The Case for Falling in Love?

Photo by Gabriela Camerotti

Anybody who has ever suffered and endured the pain of a broken heart inevitably feels a sense of a failure, regardless of their role as heart breaker or heart breakee (although it is never quite that black and white).

Trying to find meaning in my latest romantic “failure” and feeling very much overcome by the F word, my good friend led me to Harvard-trained academic Mari Ruti’s anti-self-help self-help book, The Case for Falling in Love.

This woman urges a different perspective on the messy enterprise of love: “As long as we believe that the goal of love is to make us happy, we see romantic ruptures and disappointments as mistakes; we see love’s missteps as deviations from its ‘proper’ course. In contrast, when we admit that love’s mission might be to mold our destiny, we are able to view its misfortunes as an important part of the process.” Ahhhhh.

According to Ms. Ruti, life events, such as heartbreak, can accelerate our development, propelling us from one stage of life to the next and open us up to new possibilities.

Her overarching theme is that suffering, and suffering caused by ‘failed’ love is ultimately beneficial: “Suffering cuts through layers of redundancy. It strikes at the very heart of being, releasing our spirit from its cage. In this sense, moments when things don’t work out well for us are rife with opportunity; they are openings to transformative energies that, in the long run, revitalize our lives.”

She contends that once we are ready to get back on our feet after licking our wounds, our heart and soul rebuilt, albeit haphazardly and askew, we are better people for it – more thoughtful and compassionate.

There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in (Leonard Cohen)

And how do we get back up on our feet? Although we lose the person, we can steal qualities from our lovers – emotional tonalities that help us grow and become part of our psyche. The intertwining of the psychic and social renders us psychologically agile but also vulnerable. Like it or not, our lover gets under our skin and stays there.

Healing occurs as we undertake the journey to reconfigure our identity. Although the relationship is broken, we can take on the potentialities that were present in the relationship and nourish them. In Ms. Ruti’s words: “It’s only when we learn to thrive beyond the confines of that relationship that it’s safe for us to finally let go of it.”

Ultimately, she concedes, we must learn to tolerate the gray murkiness of love by being resilient and resourceful. “This is where the battle should be waged: Not between you and your lover, but within your own being.”

Easier said than done, right? Transforming meaningless suffering into emotional and psychological growth is an arduous path. In the early stages of grieving and mourning, it doesn’t help to think your way out of heartache. You can rationalize ‘til the cows come home, but it won’t make things any clearer or easier. After all, the heart wants what it wants. But, as we have seen, in time, we must ultimately learn, grow and march forth with scars where the wounds used to be to meet our destiny.

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