is a gift of our own free will to give ourselves to another.

“Because of their original innocence, Adam and Eve were FREE to love as God created them to love. Unlike the animals, their sexuality was not ruled by instinct, but it was personal. They possessed what Saint John Paul II called the “freedom of gift” because they had mastery over themselves”

(Jason Evert, Theology of the Body in One Hour; Cf.TOB 15.).

Christ’s Example of FREE Love:

Christ could have come down from the cross but He didn’t, He freely gave himself to us. In return we have the opportunity to accept His gift and an opportunity to give ourselves back to Him

Authentic Love

  • On our wedding day, we come together freely, not forced, we give our consent (does this ring a bell....“do you come here freely, willingly, without reservation?”)

Counterfeit Love

  • Forced or taken, pressure to give, manipulation, using sex as a reward, withholding sex as a punishment, or taking it to fill a ‘need’ for gratification. (The Good News About Sex and Marriage, pg. 90)


A love that is TOTAL, that is to say, it is a very special form of personal friendship, in which husband and wife generously share everything, without undue reservations or selfish calculations. Whoever truly loves his marriage partner loves not only for what he receives but for the partners self rejoicing that he can enrich his partner with the gift of himself.

(Humanae Vitae II.9)

Christ’s Example of TOTAL Love:

Christ gave all of himself to us, body, blood, soul and divinity holding nothing back. “This is my body, which will be given for you...” - Luke 22:19

Authentic Love

  • In marriage we give each other our past, our present, and our future, our strengths and weaknesses, the good and yes, even the bad and the ugly. Isn’t that comforting to give all that you are, your total self!

Counterfeit Love

  • Fertility is a part of who we are. When we hold our fertility back for example, through the use of contraception/sterilization, we are unable to give the total gift of our self to one another.

  • Separating the procreative (baby making potential) from the unitive (bonding) aspects of marital intercourse, through the use of contraception/sterilization.

  • Common forms used today: The Pill | IUD | Nuva Ring | Patch | Implant | Injections (Depo)| Spermicides | Withdraw | Diaphragm/Condoms | **Tubal Ligation/Vasectomy (Sterilization) | *Plan B (morning after pill/emergency ‘contraception’)

* reversing the effects of Plan B pill or another Emergency Contraception is possible if taken within the last 72 hours or less. For reversal information call: (877)558-0333 ASAP.

**Sterilization procedures are reversible, please contact us for a reference.

For more specific information on these counterfeits (i.e. Contraceptives/Sterilization) visit:


A love that is FAITHFUL, is loyal, constant, and exclusively for your spouse).

Christ’s Example FAITHFUL Love:

Christ has always loved us, and He forever will love us, He never turns away from us, rather is constantly there waiting for our yes.

Authentic Love

  • In marriage we’re called to faithfulness, being loyal to our spouse “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health until death do us part” (traditional wedding vows). There is security in knowing that even though the future is unknown we know we’re faithfully committed to one another for life.

Counterfeit Love

  • Emotional Unfaithfulness / Intentional Lustful Fantasizing

  • Pornography

  • Adultery

  • Selfish Love of Self: Meeting my ‘needs’ (self seeking vs. self giving)

  • Emotional Unfaithfulness

  • Husband/Wife bashing

  • Divorce: "We all know the terrible reality of the breakdown of marriage. No one wins. We also know instinctively that it was never meant to be like this. Unity is a reflection of love and hence divorce “feels” truly like love at all levels of the family life is broken"-Fr. Martin


A love that is FRUITFUL, must always remain open to the transmission of life (Humanae Vitae 11). “Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the pro-creation and education of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents welfare”. (Humanae Vitae II.9).


“It’s a myth that the church teaches sex is only for babies, or that the only justifiable reason to have sex is if you want a baby” (Good News About Sex and Marriage pg. 91-92)

In maintaining the procreative potential in each marital act, this does not guarantee a child will be conceived.

There is peace in the understanding that the authenticity of a marital union is not determined based on the conception of a child rather it’s the intention that’s the heart of the matter. As long as our marriages remain open to life, struggles with infertility or maintaining a pregnancy does not render one’s marriage unfruitful.

