Don’t Apologize For Loving Someone – Not Ever

James Russell Lingerfelt’s note: We’ve received a lot of private messages from broken people. Hurting. This blog entry is dedicated to them.

We can love, love, love but sometimes that love isn’t returned. That’s not our fault. To love or not to love is a choice. We chose to love. They chose not to. This does not mean we are unloveable or unworthy of love. We’re not idiots, fools, or weak for loving.

Rather, we have courage. Because we chose to be vulnerable and self-sacrificing; a requirement for love. And when it was over, though the echoes of the painful experiences reverberate in the depths of our being, we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and we keep pressing onward.

I’ve made it a rule in my personal life to never apologize for loving people, even if that love is never returned. To be unloving is the other person’s problem, not mine.

As my grandmother use to tell me, “At the end of your life, the only things you’ll regret are 1) Not taking more risks and 2) Not being more loving toward others.” She died at 94 years and those were some of her final thoughts. Powerful.

The following letter is from an eighty year old grandfather to his son, Clayton “Finn” Fincannon. After a relationship ends between he and his first love “Eden” during his senior year of college in California, Finn visits home in Tennessee.  

At night, beside a fire, Finn recounts the story to his grandfather. The next morning, Finn prepares to return to California to finish his last semester of college. The letter awaits him by the door. Whatever feelings arise when you hear the word, “God,” understand the cultural upbringing of the characters.

This comes from the novel, The Mason Jar.

Dear Finn,

I know right now, all that is visible is seen through the lenses of loss and pain. So, I’m not sure the words I say to you will resonate. But know that feelings just are. Experience them. Don’t deny them or push them away.

If you do, it will come out through other avenues like short-tempers and sharp answers to friends and loved ones who don’t deserve to be mistreated.

We do not deny our experiences, good or bad. We must embrace them. They are a part of who we are. The point is to keep from dwelling on the past or holding on to the bad times. This way, we don’t lead ourselves into resentment, cynicism and bitterness.

If we want to get angry and scream at God because we think it’s His fault, that’s okay. He can handle our anger. God might not appear to care, but He does. He promises us that. We can give up on Him and walk away, but how much better off will we be?

You might believe that you must stop loving Eden, but that’s not true. We can love even when we know that love will never be returned. We are allowed to love someone even if that person is gone. What we miss is their presence, but that doesn’t mean we must stop loving them.

As Maclean wrote, it is those who we love the most who so often elude us. But we can still love them. We can love them completely, without complete understanding.

Loving is not the same as holding on because “holding on” implies that we hope the loved one will come to their senses and return. Love is an action based on free choice despite the consequences.

Love only becomes painful when it demands something in return. And though it may take time, you will find joy in loving those who might not even be aware of your love.

Understand, son, that we can only help those who have hit rock bottom when we ourselves have seen existence through that same lens. Therefore, you can use the pain you’ve experienced to ease the pain in others.

This does not mean God purposefully inflicts pain or is the author of loss, nor does it mean that every time we experience loss or pain that God is behind the cause. But it does mean that God can take the bad things and turn them into beautiful things. But that takes time. It cannot happen overnight.

I’m sorry that I have rambled on and on, but I sometimes must write out my thoughts before I share them with you. In my old age, it helps me articulate what I want to say.

Know Clayton, I love you. Your parents love you, your brother loves you, and above all, God loves you. Dwell on these things. Hang in there and stay encouraged. As the old saying goes, “This too will pass.”

-Grandpa

Read another popular post: Beautiful Advice From A Divorced Man, After 16 Years Of Marriage

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Did you like this article? Buy 
The Mason Jar, a coming of age love story from the male perspective by James Russell Lingerfelt. The novel helps readers find healing after severed relationships. 

Alabama Irish, the sequel to The Mason Jar, is now available. Buy it now! This coming of age love story teaches readers the necessity of honesty and openness in the pursuit of loving, long-lasting relationships.


