Why I think intense, passionate love is actually kind of the worst

I was talking to a friend recently who had just broken up with his boyfriend. It was a really civil, mutual break up. They still cared a lot about each other, they just didn’t thrive as a couple.

My friend told me, “I really loved him. Like, I loved him from my gut, you know what I mean?”

I knew exactly what he meant.

I remember reading through the Twilight books — bear with me! — and as I read them, I thought to myself how terribly intense Edward and Bella’s relationship dynamic was. Yeah, yeah, there was vampire and human aspect to contend with, but I mean that the actual relationship part was so extreme. Everything they did was filled with layers of remorse and heartache. They were holding each other and trembling 10 times more than they were laughing together.

To provide an example of this kind of relationship more rooted in reality, I was once in a long-term relationship where the love I felt for that guy was almost life-crushing. It was not a bad relationship, it just was a really powerful love, where each emotion seemed to be heightened. Every feeling of love and loss throughout the relationship was emotionally exhausting.

During that time, I saw couples that seemed to have a more lighthearted sort of love in their relationship. I knew it was possible not to be worn out by love. When I started dating my now-husband, I remember very carefully and consciously acknowledging, first to myself and then later to him, that we had that life-giving kind of love. I’ve never felt exhausted by my passion for him — only energized.

I remember how that earlier, heavier relationship made me so afraid to trust the easy love of my husband early in our relationship. It was like I was afraid that shining a light on it might make it disappear, that one wrong move might forever weigh it down and make it like my past relationship.

No matter how much you may love a person, even if you love them from deep in your gut, that kind of affection can hold you back sometimes. It doesn’t make room for the relationship to be nurtured and blossom. In fact, it often has a tendency to keep you weighed down; your love feels so intense all the time, and the feeling in your stomach becomes like an anchor on your relationship.

It didn’t take long before I could trust that I had a life-giving love with my now-husband. The worries of heart-wrenching love faded away. We communicated well, we laughed often (together and at each other), and we enjoyed spending non-stop time with each other, whether that time was spent traveling and exploring new places together, or re-watching 30 Rock on Netflix.

When my friend asked me if I knew what he meant by loving someone from your gut the answer was yes. Yes, and it is a really good kind of love. It is. But it is also a really hard love, and often it takes from you more than it refreshes.

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