To me there is a difference between loving someone and being in love with them. Loving someone is fairly easy for me to do. I love deeply and easily. I definitely love many of my friends and, of course, my children. Being in love with someone is a different sensation. It’s eros rather than philia, agape or storge.
I have loved many men and I have been in love with many men in my life. The love for those men never leaves. It fades into the background and no longer is so dominant in my heart, but I will always love the men who have a place in my heart even after they have hurt me deeply and/or we have parted ways.
However, being in love with another person eventually fades. It’s not just lust. It’s a deeper emotion than that. It’s the passion and excitement that we share when we are in a sexual and/or emotional romantic relationship with another human. When the relationship ends, it’s this part that usually hurts so much: letting go of the “in love” with that man before I was ready to end things between us.
For me, the way I know that I am no longer in love with a past partner is when I can be happy for them in their new relationships. I no longer wish I was with them, though I may still love the vivid memories I have of the moments we shared. However, I eventually reach a point where I am easily able to say that I am glad they have moved on, and more importantly, I am glad they have found another.
There’s no time scale for when falling out of love happens for me. Sometimes it takes weeks. Sometimes it takes years. I don’t know if the depth of my love for that man factors in. Sometimes it seems completely random as to why it’s easier to fall out of love with a man than with others. However, when I reach that point of being happy that the person is loving another, then I know I have healed from losing them in my life. I love the way Lee Ann Womack says it:
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed…
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I have reached that point with all of my past loves except the most recent. My heart still hurts over him. I know we can’t be together again for so many reasons, but if I were to see him with another woman now, I would hurt. I’m so ready for my heart to reach that place of peace where I can honestly say to him, “I am so happy you found her and that she is making you happy again.” Each day I get closer to reaching that point. I hope that it happens soon because I truly do want him to be happy, and I want to be happy about him being in love with someone else when he finds her.