There are two ways we begin to understand that we're developing feelings for another person: We feel nothing or something.
This sounds too simple to be true, but it is. Our primary method of understanding what a person means to us is by how we feel. And when someone manages to make us feel something, that feeling can either be pleasant or unpleasant.
Many people think love should only be associated with pleasant emotions. But I don’t want to argue over "shoulds." I’d rather accept things as they are.
Love comes with pleasant and unpleasant emotions -- with both the positive and the negative.
You know that you love someone when the thought of that person brings a smile to your face -- just as you know you love someone when you miss that person, even if it’s only been a few days since you’ve seen each other. And you understand the presence of this need by how unpleasant it feels.
When you’re in love, your emotions become more powerful. This happens simply because you care about your partner's opinions, wishes and concerns. The thought of losing this person hurts you.
And all of these emotions we experience in a relationship become building blocks for love.
Our love is what it is because it has history. We love a person not just for how he or she makes us feel in the moment, but for what he or she made us feel over the years. Love has memories. Love gives space to a variety of feelings and emotions. Love is quite literally the result of both pleasant and unpleasant emotional experiences.
Of course, there is more to love than emotions. But the emotions that our loved one make us feel are what hold the love together. If we stop exciting each other, we'll feel like we've fallen out of love.
The problem, however, is that it’s incredibly easy -- and common, for that matter -- for our emotions to become unpleasant. It’s happened to all of us before, and it will likely happen to us again.
The relationship begins to get wobbly. The only reminder we have of our love for our partner is how horrible losing that person makes us feel. Instead of making us smile, this person now makes us cry. Instead of wanting to hold on as tightly as we can, we feel trapped and unable to breathe. We question our love, and that only makes things hurt even worse.
When your relationship reaches a point where the only emotions you’re experiencing are ones of sadness, hurt and an unexplainable need to hold on and never let go, it’s time to let go. It’s time to move on and stop wasting what precious little time you have.
If you feel that you need to hold on tighter, it’s only because you know this person is slipping away. You know he or she isn’t doing much to hang on to what you have. And -- as much as you hate to admit it -- things will not get better for the two of you.
But you don’t want to let go because you never want to let go of the people that are bad for you.
How could we when the pain we feel reminds us of the love we have for our partner? How could we just want to walk away when it’s clear that this person affects us so profoundly?
We don’t want to let go of people who are bad for us because our incompatibility is exactly what makes it clear to us how much we love them.
It’s never easy to let go of someone who has such a power over us, but it must be done. And the sooner the better because the longer you allow your love to stay alive and be defined by all these negative emotions you’re experiencing, the more toxic that love will become. The longer you hold on, the more miserable you will grow.
It’s not that you can’t let go -- you just don’t want to. You refuse to. Nevertheless, that doesn’t change the fact that you must move on and find yourself a new love story. This one may not yet be over, but it’s been ruined. No matter what you try, it will never regain its purity.
And while no love between human beings is entirely pure, a certain level of purity is necessary for it to be worth the trouble.