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Is it Really Better to Have Loved and Lost, than Never to Have Loved at All?

Once, I jokingly told my partner that we need to die in a plane crash, so that we can die at the exact same moment. I don't know how I would live without the one I love so much. And yet, I know I would learn to do just that.

No matter who we love and lose in life, somehow our hearts learn to carry on. Mother, father, brother, sister, lover, friends. We lose them all with time that passes us all by. Even if "til death do us part" really lasts, it still ends with death. Unless you believe in an afterlife, or reincarnation... then we just wait to see the ones we love again, and hope.

I am a little afraid to go home. I have been mortal, and some part of me is mortal yet. I am no longer like the others, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but I now I do. I regret. ~The Last Unicorn

I heard sad, wistful music playing through a neighbor's window, and it made me think of love and loss. I think love and loss are always tied up together, in some way. When we lose those we love, it carves out little pieces of our souls, changing us forever. But would we rather the reverse? Would we rather never love at all? Is it just too painful?

I don't know.

I have loved much, and lost much. There are things that I regret in relationships in the past, but I never regret loving. Love makes you grow and change into a better version of yourself. It helps you to see the world differently. A new love gives you wings, and for a time you feel like you could fly. You feel like you could subsist on love alone.

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Our love and our loss are often inextricable. Love brings both joy and heartbreak. Peace and pain. Hope and fear. Perhaps what we fear most is losing that which we love.

I think many of us would rather love and lose than never to love at all. That is why the quote from Tennyson resonates so much with people, and is so widely tossed around, especially after break-ups.

However, according to Psychology Today, this may not actually be the case:

If you define love narrowly as romantic love, operationalized as marriage (though I surely don't), then Tennyson has been felled by science — the data show that it's just not true. In happiness, health, longevity, and just about everything else that has been studied (except maybe wealth), people who have always been single do better than people who were previously married (divorced or widowed).

If you have loved and lost yourself, what do you think? Would you trade the experience of love for anything else in the world? Or, fleeting though it may have been, was walking through the fire worth it?

For thousands of years, people have immortalized great loves in stories, poems, songs and movies. Finding love is something many people spend lifetimes seeking after. Look at the success of online dating apps. If people can't meet someone in their daily life, they are still looking for the experience of love.

This, even though we know that roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. We all think that our love will stand the test of time, that we will be the ones who make it. We want love at all costs, even if we have data to tell us that it isn't going to end well.

Humans are social beings by nature, and love is one of the things that binds us together in our common humanity. It doesn't have to be just romantic love either. There is compassion for our fellow man. There is the love of friends, or between a parent and a child.

Although love can, and often does, end in tears, we still want it all the same.


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