07 Mar Unrequited Love
‘Unrequited Love’ or ‘one-sided love’ is the love that is not openly reciprocated or understood as such by the beloved. The beloved may not be aware of the admirer’s deep and strong romantic affection, or may consciously reject it. Most of today’s youth suffer from this unrequited love. But we will be doing injustice to the concept of love, if we think that unrequited love exists only in the relationship between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. There are also other areas where unrequited love goes abegging.
Teenage hormones cause physical growth and sexual development carrying the teens into adulthood. As these chemicals take hold of the teens’ physique, their emotions, moods and sexual feelings become much stronger. These changes are quite natural and they are not a cause for alarm once they are under control. If not, they produce havoc in the lives of the youth. ