Maybe it’s because we’ve grown up in a capitalist society that we consider love a limited commodity like other goods we buy and sell, that we cannot love more than one person at a time, that if I give too much love to you, that will be less for someone else.

We all lose those we love. No one is immune. We can lose them to death or departure.

We might have been the one to decide that it was time to separate. It might have been the other person. Or it might have been an end brought on by human mortality itself.

It’s guaranteed that no matter whom we love, they will leave us if we out-live them. That’s even true of the animal members of our families.

It’s a sad fact but no reason for morbidity. How we respond to it is what matters.

It’s a fact that makes every present moment of love even more valuable. Our response, if we recognize this, is to love even more, to value every attempt to love on the planet, even if it’s an imperfect try.

It’s a reminder of how important love is in our own lives, whether it’s the love of family, friends, or someone special. It’s a call to love all the more.

In the middle of so much fear, and in a society built upon so much fear, we cherish love as a counter-acting force. As we get older and, I hope, wiser, we realize that other pursuits, principles, and obsessions pale in comparison to nourishing those we love. Who on his or her deathbed has ever regretted not spending more time at the office?

But when that time comes that we have gone our separate ways, our feelings don’t come to a grinding halt, even when the parting was “the best thing for us.”

We sit and ponder, ask what if, wish things had been different, remember good times, try to ignore the trials, and even mourn our loss.

And at some point we begin to berate ourselves: Why do I still have feelings for this person? When will I get over him or her? Why do I still care? How can I go on? What’s wrong with me?

We could put a lot of energy and frustration into trying to un-love and not feel for the ex. And people do that.

Or we could stop trying to un-love someone and realize that love isn’t a commodity that is scarce. We could decide that it’s okay to continue to love an ex and that we can also love someone else too.

Maybe it’s because we’ve grown up in a capitalist society that we consider love a limited commodity like other goods we buy and sell, that we cannot love more than one person at a time, that if I give too much love to you, that will be less for someone else.

But what we might also have noticed is that love is the kind of thing that spreads, that it’s more abundant than we’ve ever thought. In fact the more people love, the more love there seems to be in the world. We aren’t lacking in love on this planet because too many people are loving.

So, I can “move on” without having to waste my energy undoing feelings for someone in the past. I don’t have to spend time working hard to put closure on them.

I can love those around me — friends and relations — and I can even move forward in my own life open to whatever the universe brings me, maybe a life partner. My love for anyone else does not depend on whether of not I still have feelings for a past love.

I can let those feelings be, for they are feelings that, like all feelings, are meant to be felt. I can choose however whether I want them to dominate how I think, act and decide. I can choose to live not on those feelings but on world as it is ahead.

But if I continue to try to un-love someone, the effort will only keep me stuck.

Contributed by

Bob Minor

University of Kansas
Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies
A national resource for information on gender issues and gay/straight relationships for organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and media outlets such as NBC and USA Today, Bob Minor, Ph.D. …

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