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9 comments

  • Robert Walker

    Robert Walker Florida

    A friend sent me to your article. It is as if you were speaking to me. I love someone who doesn't return that love and right out rejected me and I found my self apologizing for it. I was hurt not knowing what I had done. I apologized for month until I blew up, in anger. She was going to listen to me I wanted answers and had none yet I was expected to pretend everything was fine it wasn't , I wasn't I was devastated and for some one who says they love to just ignore you and turn their back to you was a pain I just could no longer bear.i made her talk to me while it took a while to get an honest answer for her it opened up a dialogue which she had shut off.we talked for three days. The outcome well she understands how hurt I was and we talk now she wanted to remain friends I think it may be possible if communication remains open. Do I still love her yes I do. Do I expect us to be together no I do not think that will ever happen.She is afraid to make the leap because of past relationships, it's a shame but it's the way things are.

    A friend sent me to your article. It is as if you were speaking to me. I love someone who doesn't return that love and right out rejected me and I found my self apologizing for it. I was hurt not knowing what I had done. I apologized for month until I blew up, in anger. She was going to listen to me I wanted answers and had none yet I was expected to pretend everything was fine it wasn't , I wasn't I was devastated and for some one who says they love to just ignore you and turn their back to you was a pain I just could no longer bear.i made her talk to me while it took a while to get an honest answer for her it opened up a dialogue which she had shut off.we talked for three days. The outcome well she understands how hurt I was and we talk now she wanted to remain friends I think it may be possible if communication remains open. Do I still love her yes I do. Do I expect us to be together no I do not think that will ever happen.She is afraid to make the leap because of past relationships, it's a shame but it's the way things are.

  • Scarlet

    Scarlet

    My love was amazing! our love was extraordinary. I used to be bitter and cynic with man untill I met him. The first time I saw him after talking on fb a month, I felt how all my broken pieces were coming together. I felt I was finally healed and I could finally look for hope everywhere. I healed completely. It was really amazing. i saw something in him that made me feel safe. For awhile, it has been the greatest thing ever. But then things started to change. He started to become the ordinary type of man you can see at every corner. His sweeteness, his kindness, his atention started to fade. The only reason we are still together is because he told me I quit to quickly when there are bad moments, that right now he can't give that much as he used to and he doesn't know why but that we should stay strong and wait for things to come around. I really don't think I can hold on like this anymore. There are two things that destroy any love and passion; lie and coldness. He did them both. It wasn't a serious lie, but a half truth is still a lie. I talk to him everyday and I don't feel him there anymore. I send him cute things and he forgets to look at them. His ignorance is really painful. He want me to stay strong and support him untill this moment will pass, but he really is making my work so hard. I miss him. Even if I talk to him everyday, I miss him. I miss the man who once made me so happy cause honestly I can't even remember how to be happy with him. I know I shouldn't apologize for loving him, but all I really want is for my feelings to go away so that everything becomes easier. I know he says he loves me, but love should make you feel great. Words mean nothing when ignorance takes place. I don't thinkg there was something wrong I did, but I do know that he forgot trying to know me, he's in a comfort zone right now and I can't handle the pain he's inflicting on me anymore. It's so sad how a great love got in such an ordinary grey place. I really hope this will pass soon no matter the way it will. Your story did make me cry, but these were tears of hope. This will pass. Hopefully!

    My love was amazing! our love was extraordinary. I used to be bitter and cynic with man untill I met him. The first time I saw him after talking on fb a month, I felt how all my broken pieces were coming together. I felt I was finally healed and I could finally look for hope everywhere. I healed completely. It was really amazing. i saw something in him that made me feel safe. For awhile, it has been the greatest thing ever. But then things started to change. He started to become the ordinary type of man you can see at every corner. His sweeteness, his kindness, his atention started to fade. The only reason we are still together is because he told me I quit to quickly when there are bad moments, that right now he can't give that much as he used to and he doesn't know why but that we should stay strong and wait for things to come around. I really don't think I can hold on like this anymore. There are two things that destroy any love and passion; lie and coldness. He did them both. It wasn't a serious lie, but a half truth is still a lie. I talk to him everyday and I don't feel him there anymore. I send him cute things and he forgets to look at them. His ignorance is really painful. He want me to stay strong and support him untill this moment will pass, but he really is making my work so hard. I miss him. Even if I talk to him everyday, I miss him. I miss the man who once made me so happy cause honestly I can't even remember how to be happy with him. I know I shouldn't apologize for loving him, but all I really want is for my feelings to go away so that everything becomes easier. I know he says he loves me, but love should make you feel great. Words mean nothing when ignorance takes place. I don't thinkg there was something wrong I did, but I do know that he forgot trying to know me, he's in a comfort zone right now and I can't handle the pain he's inflicting on me anymore. It's so sad how a great love got in such an ordinary grey place. I really hope this will pass soon no matter the way it will. Your story did make me cry, but these were tears of hope. This will pass. Hopefully!

