I have been having some of the most beautiful and poignant discussions around love lately. What it looks like, what it feels like, how it grows or fades, what it needs to blossom, and what it takes to make it go away.

Because let’s be honest, sometimes we do need to make it go away.

*this post might be super abstract for many of you. I have a very visual mind and will do my best to paint you a good picture with my words*

In my mind, love is a linear spectrum. It is all pink-hued and soft at the beginning; gentle, bubbly and quiet. As it progresses from left to right, the colors subtly shift from pinks to deeper pinks, to fiery reds, and deep blood-colored burgundies.

After careful consideration and lots of processing with friends, it is my opinion that this love-line, if you will, works something like this:

Everyone has their own love-line for every relationship they enter into (I am really only speaking about romantic love here). You have one whenever your heart finds someone – regardless of whether or not that love is reciprocated. It progresses from left to right and, for some people, it can start off explosive and fast. For others, it might be a slow and steady progression or perhaps a slow and steady surprise. It begins as infatuation, then perhaps a crush, then you might be struck dumb when you realize you have some serious feelings brewing for someone.

But here is the catch; new love can only progress to a certain point. That first tickle of love can only move forward on this continuum of love if it is reciprocated. If it isn’t, then alas, your love will get stuck there and you are essentially left with a heart that feels full to bursting and has no where to go.

Yeah, ouch. We have all been there and it hurts like hell.

Now, let’s say that you have that crush, you are head-over-heels for someone and that love is requited? That is when you have that forward momentum toward the far right end of the spectrum. That is when love can grow and deepen and blossom into a love that can last for years and builds itself a home in your DNA. That love can fade, but the essence of it stays with you forever. That is the love I have for my ex-husband. It will never leave – it is a part of me. And that is okay.

So, how does a person who finds themselves stuck in the bursting, crushing-hard, love stage make it stop when that love is unrequited and has no where to go? Boundaries! Big, fat, hard, scary boundaries. The only way forward, toward letting go and healing, is to wean yourself off of the drug that is love and go cold turkey, right into a stage of zero contact.

Research shows us that falling in love is indeed akin to being on drugs.

This is an excerpt from a post by Shauna H Springer Ph.D.

Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and relationship researcher, conducted a series of illuminating studies on the brain chemistry of love. Specifically, she found that the same brain chemicals (that is, massive amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine) are in play, and many of the same brain pathways and structures are active when we are falling in love and enjoying a cocaine-high.

Consider the specific euphoric effects of smoking crack cocaine. In the short run, according to the website cocaine.org, smoking crack cocaine leads to enhanced mood, heightened sexual interest, a feeling of increased self-confidence, greater conversational prowess and intensified consciousness… “It offers the most wonderful state of consciousness, and the most intense sense of being alive [that] the user will ever enjoy.”

You need to rid yourself of that drug that is love. Once and for all. Completely. Block a phone number if you have to, delete them from social media, steer clear if they are in your social circles. This advice may seem extreme, but for me, it has worked in the past and gotten me to a space where I was able to let that love fizzle and fade and come back around to a space of a deep and solid friendship with a former crush. But I could not have done that without the no-contact rule. It took a whopping 23 days and now he is one of my closest friends – and I don’t feel anything other than a deep, friend-love for him.

Once again, I am currently stuck on the left side of this love-line; the pink, effervescent side. It is unrequited, and I am in that space of having to back off and untangle my heart and travel backward and let go. Back to myself, alone. I love easily because I walk around with my big, open heart right on my sleeve. It finds connection in the strangest places and I have no choice but to go along for the ride. I have tried casual, I have tried slowing down, and though I did manage those things for a time, it isn’t really a comfortable state of being for me when my heart wants OUT.

But here is the thing – something I am coming to understand and accept about myself, is this:

When my heart gets involved, I don’t do casual. I don’t do half-assed. I don’t do lukewarm. I dive in headfirst, with a fearless and reckless abandon. I may be too much for some people, but the truth is, most people are not enough for me.

I was told once, by a wonderful guy, that he wanted to ‘steer’ the relationship, He told me that if I were the one to take the reins, I would drive us straight off of a cliff.

And he was right.

But I would rather have someone hold my hand and jump off with me, than go in circles, endlessly, forever.



  1. I love the thought you’ve put into this and I have what I think might be a different take…

    I wonder if love is perfect acceptance of another person distinct from you* for everything they are and everything they aren’t. A recognition that the other person is their own unique being with their own unique perspectives, feelings, desires, behaviors, etc. and you accept them exactly as they are and not as you would like them to be (regardless of whether the love is reciprocated or not).

    I think where I’ve been painfully lost-in-love in the past was when I became attached to an outcome or when my experience of myself becomes so entangled with the other person that I can’t tell where I begin or they end. It becomes a mishmash of me and them with little or no differentiation. My identity then requires them to love me and be in my life. If the object of my love leaves or stops “loving” me they are literally taking a part of me with them. THAT is a horrifying proposition — that a deep and integral part of your heart and soul can be ripped from you without your consent or control.

    I think you would agree that the kind of attachment I described is not good yet it’s what we are taught growing up.We’ve been taught, and I think this applies especially to women, that we need a partner in order to be complete. That we are not enough by ourselves. That our partner “completes” us. I’ve read some of your other posts where you address this so I know this isn’t new to you.

    I don’t think what you are talking about in this post is love. I think it’s infatuation or perhaps obsession. I think you’re talking about the same kind of getting lost I spoke of before. I think the real love is the love you have AFTER you have extinguished the all-consuming infatuation/obsession. I think the real love happens when you can stand on your own and love yourself fully, completely, and unconditionally. It is only then when you are whole and complete as an individual that you can truly love someone else at the “deep blood-colored burgundies” level.

    I think this is where the boundaries come in. It’s those boundaries that help you to see that you are indeed separate and that it is not only okay that you are separate but that it is required in order to truly love yourself and any other.

    I’m beginning to believe that you have to enter love relationships with boundaries already in place. Not that you can’t give all of you and love as deeply as you say you do but that you have to continue to remember and reinforce that you are your own person. If you can do that you can love fully, deeply, and forever without conditions because the love emanates from within you. Love is not a thing or phenomenon outside of yourself it IS you. You are the love.


    *I think this is a critical distinction. To love someone distinct from you means that they can be in your life or not without compromising that love and without causing pain or angst. True love includes allowing the object of your love to be who and what they are without conditions or requirements — that means they don’t have to love you and the love doesn’t have to be reciprocated. It’s a kind of love that provides true freedom for you AND the person you are loving.


    • I never said my current love wasn’t infatuation. It is. I only tried to describe, in simple terms, my visualization of love and how I believe it works. I have read the article you attached. I don’t know if that is something I will ever be able to do.
      I wish I could love this person and not expect anything in return but it’s too scary for me. At least right now. After the hurt I’ve been going through and the hurt I am currently in.
      Thank you for your thoughtful post


      • It’s definitely not an easy way to love. It requires a lot of patience but more than anything it requires building muscles around loving yourself and knowing that you are okay just as you are and just as you aren’t. Love how you love. Embrace your fear and hurt (I think you’re already doing this). Your writing is fantastic therapy. You’re already on your way Amy, even if you don’t know it yet.

        I didn’t mean to come across as smug or righteous in my post. I think what you wrote is accurate and profound. I’m still working on love without attachment myself. I don’t think it’s a destination but rather a journey. 🙂


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