Dating and Relationship Advice

You don't have to live too long on the planet before you lose something or someone you love, whether through death or separation of another kind. If you've done it right, part of you will feel like at least some part of you has died. The great debate is whether it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. The common answer is that love is worth it even if it might be lost — all love will eventually be lost since nothing, and no one lives forever anyway — because to protect yourself from love is to never truly live.

Losing Love

And yet, losing love can be so painful that it can also keep someone from truly living after the loss. I've seen this more true when love is lost due to divorce/breakup than death, and I'm not entirely sure why. It might be that losing someone because they've died enables the belief that you would still have had their love were they still alive, but losing love because a spouse leaves or a partner ends the relationship shatters any delusion that the person you loved still loved you. And that can understandably make it feel like life is over. And in many ways, it is.

Of course, physical life goes on. But when you can no longer share the love with your beloved, there is an aspect of life that does not go on for whatever reason. We do ourselves a disservice by not acknowledging this; by leaping right to "it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" proclamations, we cut off grief. Failure to grieve can infect other parts of lives, taking more with it than just what was lost when love ended and making it harder for life to meaningfully continue after love.

We Make Our Choice

Because life sometimes does end when love ends, grief is a necessary part of moving on and being able to love again. We may lose a partner and decide we want to remain single for the rest of our lives, which is a valid choice. But if we don't properly acknowledge and grieve the loss of romantic love, we will also dampen our availability for other forms of love —you don't get to pick and choose which emotions you'll turn down and which you'll amplify. This means you have to choose between risking going through what could be a kind of death, likely more than once, or not loving anything and thus not feeling many other feelings. While some might say the obvious choice is to take the risk, I genuinely think it's up to each person to make that choice for themselves. Only you know what you can handle, and it's up to you to decide what your life will be about. Either way, if we want life after love, we must also acknowledge the grieving process.

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