  • Lacey

    Lacey

    I loved a man that wasn't in love with me. We dated for two years. I was patient and waited to hear the "I love you" but he never said it. I asked him if he was in love with me and he went on about what is love, how he'd only say it to the person he truly knows he'll marry. I can't believe I stayed with him waiting. He was sweet and we had fun together. Thinking back now I can tell he wasn't in love with me despite his sweet gestures and our friendship. I ended the relationship. Why didn't he end it with me if he felt he didn't love me? I gave him the chance to end it after that conversation. He said he really cared about me, wanted to make me happy and to continue to be together. I experienced this rejection. It's been painful. To know that I put my heart and soul into this relationship only to have him not return the same feelings. I'm coping and moving on with my life. We deeply are about each other and I'll always love him.

    I loved a man that wasn't in love with me. We dated for two years. I was patient and waited to hear the "I love you" but he never said it. I asked him if he was in love with me and he went on about what is love, how he'd only say it to the person he truly knows he'll marry. I can't believe I stayed with him waiting. He was sweet and we had fun together. Thinking back now I can tell he wasn't in love with me despite his sweet gestures and our friendship. I ended the relationship. Why didn't he end it with me if he felt he didn't love me? I gave him the chance to end it after that conversation. He said he really cared about me, wanted to make me happy and to continue to be together. I experienced this rejection. It's been painful. To know that I put my heart and soul into this relationship only to have him not return the same feelings. I'm coping and moving on with my life. We deeply are about each other and I'll always love him.

  • zorinpuii

    zorinpuii India

    THis is beautiful :) :)...

    THis is beautiful smile smile...

  • DMC

    DMC

    This was an encouraging thing to read for me. I have been wrestling with love I still hold for my high school/college sweetheart. She is married now and so am I, and I have been trying to understand if it is wrong to still care so deeply about her. It doesn't feel wrong, since I also love my wife (although differently, if that makes any sense) and I choose to only act on that love toward my wife. This rings so true to me, "We can love even when we know that love will never be returned. We are allowed to love someone even if that person is gone. What we miss is their presence, but that doesn’t mean we must stop loving them." That last sentence is especially hard hitting. I love this other girl deeply still, and I miss her presence desperately and regret that I didn't know then what I know now, after reading books on marriage and love and having a much fuller understanding of what it all means. But to read here that it might be okay to still care about her even if that love has only a past and no future, that is the first comforting perspective I have heard. My wife will every ounce of effort I have in me, but it is so comforting to hear that I don't have to forget something I do not believe I am capable of forgetting in order to do so.

    This was an encouraging thing to read for me. I have been wrestling with love I still hold for my high school/college sweetheart. She is married now and so am I, and I have been trying to understand if it is wrong to still care so deeply about her. It doesn't feel wrong, since I also love my wife (although differently, if that makes any sense) and I choose to only act on that love toward my wife.

    This rings so true to me, "We can love even when we know that love will never be returned. We are allowed to love someone even if that person is gone. What we miss is their presence, but that doesn’t mean we must stop loving them." That last sentence is especially hard hitting. I love this other girl deeply still, and I miss her presence desperately and regret that I didn't know then what I know now, after reading books on marriage and love and having a much fuller understanding of what it all means. But to read here that it might be okay to still care about her even if that love has only a past and no future, that is the first comforting perspective I have heard.

    My wife will every ounce of effort I have in me, but it is so comforting to hear that I don't have to forget something I do not believe I am capable of forgetting in order to do so.

