I woke up one morning and the fever was gone. Suddenly, unexpectedly, with no explanation. I didn’t love her anymore.
She was gone. I accepted that, but this was more. I didn’t want her anymore. It wasn’t sour grapes. I had moped and pursued her for a couple of years. She practically begged me to. But I had given all I could give to her. I had given her every chance. Finally, the love was dead. I was drained.
It was like the breaking of a fever. One day, my heart was sick that I couldn’t have her, that she wouldn’t choose me, that she wouldn’t reverse the mistake she admitted that she had made.
And then the next day, I simply didn’t care. I don’t know how it changed. I just woke up knowing that I didn’t care anymore. The painful longing was gone. I got out of bed and casually blocked her on Facebook. It was time to cut the last remaining ties.
She never heard a word from me again, not even an explanation or a goodbye. It felt liberating.
Love never dies a natural death. It’s killed by pride and ego and arrogance. It’s murdered by bad choices and fear and selfishness. In the end, though, the cause of death for love is always indifference.
Love can survive for a long time under difficult circumstances, but it can’t survive indifference. Not forever. When I reached indifference on that day nearly six years ago, it wouldn’t have mattered what she had done. It was too late. I was ready to move on.
That wasn’t just a temporary reprieve. I never felt a stab of regret in the coming days or weeks. As the weeks passed, I didn’t second-guess myself. My love for her was gone and buried.
For me, love is an all-or-nothing affair. If I love you, I crave you and need you. I crave all of you. Your voice, your touch, your smell, your presence, everything. Half a love is worse than none at all. I want all of you — or nothing at all.
For the previous couple of years, my love had lived on promises and hopes and hints and loving words. When I became indifferent, the words and promises which I had relied on suddenly meant nothing. It was as though I had been under a spell — and the spell had been broken when I woke up that morning.
This indifference continued. The weeks stretched into months and the fever didn’t return. It was then that I realized the fever was completely gone. I was free to live again. I was free to love again.
And then — months later — something completely unexpected happened.
For the first time in a long, long time, I fell in love with someone else. I had known her — not nearly well enough — years before. I had wanted to know her better, but circumstances had prevented that. I had put my feelings about her into a box and closed the lid tightly. I thought about her sometimes, but more in the way I might think of some fantasy woman who I’d never have.
And then, here she was again.
The feelings came exploding out of the box where I’d hidden them. They consumed me like a fierce fire blazing through a dry forest. Every part of me wanted every part of her. I would have done anything for her love and presence.
I had not thought I could love more powerfully than what I had loved before. I didn’t think I could want anyone as much as I had wanted her. I didn’t believe I could need life with a woman as much as I suddenly needed to live with this new woman.
What I experienced was the most powerful and most devastating love of my life. The previous love was just an ancient memory.
I got a letter this week from a woman who is still in love with a man who no longer wants her. She doesn’t hold out realistic hope that things will change. She just wants to stop loving him. She wants to stop hurting.
She asked me if she would ever get over her love — or if she would feel this way the rest of her life.
And I told her this story. I can’t predict what will happen for her. All I can say is that when I was under the spell of my love for someone six or eight years ago, I feared that nothing could ever change. I thought I was doomed to forever love someone who I couldn’t have — and that nobody could take her place.
I was wrong.
Someone not only took her place, but someone surpassed her in every possible way.
For me — and I suspect for most people — love will survive fierce blows and hurts and betrayals for a long time. But then, without warning, it will die.
When we love, we want nothing more than to be loved in return. We will make any sacrifice for that person. We believe this fierce love can never die. But if we’re pushed to indifference for long enough, the fever will finally break. We will rethink everything. The hurts and betrayals which we have willingly suffered will finally be too much.
We feel hurt. We feel used. We feel betrayed.
Then we become indifferent. Love has died. We have been set free from a love for someone who isn’t willing to choose to give us love in return.
And then, at some point — without warning — we will love again. That hope is the only thing that keeps me alive.