Why “I Love You More Than You Know” Doesn’t Always Comfort You
Some of us, maybe all of us, have experienced an anguishing, unrequited love.
It happens when you have your first crush. It happens when you have a relationship with someone who just isn’t that “into you.”
It happens when you are in a long-term relationship — even a marriage — with someone who just drifts away. It happens even when there is a betrayal, and someone you love breaks your heart.
Sometimes, it just happens with “the one who got away.”
How do you know this is “The ONE?”
Once upon a time, I loved a man for years and years. He and I were both single when we met. At that time, though, I was still in my early twenties and painfully shy. I was insecure and vulnerable in ways that I had just not yet wrapped my head around. He was a bit more confident of himself, but was also young, and experimenting with love.
We were in those developmental years where we are just trying to learn who we are, what we want, and who, if anyone is “the one.”
For all these years, though we were friends, I had a painful crush on him. I’ll call him Jeff. I felt that if Jeff just gave me a chance, he would find that we were equals in character, intellect, creativity, socio-economic match, and so on. I thought, eventually, Jeff and I would see that in one another there was a soul mate there.
But Jeff never gave me that chance. He was in an on-again, off-again, relationship with a woman with whom he went to University. It was clear that he cared a great deal about her, but he did not want to settle down with her.
At the same time, in a scenario that is overly familiar to anyone who loved and lost, my bestie, Deb, (another woman who was also in unrequited love), and I would have long talks. In these fantasy sessions, we would hatch schemes try to invent plans that landed the boys we crushed so badly on. I now see these sessions as useless and heart-breaking. We never actually saw those boys, we just wasted lots of hours talking about them.
Meanwhile Jeff and his on again, off again, girlfriend were slowly bonding.
“Deb” I asked, “What does she have that I don’t have?” I would sigh uselessly.
“Jeff.” Deb would answer wryly.
At the time we would laugh that bittersweet laugh familiar to anyone who knows this feeling. But it revealed upon later review, that instead of getting the courage to let Jeff know my feelings, I wallowed in insecurity and heartbreak.
Because of this, and because I never knew for sure whether Jeff was “on” or “off” with his girlfriend, I held back and gave them space. Meanwhile, other available single men who were not at all so reserved courted me. I was more or less groomed by the smoothest of them.
For almost seven years of a cheating and even sometimes, beating, marriage, I let myself get sucked into a relationship that clearly was not “the one.”
How do you know this is the one? The answer is you don’t. You can’t find the one without having an opportunity to present your whole being.
The end of soul mates
During all this time, nearly a decade total, I loved and pined for Jeff.
One day, laundry day, we were out and about. He suddenly grabbed me passionately. He literally scooped me off the floor and into his arms. We shared our first kiss.
That day came and went.
He married his girlfriend. They adopted a child. They had everything I had always dreamed of, and more.
Despite all of this, Jeff would call me sometimes, and I maintained the role of “just friends.” We even hung out, once or twice. I was a struggling reporter, and he tired to give me emotional support about my writing. He also knew of the rumors of my husband’s affairs. I think he wanted to be there for me, but wanted clear boundaries about romance. The barriers were clear. We never violated them.
If you have been in love, and you can tell someone also wants to be with you, but can’t, you know this feeling too. We did not talk about it. We just looked at one another’s eyes and talked about other things. Mostly jokes. We used humor to diffuse every bit of the longing that would never see the light of day.
Without that light, if there is a soul mate in there, the spark will never get out.
For Jeff and I, this stage was the end of our soul mated, fate, if there had ever been one.
After my husband abandoned our marriage, I decided to have a new life. I moved back to Washington State, and I entered graduate school to study psychology.
“I love you more than you will ever know” He said.
Years after, I went to Denver on business and saw all the old engineering gang of geeks.
At a conference, between presentations, I somehow ended up talking with Jeff in the hotel lobby.
His words, “I love you more than you will ever know.” Stunned me. I honestly cannot remember a single other moment of that entire day.
Maybe you have had someone say this to you. At first it was a balm that soothed my heart. It was “love” after all, not past tense, not “loved.” Could he and I have been a couple after all?
Jeff died soon after. I never saw him again. As the years flew, I came to see that one soothing moment differently. All that time? He really did care, but couldn’t tell me? I could have told him my feelings and not been rejected?
Laundry day, I pondered. Did I not kiss him back passionately enough? To this day, no other man has literally swept me off my feet like that!
I came to question every past interaction. Every buried comment. Every unspoken vulnerability. Every hidden heartbeat of unrealized love.
Now I find, the words don’t comfort me as they once had. I have come to more emotional maturity. I realize that both of us in the old days were too afraid of rejection to have the courage it takes to make a real, solid relationship work.
If only he had TOLD me, I sigh.
If there is a universe where our love would have worked out, we will never know.
But this, I do know. If you want that universe, you and “The ONE” have to create it yourselves with bold actions and hesitant hearts that carefully, and cautiously, manifest that love into being.
Unless you let it out, love that is hidden in a locked-up heart will stay locked in, shrouded in a dark and quiet place.
It will stay with you forever.