You Might Not Have Been In Love As Often As You Think

The pain of loss creates an illusion of Love stronger than Love itself

With a bleeding heart, you watch them leave. Wondering, if you can ask them to stay, if you should. You wonder if they’d stay, even if you asked them to.

Didn’t we all almost fall for someone to just be left heartbroken as they slipped right through our grasp? Like they were never even there. Time and again, we are left with the ‘almost together’s — the ‘could have been’s. Ghosted by people we were inseparable with; the ones we dated briefly, before parting ways or flings that could’ve been more. Associations that showed potential but never really fell into place, leaving us just a little more broken than they found us.

Why is it that every so often we don’t even realise how much we love someone until they leave?

Maybe, because we don’t. Being abandoned brings upon a rush of intense emotions — from grief to rage, from a bruised ego to lost hopes and dreams. It brings upon an emotional surge so intense that our brain might fail to register all of them individually and fools us into concluding it was Love that we lost.

If you ask me today, I would tell you that I’ve loved a lot of people, wearing my heart on my sleeve. What can I say, I’m a lover. So naturally, I have loved and lost countless men in my life. But really, have I?

Lost, yes. Loved? Can I say for sure? I guess that’s the catch. We rarely can.

There’s a lot that we might confuse for love. Most often, in the genre of unrequited love stories, abandonment tops the charts.

The Acute Pain of Loss Clouds All Emotions

For a very long time, I believed I had loved the men of my past — the ones who left and never looked back. Now that I am in love with the man of my present and reminisce upon the days bygone, I realise I wasn’t. I wouldn’t say I was not in love with any of them. Sure, I was — just not every time I thought I was. Maybe I actually fell in love this time. Or just matured enough to comprehend my emotions. One can’t possibly pinpoint a ‘Eureka’ moment here.

I can tell with certainty that every time I was abandoned by a potential The One, there were almost always other stronger emotions at play–which I didn’t pay heed to, at the time. None of them resembled Love.

Reflecting on the many culprits of our cloudy judgment is a bottomless pit. But in retrospect of my dating history spanning the last ten years — I’ve gradually learnt to identify and criminalise my primary suspects, up to a certain extent.

Disappointment. Guilt. Anger. Loneliness. Doubt. Regret. Shame. Social Stigma. And more than these, there was that looming scent of fading memories. The feel of a man’s touch on my face. Of his kiss on my forehead as I come home after a long day at work. The wait for the chill of the winter to surrender to the warmth of love when we hit the bed wrapped around each other. The memories of moments I lived and wanted more of made it worse. The pain of it all drowned me, making all cognitive sense disappear into thin air leaving behind a broken heart and a mess of incomprehensible emotions.

Hell Hath No Fury Like An Ego Bruised

In our minds, we’re usually right. We’re convinced we make the required efforts and compromises and try to do things in the best interest of the relationship. Suddenly, someone tells us we’re falling short. They’re walking out because we weren’t good enough.

While the heart is broken and the soul devastated, the mind finds this absurd. We’ve all caught ourselves saying ‘I deserved better’. ‘I was good to you’. ‘Why would you want to leave me?’ We think we’re worth more than that. Abandonment makes emotions run haywire, but what pinches most is the fact that our partner didn’t think we were worth the effort and the fight.

This indicates how the ego has suffered a massive blow. But we’ve also heard the stories of how ‘love is bigger than ego’ so we don’t even dare to admit it existed. As Ego takes a bullet, we bleed from everywhere. Our sense of self is rattled. We believed that we were good. And we were. We just couldn’t be good like they wanted. But how do you tell that to your wounded ego?

The Dream That Was Never Lived

When we meet someone new and a chord strikes, the heart does a little dance. Sparks fly and there is that feeling in our gut — the excitement about how it’s going to turn out. The hope that we just might become something more. And so, we let our imaginations run wild. Really wild.

