Not all love is forever – and that’s okay.

Maybe I’m the last person who should be writing about this, since I’ve never had a romantic relationship last over 2 years, but I’ve loved enough to know that not all love is meant to be forever. I am someone who loves very openly and very easily, I feel love the same way that I feel everything else – so deeply it overcomes me. As an empath, I feel other people’s emotions as if they’re my own. I absorb them and somehow subconsciously take responsibility for them. Everything I feel, I feel deeply in my soul. This can be a blessing, as it makes me very in tune to other people’s emotions, and it can be a curse, as it is difficult to learn how not to take these emotions on as my own. I believe that a lot of my negative emotions growing up as a child were caused by the negative emotions that others around me were feeling, I absorbed them and as a child had no idea where they were coming from or what to do with them causing me great distress.

I remember my first love, and heartbreak. I thought it would be forever, and when it wasn’t, I thought I’d never love again. But I did love again – many times in fact. And all but one time that I’ve loved, I’ve left with more than I came in with. I don’t mean that in the physical, materialistic sense of the word ‘more’, but in life, knowledge, understanding of one’s self. And sometimes, I have even left full of gratitude.

I used to feel ashamed that I’d never had a ‘long term’ relationship. Until I had one, in which was only long-term because I allowed myself to be manipulated into staying far longer than I should have. That’s okay, because I learned from it. I got out before I got married or got pregnant or purchased a home. I got out, and I took the time and I found myself once again. Stronger, more resilient, and less easily manipulated.

They say you can’t help who you fall in love with. Maybe this is true, but I do believe you can in some ways control who you stay in love with. Some areas of love are all feelings and emotions, but I do believe that the long-lasting love, the kind of love that survives job losses, relocations, miscarriages, babies, financial crisis, and all of life’s chaos and conflict, is the type of love that is conscious. It’s intentional. It’s two people who have made a choice to love each other. It’s two people who recognize the other’s love languages and each make an effort to give and receive love in the way that the other needs. It’s two people who have made a conscious choice to love the other, support the other, and most importantly respect the other. They understand that there will be turmoil, that there will be disagreements, that there will be hurt, that both individuals will make mistakes. This couple understands and accepts that these are all part of life – that to be together sacrifices must be made, compromises need to be shared, and that forgiveness and patience are regular acts in a successful relationship.

Not all love is meant to be forever. And that’s okay. Some love is meant to teach you what you really want in life, some is meant to teach you want you don’t want in life. Some love is there to support you through a rough patch, some is meant for you to support your partner through something of their own. I believe that some love comes into your life simply to teach you how to love, how to be loved in new and different ways, how to accept and welcome love into your life, and to teach you that you are worthy. Worthy of love, worthy of respect, worthy of sacrifice.

I recently went through the best 6-month relationship of my life followed by the best breakup of my life. I dated someone who I have been friends with in varying degrees of closeness for 13 years. In some ways being friends for so long first created an ease in our relationship, and in other ways it created a greater vulnerability for me, allowing someone who was already so important to me that much deeper into my heart and my soul. The risk was higher than any other relationship in that the loss of his friendship would devastate me if it failed. Not to mention that I’d have to face our mutual friends with yet another failed relationship, forcing both of us to face our shortcomings in a new light.

The risk was well worth the reward.

Some relationships are not meant to be forever. And this was one of them. And that’s okay. I left with more than I went in with, I’d like to think we both did. I like to think that this particular love worked out the way it did because we were meant to date for a short time to learn from each other and support each other. So that I could show him love in a way that no one else had, and to show him that he is worthy, and that any of his self-deprecating thoughts that we all battle, are lies. And in exchange he was meant to date me to support me through a very difficult transition of being unwell, trying new treatments that made me sicker than ever, and to remind me that I’m not alone. When it came to its natural ending point I don’t think anything could have gone better. We left better friends than we started as, we continue to teach each other to love and be loved, continue to support each other, and most importantly we never wavered in our respect for each other. This is the type of love that although may not be romantic love, will never die.

What if you could leave every relationship you have with more than you went in with? I left this relationship with a full heart of love and a soul full of gratitude, and most importantly, an incredible friend.

Next time you love, consider treating the person the way you would a campsite – leave it in better shape than you found it. And remember, you can never love too much or too kindly – especially if that love is towards yourself.