Why Does Love Hurt?

Love is a wonderful thing, so why does it hurt so much at times?

It hurts when you have someone in your heart, but you cannot have them in your arms.

I remember my first discovery of “love” – a summer romance at the tender age of 10. As with every other year, that summer our family of five commenced our vacation by cramming ourselves into the car to spend 6 hours arguing, jostling for room and listening to endless repeats of Willie Nelson and Elvis Presley.

Sidenote: Pre Spotify, cellphones and DVD players, kids were subjected to whatever cassette tapes took the fancy of their parents. Kids these days don’t know how lucky they are.

Once arriving at the top part of the south island of New Zealand, we settled in to enjoy long days at the beach, accompanied by sunshine, sea breeze and mosquitos.

It was there that I met “him”, a boy of around my age who was staying with his friend’s family at the same resort. We spent a couple days together talking and laughing for hours, until the magical moment when he reached out and held my hand. Then I knew that he liked me as more than a friend.

Later that night, we watched a movie together, and afterwards took a walk to the special spot where you could hear the waves of the ocean and the trees were lit up by thousands of glowworms. It was there where he kissed me.

Our romantic glow-worm lit kisses were interrupted by the frantic shouts of my mother. I raced back to our motel unit to spend the rest of the night being screamed at for having disappeared into the darkness with an unknown boy.

Looking back I guess I see why she was worried. But at the time I was furious at her for ruining my night of romance. The next day we headed home and I never saw him again. But I spent months, perhaps years, thinking of him, re-imagining running into him again, missing him, writing letters to him, poems, songs (all of them terrible by the way). And being generally sad and mopey for having lost the love of my life.

With age, I have of course discovered that he (probably) wasn’t the love of my love (but just in case, Chris, if you’re reading this, drop me an email!).

However the initial lessons remained true. One – parents can greatly affect the path of love. Two – love hurts.

Why Does Love Hurt?

When we fall in love, it feels amazing. We feel like we could take on the world, that we have super-powers. And no wonder – being in love floods our brains with feel-good chemicals, including dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. We’re literally on a drug-induced high. Love feels really good.

Obviously this drug-induced high cannot be sustained indefinitely. If we’re lucky, the initial stage of romance morphs into a longer term, more stable relationship (and provides lots of the feel-good chemical oxytocin).

But if we lose our source of love, we suffer withdrawal and loss – and that hurts.

An entire music industry is built around this penetrating sense of loss. Those songs that go straight to your heart (and come out as you sing / sob in your shower) because they resonate with the pain that comes from the loss of love in your life.

Love is so wonderful that it can hurt simply by its absence.

Why It’s Okay That Love Hurts (At Times)

There’s a lot more to talk about on this topic, including the differences between healthy and toxic love. But for this blog, my main point is this:

Love is going to hurt at times, because it cannot always be present when we want it, in the way we want it. And this can be painful.

This means that to be open to love, you have to be open to hurt as well. This does not mean you should accept love that hurts you. But you need to accept that love carries with it a certain degree of hurt.

Love comes with loss

“There is no love without loss. It’s a package deal.”

Brad Pitt

In loving someone, it is guaranteed that one day you will lose them. That is, unless you run into your own version of Edward Cullen or Bella Swan from Twilight. In which case, enjoy your immortal love! And if s/he has a cute brother – have him email me!

However, that there will be loss, is not a reason not to love in the first place. Because all love carries within it the certainty of loss. As much as we may want it to, nothing lasts forever.

When love doesn’t meet our expectations

When our expectations related to love are not met, this can bring pain.

At times, suffering due to unmet expectations indicates we have more to learn about love and need to reevaluate our expectations.

At other times, it simply requires an acceptance that although our expectations may be reasonable, it’s not reasonable to expect them to always be met.

Love is not an on-demand, customizable item. You can’t expect to order love on Amazon, compare customer reviews to select the model that you want and then demand that love meet all your expectations or you’ll call customer service and demand a replacement.

Neither is love some kind of magical potion that will satisfy all your desires and convert all your problems into happiness.

Love is an energy that moves in its own beautiful way. We can work on creating the right space to attract love into our lives, but we can’t always control its comings and goings.

And that’s ok. Love is supposed to be free – trying to trap it and convert it into a domesticated animal that comes when you call and always stays there waiting for you is not respecting the true nature of love.

To truly appreciate love is to accept that it is a gift to be enjoyed. It is not something that can be controlled, demanded or molded into whatever form meets our expectations.

Hurt leads to growth

It is important to remember that being hurt is not something that is inherently bad or something that we should try to avoid at all costs.

When we feel hurt, we know something is wrong, and we are being given an opportunity to learn and grow from it. Being hurt and learning is a healthy part of our evolution – not a reason to avoid love.

“Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.”

Robert Gary Lee

Don’t Close Your Heart To Love

Once you accept that all love carries with it some hurt and that hurt is the path to wisdom and growth, the fact that we have been hurt in not in itself a reason to close ourselves off to love. Our wounds can be something we learn from, that make us stronger and that assist us in growing.

Love is amazing. And you deserve to love and be loved. Don’t let your wounds close your heart, but allow them to open you to even greater love. 💛💛💛

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.”

Rumi

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