What does that mean?
To me, this quote is speaking of the most fundamental rule of the universe. Love isn’t owned and cannot be taken. It can only be given. This quote talks about mutual love and of the only valid test. If you love someone, you have to give them the freedom to choose for itself.
The freedom to choose is important, as sometimes a love is out of duty, loyalty, fear (of loneliness or retaliation) or for some other reason. In each of these cases, the love (true love) is only in one direction, the other direction of love is tainted by the reason for the love (something other than true love).
By turning the other person loose, they if they come back, it is (one hopes) because they love you, and the feeling is mutual. If they don’t come back, you would only have been fighting a losing battle to hold on to them. That is a battle that you will eventually lose, so lose it early and get on with your life.
Why is love (true love) important?
Let’s start with some definitions, shall we? Love is defined at thefreedictionary.com as “A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities or a sense of underlying oneness.” and “An intense emotional attachment, as for a pet or a treasured object.”
Another definition to consider is infatuation, which is defined as “A foolish, unreasoning or extravagant passion or attraction (synonym of love).” If we look at the second definition listed for love, and apply it to people instead of pets or objects, you can see how it would resemble infatuation.
To me, this is where I differentiate true love from common love. True love (you may use a different word) is between two people and is mutual in nature and based on the calling of the heart. Compare this with a relationship where one person has a form of love for the other, but it isn’t mutual. If you’ve ever experienced both kinds, you probably have a definite preference for what I call true love, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
We all have relationships in our life. Some even rise to the level that makes it appropriate to use the word love. Whether it’s familial love, brotherly love, romantic love or whatever other label you may have, putting the word love in it, takes it to a whole new level.
How do you measure love, and what are the rules you expect love to use? What are the do’s and don’ts? Does everyone have the exact same list? Do you talk about where things stand often enough to notice that things are drifting apart, or is your first clue their last act of desperation?
An interesting description of what I consider true love, with proper motivation, can be found in the New Testament, 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13, Verses 4-7 :
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Read the whole passage, and compare it to some of the people you love. How well does your love score by this measure? I try to keep track of my loves and keep track of how well I am doing. How often have you measured your love? It’s not something most of us do very often, if ever, right?
You may have a different way to measure love, and that’s fine. Just be sure that your partners in love know what your scale is, so that everyone is on the same page. My wife and I chose the Biblical passage above for our wedding, so we would know how to measure our behavior and our love.
Take some time to determine what your definition of love is and how it is to be measured. Then share it with the people you love and see if they agree. It might end in a lively discussion (or worse), but if that’s the case, that discussion will occur eventually, right? Do it now, before there are years of resentment built into it, and that way the hurt may be lessened and may be easier to heal.
This is probably the scariest of all the quotes I have tackled, from a practical standpoint. Who wants to take a chance at losing someone they love? But, as the quote says, if they don’t come back, it wasn’t meant to be. So by not taking that leap of faith and turning them lose, you may end up pouring a lot of time and effort into a relationship that is destined to fail. And that hurts a lot more. Trust me on that one.