Crazy scenarios start to form in our heads. We begin to think of all the ‘us’ we will have. We’ll talk like we’d never run out of talks. We’d lie next to each other in a blanket hogging on pizzas and binge-watching our favourite shows. Get drunk and dance on bar counters. Stroll in the city streets, lovingly holding hands. Kiss and let the world just melt away. The cute fights we’ll have and how they’ll still like us on our bad days. Such innocent, beautiful dreams. But that’s all they are.

When we date and live our dreams, the bubble bursts. Life comes in the way of love. People fight, relationships hang on by threads. But when we’re abandoned, the dreams in our heads that bear no resemblance to reality become a parallel universe we lived in. The bubble didn’t burst and now it never can. All we’re left with are the dreams of the perfect possibility, started but never finished. And in love, who knows not the allure of potential.

The Void That Leaves Space For Too Much

Before you met them, you were doing fine. Maybe you were the superhero of the movie that is your life. Or you were a broken soul, picking up the pieces and putting yourself together. You could’ve just as easily been the heartbreaker. Life was good. And one fine day, you met them and it changed. You became happier, you felt the butterflies and you bloomed. Life was better. Then, they left, creating a void where they used to be.

The mammoth difference in the dynamics of yesterday, today and tomorrow is overwhelming and difficult to adapt to in just a blink. Since they became a part of your life, you spent your days glued to your phone waiting to see their name pop up in your DMs. You spent weekends drinking and they made Saturday morning hangovers go from nightmares to cuddles at dawn and sharing breakfast over the kitchen counter. They were the first person you called for a pick-me-up when your car broke down in the middle of the road.

Whether you craved pasta and wine from the joint at the end of the street or merely needed to rant because Susan from work was being a bitch — they were your person. And you don’t have them anymore. It isn’t just your heart that is left with a gaping hole, so is your life.

Love Is a Choice ‘Two’ People Have To Make Constantly, Consistently

Love isn’t easy, it doesn’t fall in your lap and it does not walk away from you.

You choose the people you want to love. And then you love them everyday. Even when you feel like you can’t. Even when you feel like you don’t want to. You have to choose to love them. No matter how hard it gets.

And when you can’t choose them, that’s how you know it’s over. That is how you know it ain’t love anymore.

Unless you’ve loved, laughed, fought, fought more, lived and survived, it was not love. It was really strong and deep-rooted infatuation, it was intense love-potential. You shared an attachment powerful enough to nearly destroy you. But you survived the abandonment and its aftermath. It’s time to adjust your sails and tread the waves once more. Start over and keep breathing.

“How do you know you it’s Love?”

“How did you know s(he) was the one for you?” is one of the most common questions people ask each other, framed in a million ways, obviously. Recognition could be the answer to this age-old ponder. The day we start comprehending the depth of our feelings and emotions towards those we come in contact with, this question just might cease to exist.

The realisation struck me when I recently unfollowed a former fling of mine from Instagram because I saw his story pop up in my feed and I cringed remembering the series of unfortunate events we went through. He had dumped me and months after the dumping I sent him a text that I ‘loved’ him (cringing as I write). Today, I know I didn’t love him at all. But back then, it felt like I did. A deep dive into memory lane revealed that if he hadn’t left me, we would still have parted ways after a while as we weren’t each other’s type, to begin with.

My battered ego, shattered sense of self-worth and the hole his departure left in my life led me to the despicable act of using with the L-word long after he was gone (still cringing). It has been four years since the incident and I forgive myself for it all keeping in mind that I was young and didn’t know much about the spectrum of human emotions.

Today if someone asks me, I’d say that we shouldn’t tag romantic experiences and intense relationships as ‘love’ just because we felt too much. It is important to allow yourself to feel deeply but it is just as important to understand what you feel while you are feeling it, to get it right.

Love is rare, it is priceless–be frugal while spending it.

Product designer. Moody writer. Passionate artist. An avid reader of literature & people, alike. Mostly found in very close proximity to wine and dogs.

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