Why I'd Rather Be The Woman Who Loves Harder Than She's Loved

“It’s always better to marry someone who loves you more than you love him.”

In an episode of “Sex and the City,” a new bride turns to Carrie, whispers these words into her ear and walks away unfazed. Carrie is left startled and stunned -- and from the look on her face, I’d go so far as to say she leaves the room just a little more jaded.

Love is an enigma. It is rare that we find two people in any given relationship who love one another precisely the same.

Usually, an imbalance is present. One of the two loves is just enough to sustain the bond, no more, no less. The other one, by default, loves above and beyond what the bond is even capable of. And it’s the other one who is truly special.

It’s the other one who loves even when it’s wrong. It’s the other one who loves so hard that it hurts, who loves blindly but bravely because she knows loving with half her heart is irrefutably a waste of time.

We've all heard the expression "Better to have loved then lost than to have never loved at all.” But I’ve never been able to figure out where I stand.

On the one hand, loving someone so much that you'd consider his needs over your own is a unique experience worth having. But on the other hand, if and when a love like that burns to dust, it becomes impossible to replace and impossible to forget.

Dr. John Amodeo argues that we grow up feeling like it’s “more noble” to give love than it is to receive it. He says those of us who love harder do so to prevent ourselves from becoming “self-centered monsters” -- from giving, we believe we can help fill the voids in the lives of the people we love.

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve fallen in love twice. The loves I endured were two different kinds of love entirely: the first was a fiery love with an adventurous, blue-eyed boy, and the second was a more tranquil but still beautiful love, with a brooding, brown-haired man. Each relationship exploded with love -- only the latter loved me harder than I loved him, and the former couldn't love me as hard as I loved him.

As the lesser loved, I've been to the darkest depths. As the more loved, I've floated along, and I've sidestepped misery. But to this very day, I'd still always choose to be the one who loves more than she is loved.

I want to feel euphoric, not complacent.

I once explained the feeling of being the one who loves more to my mother. I told her being with this man felt like flying above the sun. She told me I was falling in love the “wrong” way. I countered with “you can’t fight for this like I can because you’ve never felt this inconceivable feeling.”

She convinced me I sounded like a hopeless drug addict.

Those who perceive love the way my mother does have most likely never been the kind to love harder. If they did, they'd know any other feeling in love is incomparable. Those kinds of loves -- in which each partner loves equally, in which one person doesn’t love harder -- may be in greater abundance, but they’re of lesser value.

I want the highs and the lows, not anything in between.

If you aren’t loving with all that you are, you simply aren’t living. What greater feeling is there in this world than that of being in an inconsolable, uncontrollable, can’t-remember-what-life-was-like-without-him kind of love?

I want the kind of love in which one heavy word is enough to pull me toward him, but one ill-fated look is enough to tear us apart. I want him to madden me with his indecision, then awaken me with his spirit.

With each and every test of my best self and my worst self, I want him to pull my heart out of my chest and play with it in his hands. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I want to feel completely challenged, not utterly bored.

A man loving me more than I love him is a dynamic that grows tired quickly: He showers me with gifts. I get used to his magnanimity. He senses my comfortability-turned-boredom. He gradually tries less and less. I entertain straying more and more, and slowly but surely, we fall apart.

It’s more than that, though: A man loving me more than I love him is trite. It’s unremarkable. It’s a love I find in many places I go and a love I see between many people I know.

It’s easy to find a man who will love me. But it’s difficult to find a man I love as much as I love myself.

I want to be the girl who loves harder than she’s loved.

When I fall, I fall harder. When I love, I love harder. Because when I love, I can’t help but to love with everything in me.

His sadness becomes my despair. His happiness becomes my pleasure.

To know this kind of love -- a kind of love so powerful that you adopt his heart, a kind of love so strong that you’d die for him -- is to have had a magnificent stroke of luck. It is so exceptional that, perhaps, it is one we’d fare best without ever knowing because nothing less will ever come close to being enough.

Last night, I had a dream about the incredible, blue-eyed boy: He was advising my sister, a dentist, on what to do about her patients while she took sick days.

“You’ll take care of them,” he said, “not because you feel like you have to, but because it’s in your nature to want to.”

I can’t help but think my sister was really me. I can’t help but think he knows it’s in me to love unconditionally. And I can’t help but think it's no coincidence I dreamt of the boy I had always loved harder.

The girl who loves harder loves herself no less. She makes room to love both the man she chooses and herself. Neither one fills half her heart because she is ridden with two hearts. And that will forever be both her biggest plight and her most precious gift.