Sam Holstein

Not All Love Ends In Marriage

“But it can’t go anywhere,” they said.

I was texting a friend the other night. They have feelings for someone, but the timing is poor. Travel and emotional unavailability make it difficult.

“What would be the point, other than indulging myself?” they ask.

The point of love is to unselfishly give to someone, not to consume them like a piece of chocolate. When you have feelings for someone, you aren’t taking anything away from them. Even if the other person doesn’t share your feelings, you haven’t taken one whit away from them or the universe. Love is giving.

That’s why when you have feelings for someone, it doesn’t need to ‘go’ anywhere. ‘Going’ somewhere implies that they reciprocate your feelings. It implies that you’re both ready for commitment in your life.

Sometimes that isn’t true. Sometimes they don’t reciprocate. Sometimes neither of you are in the right place. That doesn’t mean you need to repress and attempt to murder your feelings.

To show you this, I’ll tell you a story.

As a fourteen-year-old girl, I had an enormous crush on a boy at my school. This boy had a crush on another girl. Because we were friends, he told me about it.

Sounds heart-crushing, right? Except I didn’t feel my heart being crushed. In fact, in my awkward way, I conspired to help him start dating this girl. And when he did, I was happy for him.

At the time, I was dimly aware that most people would feel heartbroken or jealous. But I didn’t. This boy didn’t want to date me, he wanted to date her, and I wanted him to be happy. For me, it was as simple as that.

This all seems a lot less foreign when we realize that this is the way every other type of love works.

When we love our best friend, we don’t require commitments of fidelity, to be their only best friend. We don’t require a promise that we will remain their best friend at all. Our love for best friends is unselfish, given freely.

When we love our parents, we don’t require that they be perfect. Our love for our parents evolves, even if our parents age or become the sorts of people we don’t like all the time. Our love for our parents weathers almost all storms.

It’s only with romantic love that people get caught up in ‘commitment’ and ‘results.’ This is because we live in a society that expects people to pair-bond and start families.

While that is a delightful outcome of love, it isn’t the only possible outcome.

What the ideal outcome is for any given love depends on a lot of things. Only you can say what is truly best for your situation.

To my friend: It’s okay if your feelings for them don’t ‘go anywhere.’ You don’t need to make them a committed partner to enjoy your time with them. If circumstances dictate you can only give them a limited amount of time before they’re gone, then that’s fine.

It’s a hell of a lot better than spending that time trying to crush your feelings into submission.

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no hurt, only more love.”

Mother Teresa