Love is complicated, compelling both the most amazing and the most heartbreaking emotions. It is elusive and nebulous; it brings butterflies in our stomach and causes that warm, fuzzy feeling in our hearts. However, it is also tangible in the acts of service and emotional support we provide to others.
Love is a powerful force that unites humanity, inspires lives, and catalyzes the most extraordinary feats of forgiveness and grace. It is a pathway for redemption, even amidst the most corrupt of circumstances.
Since love is so powerful, however, is it possible to love too much? Is there a point at which this formidable force becomes more detrimental than beneficial? Is there such a thing as an “excess” of love?
These are questions we all have asked at one point or another. This article won’t provide a definitive answer. But hopefully, it will give you a new perspective of love — and maybe even inspire a new way to live your life.
Of all human relationships, these are perhaps the most powerful. Upon the first encounter with that special someone, it seems everything is suddenly lit by an unquenchable glow. You find yourself smiling for no reason. And despite your attempt to conceal it, even strangers could see that you look in love.
It is a breathtaking experience that, when mutually felt and sought after, causes some of the most potent – and even addicting – sensations of happiness.
However, it is also one of the greatest sources of heartbreak. When this wonderful glow stops shining, whether through unfaithfulness, life changes, or death, we feel the exact reverse of happiness. We go through emotional anguish accompanied by a literal, piercing pain in the chest.
Does this mean we “fell too hard?” Would the pain be less if we had simply loved less? The natural reaction to heartbreak is to question our eagerness to enter the relationship. The fall was quick, and we wonder if the climb was worth it.
It’s complicated, and no perfect answers exist. But we must find, within ourselves, the answer. Each situation is different, and there are uncountable ways in which a romantic relationship may reach its end.
However, just because it ended doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.
Although it may feel like a waste once it is all said and done, you will benefit in more ways than one. You will have learned lessons and gained experiences that will shape the rest of your life.
Parenting is another category that brings this question into view. In some ways, we may even love our children more than the partners with whom they were made. They are our own mini replicas, after all. There are a few things more delightful than noticing the subtle but significant ways in which they reveal aspects of ourselves. We have the amazing chance to see them grow (in most cases) from babies into adults.
In essence, we get to see and guide the development of a unique human being – someone who could become the next president, find the cure for cancer or send a man to Mars.
Even more than romantic relationships, the love investment in parent-child bonds is intense. We want so badly to see our children succeed that, sometimes, we feel we have let them down by failing to fully understand who they are.
Power dynamics add to the complexity as children grow older and responsibilities change. Parenting requires some of the highest levels of adaptability and both mental and emotional strength (not to mention the often required physical strength).
Did you love your son too much that he felt pressured by your expectations and decided to drop out of college? Did you love your daughter too much that she left the house because she felt overprotected?
These are tough questions. But love itself is not the culprit – and neither are you. Many circumstances, events, and predispositions that exist outside of our control. Most importantly, we must realize that love is not the same thing as control. Instead, it is the loyal and unconditional giving of ourselves to others.
Love is complex, and so is life. We can choose how much to love, and while they say that “too much of a good thing is a bad thing,” perhaps the answer lies in how we define love. Ultimately, however, the answer is up to you. Take the time to reflect on your own experiences and come to terms with love and life. Then, you may find the answer.