  • Erniesta

    Erniesta Africa, Zambia

    Am really touched and learned something. press on with more posts

    Am really touched and learned something. press on with more posts

  • Aaron

    Aaron Texas

    I married the love of my life but we are separated. I am trying so hard to get through to her and it's getting tiresome. I wish she would snap out of whatever she can't let go of and give our marriage a chance. I keep praying for her everyday and I hope that God will somehow change her heart so that she can live again. I don't understand why it is so hard for us to be together when we were meant to be. Honey, I love you unconditionally, it will never change. You are so much more than you think. I know you had a tough life, so did I my love. I'm not gonna leave you, I took vows. I hope you have a wonderful day Sweetheart...I love you Beautiful!

    I married the love of my life but we are separated. I am trying so hard to get through to her and it's getting tiresome. I wish she would snap out of whatever she can't let go of and give our marriage a chance. I keep praying for her everyday and I hope that God will somehow change her heart so that she can live again. I don't understand why it is so hard for us to be together when we were meant to be. Honey, I love you unconditionally, it will never change. You are so much more than you think. I know you had a tough life, so did I my love. I'm not gonna leave you, I took vows. I hope you have a wonderful day Sweetheart...I love you Beautiful!

  • LLL

    LLL Kentucky

    I was married to my best friend, my soul mate, my life partner. Omg. We were so in love and had been so for 10 years. Something extraordinary happened and that one circumstance broke us up. It wasn’t an affair but a family member. We not only still loved each other but we’re IN love with each other when we split. We both said and did some hurtful things during that split which I deeply regret. Well we did talk for a bit but again the family member interfered and he was gone. Shortly after he got a job in another state. His way of coping was to date other women but he quickly got in another relationship and fell for her. I’m still grieving and still love him as much as the day he left. I pray for him and I pray for god to take this pain away. He took care of me when I had cancer when we were just dating. I’ll always love him and cannot ever imagine loved by that deeply ever again. I hope in time I can just be happy for him because he really does deserve it. I just wish it were with me.

    I was married to my best friend, my soul mate, my life partner. Omg. We were so in love and had been so for 10 years. Something extraordinary happened and that one circumstance broke us up. It wasn’t an affair but a family member. We not only still loved each other but we’re IN love with each other when we split. We both said and did some hurtful things during that split which I deeply regret.
    Well we did talk for a bit but again the family member interfered and he was gone. Shortly after he got a job in another state. His way of coping was to date other women but he quickly got in another relationship and fell for her.
    I’m still grieving and still love him as much as the day he left. I pray for him and I pray for god to take this pain away.
    He took care of me when I had cancer when we were just dating. I’ll always love him and cannot ever imagine loved by that deeply ever again.
    I hope in time I can just be happy for him because he really does deserve it. I just wish it were with me.

  • kkk

    kkk

    I was married for 10 yrs. I cannot say that it was some crazy love from the beginning. It was more like something calm, no emotions, no feelings of warmth in your heart that you embrace. Dated for 5 years with breaks cause he wasnt sure if I love him, blaming me for not being too emotional and loving. We got married being immature people and not having the idea what marriage truly means. I didnt know what true love is at that time. During all these 10 years we had ups and downs, death of his mum, death of my dad, with support i got from him, travelling and IVF procedures together. During first 5 yrs of marriage its was good, just family routine like everyone else has. Another 5 yrs went bad cause of infertility, he was requiring a baby that I couldnt give. It was a conditional love while I kept on sticking to the marriage promises. At some point we couldnt endure the pain from loss and hopeless future without a child which was his dream. I left, to be precise. he asked me to leave.

    I was married for 10 yrs. I cannot say that it was some crazy love from the beginning. It was more like something calm, no emotions, no feelings of warmth in your heart that you embrace. Dated for 5 years with breaks cause he wasnt sure if I love him, blaming me for not being too emotional and loving. We got married being immature people and not having the idea what marriage truly means. I didnt know what true love is at that time. During all these 10 years we had ups and downs, death of his mum, death of my dad, with support i got from him, travelling and IVF procedures together. During first 5 yrs of marriage its was good, just family routine like everyone else has. Another 5 yrs went bad cause of infertility, he was requiring a baby that I couldnt give. It was a conditional love while I kept on sticking to the marriage promises. At some point we couldnt endure the pain from loss and hopeless future without a child which was his dream. I left, to be precise. he asked me to leave.

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