LOVE WITHOUT END

“I know it’s wrong, hanging on too long. And I know it’s wrong, hanging on too long. And I need to move on, hanging on too long.” — Duffy, “Hanging On Too Long”

I spent Wednesday night with two of my girlfriends, catching up over pizza and empanadas. We talked about life, love and pain, our recent romantic conquests and the arrested development of guys in Buenos Aires. The question of the night: On the great big battlefield of love, does love indeed conquer all?

At least one of my friends thinks it does. Or at least it should, when the love is mutual and abuse or infidelity or some other serious romantic crime hasn’t been committed.

My take: If only.

I wish love conquered all. And I suppose that sometimes it does. But the timing isn’t always right. Sometimes two people, despite their love, are just not right for each other. Everyone has deal breakers, a bullshit threshold and a personal level of courage. I’d like to think that the cowardly guys in my past who claimed to love me meant what they said, but they just weren’t strong enough to be with me.

Perhaps they didn’t love me enough. That’s not for me to say. That’s between them and their soul. And that I wasn’t willing to settle for crumbs certainly doesn’t diminish what I felt for them. I don’t buy that there are levels of love. It’s not like you pass from level one, to level two, and so on, up to level five. Love is not a Spanish course.

Love changes and love evolves, but it doesn’t advance up a scale towards the greatest love of all. After all, we all love differently. One cannot say that someone who has loved someone for two months loves less than someone who has loved someone for 20 years. And sometimes, despite the love two people have for each other, they just cannot be together. We do not live in a vacuum, and there are always outside forces pushing people together (for longtime married couples, usually kids) or tearing them apart.

I warned my friend that her idealistic view of love would spell trouble for her down the line. She would get into relationships and hang onto the them for dear life, hang on to them until there’s nothing left to hang onto, determined to win the game of love, determined that her love will conquer all. But letting go doesn’t mean you don’t love. Sometimes self-preservation has to prevail.

The bottom line is that in this world only a few people are lucky enough to find that for-the-ages Sunday kind of love that lasts forever and ever, amen. That doesn’t mean that those people have experienced the aforementioned greatest love of all. It just means that along with the hard work it takes to make a relationship work, time and luck are on their side. Yes, love takes work, a lot of work. But being a workaholic isn’t such a healthy thing, in or out of the office. It’s important to know when to punch the clock and go home.

“I know it’s wrong, hanging on too long. And I know it’s wrong, hanging on too long. And I need to move on, hanging on too long.”

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