Love. The idea, the concept, the act, the story, the process, the ideal, the heat, the cold, the sun, the moon, the ice, the earth, the smile, the tears, the joy and the sorrow, the regret, the being in and the sharing of, this thing that we call Love.
We don’t really know how to talk about Love in the scheme of everything else in our life. What we know is that Love is important. It’s the source material for many stories, songs and movies and industries. It’s so important that perhaps we should design a taxonomy of Love, a classification system that, off the top of my head, might look like this:
- Familial Love
- Parental Love
- Sibling Love
- Divine Love
- Erotic Love
- Romantic Love
- First Love
- Unrequited Love
- True Love
- Only to get the rush of Hormones Love
- Asexual Love
- Pet Love
- Junk Drawer Love
A Classification of Love takes care of the science of Love, since science is increasingly interested in what goes on inside and around us with this Love thing, but there’s the other part of Love, the part that science can’t touch or explain: the part that’s mystery, that’s unexplainable, that seems immune to explanations and algorithms designed by all the online dating sites. I suspect that’s the spirit, the energy and the art part of Love.
For Love to thrive, its environment must — must — allow it to constantly create and recreate itself, adjust and adapt, change, evolve, engage, contract, expand, explore. If not, Love ends up just hanging on the wall or sitting in a shelf for show, gathering dust, being ignored, being part of the scenery. Some people capture Love only to neglect the environment it needs to live, to thrive, to shine.
But enough about all the philosophy of Love — that’s a discussion for another day. I have been more curious about why some people avoid Love of the partnering kind. In hushed corners of rooms at parties, people have told me. As it happens, some people are not avoiding that kind of Love at all, they are simply choosing other paths and don’t feel a need to make space for a time and thought-consuming Love that plops a Love partner in their life. These people live full and complete lives without Love.
However, in even more hushed tones in other corners of different rooms at parties, other people admit to having been hurt in Love and never wanting to feel that again.
Cue music. Gene Pitney. Only Love Can Break Your Heart.
Never want to feel that again? The hurt or the love? Or love that goes away because of the hurt, because of the pain of disappointment or the horror of rejection? The pain of what we hope and want to happen that never materializes? The pain of realizing that we made a wrong choice? The pain of being wrong, of thinking it’s Love when it’s convenience or wishful thinking, or a distraction or a fling or an escape and not Love at all? Or the pain of knowing that the thing labeled Love is a disguise for something we didn’t want and didn’t ask for?
The course of true Love never runs smooth.
How can true love hurt? Even a moment of true love. How can it hurt? Where each person accepts, honours the other? Are equals? Laugh together? Hold hands? Are free to be together, with each other, who they each are? Even manage to ungrump each other those moments when one or the other gets grumpy? How can that hurt?
What hurts? Losing it hurts. That’s what people say. Sure it hurts. For a while. So what? We get through it. That’s life. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes we will Love and sometimes we won’t and sometimes we get what we want and sometimes we don’t. Being hurt is not the end of the world and if anything is truly ever the end of the world, then nothing else matters.
Those people in the corners of the room at the parties. Hurt has closed them down. Shuttered their hearts — closed to pain, closed to joy. Closed to exploring the world for fear of experiencing new boo-boo of the heart.
Do we not break our own hearts?
Those people in the corners of the room at parties, speaking in hushed tones, spoke of hurts that came in the aftermath of what they labeled as Love and the piling on of hurt that came with the many decisions taken along the course of Love.
Other people, those who spoke less in fear and more in awe, said that when they found true love, it hurt them, immediately. A piercing, sweet hurt, one that never completely vanishes. THAT was the hurt I needed to understand. Where it comes from, its genesis.
So off I went in search of the real reason that true love hurts, and here is what I found: