Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why Does Love Hurt?

by Erin McNaughton 
“Please describe why love hurts.”

This is the first topic I’ve had a reader request I talk about. It’s a tricky one, but I’ll answer the best I can.

First and foremost, we should figure out what love is. Love as we understand it is a myth. Love is an emotional response due to the triggering of neurotransmitters in the brain and the release of neuromodulators, such as oxytocin. Love is a perception, a judgement, an evaluation. Okay, now let’s ignore my background in science for a minute, and think about what love means, culturally and universally.

What is love?

Love is rainbows and butterflies, puppies and unicorns. Love is waking up next to the same person every morning with a huge smile on your face. Love never fights, love always share. Love is receiving a dozen roses every Thursday “just because.” Love is happily going to the football game with your husband, that awful chick flick with your girlfriend. Love is beautiful. Love is perfect. Right?

I don’t think so.

Love is painted to be this idealistic and effortless state of pure bliss. In our culture, love is supposed to be easy. But it’s not. I don’t understand why people willingly jump into that mysterious rabbit hole without consulting the rules and guidelines first. So here’s a page or so torn from the middle of that rulebook – the section on why love sometimes hurts.

Love hurts because we choose for it to hurt. We allow ourselves to develop attachments to people, acting under the assumption that they’ll always be there for us. Personally, I’m a brick wall, but once someone gets through that, it’s really hard for me to let them go; it’s unbelievable hard for me to accept that love doesn’t last forever and that someone I care deeply about doesn’t care all that much about me.

“The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to feel the pain.”
- Jennifer Aniston

Love hurts because we over-think events, we make assumptions about others’ intentions, and we attribute character flaws to our transgressors. Rather than focusing on the love we’ve experienced, we focus on the pain it’s caused. Since we can’t control events, we try to explain them; however, both are equally damaging.

“What we need to know about loving is no great mystery. We all know what constitutes loving behavior; we need but act upon it, not continually question it. Over-analysis often confuses the issue and in the end brings us no closer to insight. We sometimes become too busy classifying, separating, and examining, to remember that love is easy. It’s we who make it complicated.”
- Leo Buscaglia

Love hurts because we give up on it. When you’ve got a family and friends – a dozen people who would put their lives on the line for you – why do you wallow in self-pity over the loss of one person? When the going gets tough, its prime time to toughen up; don’t falter and don’t lose faith. Love is delicate, but love is also strong.

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.”
- Author Unknown

Love hurts because it makes us vulnerable to another. Love is taking off your armor and trusting that someone you care about won’t take a cheap shot. Love is scary because there’s a lot at risk. The potential for pain will always linger in the back of your mind if you let it; be aware, but not on-guard.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
- C.S. Lewis

Love has the potential to hurt. Love – whether blissful, unreciprocated, or lost – can evoke the most potent pain known to man. I would bet that surveys would show heartbreak to be the most undesirable of human experiences. However, love is also one of the greatest teachers life has to offer. Fearlessly embrace love and allow it to mold you, rather than handling it from an arm’s length away; if you don’t put you’re all into, you won’t get anything out of it.

What baffles me is that love is a gift and love is a choice. If someone walks into your life, gives you the world, makes you a better person, and then walks out, why can’t we just accept that? Why can’t we be grateful for what that person taught us, the strength they gave us in learning to let them go?

I believe that people are inherently good. I don’t think anyone intentionally hurts anyone else; I think it’s simply selfish motives getting in the way of the greater good. I believe that everyone would choose love over hurt, if given the option in its purest form.

Love sometimes hurts and that’s okay. But we should never let the pain engulf and debilitate us. Recognize unhealthy evaluations of love and loss and learn to let them go, but never let go of love because the potential for pleasure and flourishing is always worth the risk of pain.

Why Does Love Hurt?


Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Modern Warfare 3