Also, I noticed that love could make you someone you thought you were not. I was under the impression that I was not a jealous person. If you had asked me, I would have told you that possessiveness was a sign of insecurity, not of love. Hell, I would have said more than that: I would have told you that no one can hold on to anyone, that a good relationship is one you choose, every day, and I might have, after a couple of drinks, said something like "If you love it, set it free." I might have, if you had gotten hold of me in my willful youth (before I was 40), said that monogamy was a holdover from the days when women were chattel (and died young, making 60 years of fidelity not only unnecessary but unimaginable) and when men needed to know which baby was theirs so they could drag home only the necessary number of mastodons. I was known to say that love is not a pie. (And now I say, "Well, maybe not, but time and energy are and it is possible that there is only so much genuine intimacy a person can support, or even tolerate, in one life. And the heir-and-a-spare approach definitely trims away the intimacy.")

I'll spare you the details, but I understand jealousy now. I understand that there are things one imagines that make the ninth circle of hell seem like nothing more than a long line at the deli. I understand that one can sit at home for a few hours that seem like a few years, and I have come to appreciate Judith Viorst's words: "It is true love because...when he is late for dinner and I know he must be either having an affair or lying dead in the middle of the street, I always hope he's dead."

So I already knew that love is hard. And that it makes you crazy. And it brings you in touch with parts of yourself of which you would have been happy to remain ignorant.

What I hadn't understood, until recently, is that sometimes love is not enough. And that is the worst news-from-the-universe I have heard for some time. Love is not enough to lead depressed people to happiness. It is not enough to make men who really don't want babies want them. And it is not enough to make women who really want babies stop wanting them. It is not enough to make people who need passion settle for companionship, and it is not enough to make addicts give up whatever they are addicted to. Love stretches us, but time often snaps us back to our original shape. Love takes us further than we thought we could go, but it does not take us past the limits of our nature. And that is a hard thing to know. 

Keep Reading
What really attracts us to another?
How to leap into love
Getting married: The strategic approach


Next Story