If you’ve never said it, you’ve probably still thought it at one point in your life. You looked at another human being and thought, “I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you.” Maybe it was a boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, parent or child. Maybe you still feel that way, maybe you don’t…but you weren’t wrong.
The points where our lives intersect with the lives of others can create intense emotions. For the sake of this post, I’ll reference dating/marriage relationships, but this phenomenon isn’t reserved to only romantic love. It applies across the board.
This is why we feel so amazing when we “fall in love” and feel so incredibly awful when it’s over. When you feel crushed in the aftermath of a great loss and mournfully despair that “I’ll never love anyone the way that I love you,” you’re also right. You’ll never love like that again. But that’s OK.
You see, love isn’t something you do TO a person- it’s something you do WITH them. Relationships are never one-sided. There always have to be two people. Maybe one person never feels the way you do, but they’re still there. They still have a response, a role to play in the relationship. It always takes two.
Because of that you’ll never in your life experience the same love twice.
On Monday nights at my house I make spaghetti. If I’m feeling especially generous, I’ll make some chocolate chip cookies while I’m at it. I put salt in my spaghetti sauce. I also put salt in the cookie dough. Salt may be in both recipes, but the results are completely different…because the other ingredients are different.
You could be in 2 relationships in your life, you could be in 50…it’ll never be the same…because the ingredients are different. You may still be there, you may still bring all you have to the table, but those relationships will be completely different.
Now, often we’re subconsciously attracted to the same kind of person, so there may be similar character traits that result in similar outcomes, but each relationship is as unique as the people in it.
This leads to some pretty major implications for us that I think are important consider.
First of all, we need to think about what we’re really doing when we step into another person’s life. We tend to “casually date” or even forget to notice others, but the people we interact with every day are complex and valuable. Relationships have to power to change the course of history…if not for the whole world, certainly for the lives of those within them or directly affected by them.
C.S. Lewis said it best in his book The Weight of Glory:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
There are no mere mortals. We need to stop treating others as if they’re toys to be played with until they no longer please us.
Secondly, at the end of the day, even if you feel no love, what you’ve done echoes on into eternity. If you’ve lost a loved one through death, that might be a comforting thought. If your loss is because of betrayal or a falling out, it might be tempting to find that thought repulsive. But consider this: regardless of the actions of another or the circumstances surrounding the end of that relationship, you have an immense capacity for love. You know that your ability to love is real because there’s real emotion, real joy, real hurt. And, gratefully in some cases, you’ll never experience that same love again. The next time around will be different.
So, it’s ok to love again. There will be joy, there will be hurt, but each experience makes an impact on our lives and the lives around us.
Finally, there’s no need to wreck future relationships because of the past. This is the second marriage for myself and my husband, and I can speak from experience when I say this concept is difficult. It’s easy to get caught up in the baggage of past relationships. Maybe it’s comparison to a past relationship, maybe it’s jealousy over a past relationship, maybe it’s the way you respond to your current partner based on what someone else did to you.
Each relationship is its own. What someone else did to you has no bearing on who your current partner is or how they will behave. If you’re so afraid that they might be like the person who hurt you, you perhaps should have chosen a better partner…one not so much like the offender. But if you know you chose a good-hearted person, you’re doing yourself no favors by not giving them the benefit of the doubt. Trying to protect yourself from past hurts by being forever suspicious in your current relationship is self-sabotage. Let each stand on its own merits.
Likewise, you may despise the person that your significant other was with prior to you. They may be the worst person you know. But the impact of that relationship helped to create the person that your spouse is today, and I’m guessing you think they’re pretty great. My husband told me once, “If you had met me prior to my last marriage you’d have never even gone on a date with me.” Having heard stories, he’s probably right. He was never a bad guy…in fact, he was a really good guy, but our priorities and interests and the way we viewed the world would never have lined up. He had to walk through an awful relationship and so did I to become the people that we needed to be for each other.
Whether we like to admit it or not, those relationships helped to forge the one we have today, and for that we are grateful. Does that mean we don’t struggle with wounds from those relationships? Absolutely not. We both have deep scars from the betrayal of the past and it’s a constant battle to stay ahead of it…which, again, shows the importance of how we treat people and the implications on every relationship they ever have again.
So if you’re struggling to let go of a relationship, if you’re feeling like you’ll never find another love like that one…know that you’re right…and that’s a beautiful thing.