For couples seeking help and support for infertility visit NaPro and Pope Paul VI Institute: |

Christ’s Example of FRUITFUL love:

Trinitarian (Trinity) Love Explained: Did you know our marriages are meant to reflect the Love Christ has for His Church:

  • The Father from all eternity is making a gift of himself in love to the Son.

  • Jesus is the beloved of the Father

  • The Son eternally receiving the gift of the Father makes a gift of Himself back to Him.

  • The Love between them, is so real, so profound, that this love is another eternal person, the Holy Spirit!”

Authentic Love

The Heart of Marriage is found in the Trinity:

  • Man gives of himself to the woman

  • Woman receives his gift

  • She gives herself back to him

  • Be it the will of God, their love may bring forth another human person.

Counterfeit Love

  • Intentional ejaculation that does not end in the vagina!

  • Self or Mutual Masterbastion (Manual or Oral)

  • Open to life only ‘some’ of the time: It could be a common understanding for those couples who have already had children or at some point are planning to have children that they are fulfilling this vow of being ‘open to life’ however to help understand the difference, reflect on this parallel “a couple can be ‘open to children’ over the course of their marriage without each and every act of intercourse needing to be, but that makes as much sense as saying: “A couple can be ‘faithful’ to each other over the course of their marriage, with out each and every act of intercourse needing to be with each other". “When spouses contradict their vows through the language of their bodies they contradict the very meaning of life our call to image God by loving as He loves” (Good News About Sex and Marriage pg. 111).

  • *Separating the unitive from the procreative aspects of marital intercourse: IVF (in vitro fertilization) | Seragousy | IUI (intrauterine insemination) | Donor Eggs & Sperm | and any other reproductive technology that manipulate egg and or sperm outside of the body.

*Just a reminder children created through these means are a child of God, created in His love and in His light! Same applies to children who are conceived while using a birth control method.


If after all of this, you find yourself thinking about the blessing that your marriage has been as it imitates this Christ like love, we invite you to join our mission in evangelizing, #youmeandnfp, by being a witness of light in today's darkness, and to #shareNFP. With you we will continue to strive to frequent the sacraments, as they are the source and summit of grace which we need to continue to live this life to which we’ve been called.


This sounds great and all’ but my marriage hasn't come close to reflecting the authentic love we are called to imitate as referenced above, we’ve sinned in multiple ways, we’ve blown it…

There is hope for healing and restoration

We have all experienced the feeling of our marriage being, ‘pretty good’ especially when comparing it to others, we come ‘close enough’ to reflecting Christ like love ’…

There is still hope for healing and restoration

“A fidelity such as this can at times be difficult, but that it is always possible and always noble…” (Humanae Vitae 9) However, struggle and desire do not rationalize an action. It’s common to hear, “I have a need”. Making this sacrifice, is not easy, but it is worthwhile. “...Not only that Fidelity is in keeping with the nature of marriage, but that it is also a source of profound and lasting happiness.” (Humanae Vitae 9)



Rejoice in the reassure that we have never gone to far astray for the Lord's forgiveness, love, and restoration; Christ’s mercy and healing is more powerful than our worst sin.

“Living according to God's plan will bring you the joy and happiness for which you’ve been searching your whole life”. “Christ came into the world not only to show us the meaning of life, but also to give us the grace to overcome our fears, wounds, selfishness, and sins in order to live life according to our means” (Good News About Sex and Marriage)

Given the grave nature of the counterfeits of authentic love, of which some are listed above, there is potential of mortal/serious sin in living the counterfeits. (see *CCC1854-1864) for mortal sin) Through the sacrament of reconciliation, we’ve personally experienced the power of the forgiveness sin(s) and the removal of the weight that accompanies it, and the grace that has flowed forth forgiveness. *Catechism of the Catholic Church

We at You, Me, and NFP are here to encourage and support you on your faith journey. The Lord desires you! May our goal be that we may all love one another as Christ has loved us, and that through this we may experience the authentic joy filled living in the vocation to which we’ve been called.

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