Love is Loss… and Other Lies From Modern Culture

I love our house. I loved it from the moment I saw it online. If there was such a thing as “love at first sight,” it would apply to me with this house. It’s the house I’ve been dreaming about my whole life and when we drove up into the driveway for the first time I said to my husband, “I’ll do anything for this house.” It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for us, and not a day goes by without whispering prayers of gratitude for the blessing of living here.

There was a period of time when we thought we weren’t going to be able to stay here, and I’ll tell you, I’ve never loved the house so much as during that stage. The pain of my love and potential loss was so searing that it sent my gratitude and appreciation into almost ecstatic overload. Everywhere I looked I saw a memory and a slice of beauty, and my heart broke at the thought that we might have to leave it behind. I was able to keep the anticipatory grief in perspective (we have our health and a loving family, that’s what matters most), but I still felt grieved… and more in love with this house than ever.

If you’re in the throes of engagement anxiety and plagued by questions like, “Do I love him/her enough? Am I really in love?” I hope you’re making the parallels between my degree of love = potential loss story and your love story. We live in a culture that promotes the belief that drama equals love, and without the drama – which essentially means you’re not quite sure if the other person is really in the relationship – you’re conditioned not to feel passion. Here’s the romantic theology of our culture (kind of like a geometry proof):

  • Love equals passion
  • Passion equals uncertainty
  • Uncertainty equals drama
  • Drama equals possibility of loss
  • Possibility of loss equals love

It’s only in retrospect when my appreciation is dulled (still there but missing that sheen of ecstatic clarity) that I realize what I was experiencing during those few months. Without the threat of loss looming forefront in my awareness, I have to make a concerted effort to see and appreciate where we live. It’s exactly as my clients describe: “I’m taking him for granted. I’ve always known that the relationship was solid but it was only after he proposed and I knew with certainty that he wasn’t going anywhere that I started questioning if this is what I really want. It’s like as long as there was an element of uncertainty, no matter how small, it satisfied that place in me that needs the mystery or the possibility of loss to feel in love.”

It’s not easy but it’s entirely possible and essential to re-condition yourself to accept and appreciate what real love is about. Real love is stable, consistent, and reliable. Real love is not about drama and mystery; it’s about the here and now. Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes it’s exciting. And it takes real effort to keep your appreciation and gratitude alive, to nurture yourself in ways that fuel your own sense of passion, and to see your partner through fresh eyes so that you can embrace the real – and wonderful – love that is right before you.

11 comments to Love is Loss… and Other Lies From Modern Culture

  • Thanks Sheryl for your wonderful post! Today’s my birthday (27!) and the wisdom and insight of your words was a great gift for me!

  • Amy

    Yep … THAT’S why I have to go attack my husband when I watch something tragic like Titanic. Threat of loss does fuel the flames!

  • Carrie

    I can be emotional at times. My husband always seems to know exactly what to say at exactly the right time to make me feel better. When I imagine what life would be like without someone so comforting and understanding, it really makes me appreciate him that much more. It’s the little things that he does that help me not to take him for granted. Great post Sheryl!

  • Sarah

    Sheryl (or anyone else that can remember) – could you tell me the title of the post that talked about feeling more fearful around your fiance? I keep searching and searching but am having no luck. Thanks!

  • Gmjersey

    the title is Search for perfection- from marrying to buying the perfect home. I love this post. I get what you are saying, it makes total sense BUT the hard part for me is the reconditioning myself to see love and appreciate love in a total different light.

  • Sarah

    Same for me. I have a terrible habit of looking at my partner and seeing what isn’t there vs. seeing what is and being thankful for all that he is and does. I focus on how I wish he was different and it totally ruins our time together; I can’t live in the present moment and just enjoy our relationship and love that I know is there.

  • Sarah

    PS – thanks for responding 🙂

  • Gmjersey

    Sara I had a dream the other night. I was with all my close friends and family and I was doing 100 things at once, asking how everyone was doing. Bringing more food out, making sure everyone was fine but to the extreme. Its like i couldn’t sit down and enjoy the party. I woke up feeling like WOW this is my life right now. I am so worried and preocuppied with all the things that are not “perfect” or all the “what ifs” that i’m not enjoying my present life. Since then I am very conscious of making sure that i appreciate and take joy in the things that happen day to day.

  • KD

    Same here. Why do I feel the need to dissect our relationship and our time spent together? Why can’t I just be gratfeul that someone, who I care deeply about, has expressed their love for me? It’s really taking away from all the good things we share. Thanks for reminding me to step back, breathe, and take it one day at a time.

  • […] feel like to connect with an open heart. It is not, in itself, love.We’re also conditioned to associate love with loss and longing. We chase after the unavailable one who will never fully commit and the drama of the chase induces […]

  • Bridget

    This is a fantastic post. Yet another that makes me sigh with relief at finally hearing that I’m not alone in feeling this way! Thanks, Sheryl!

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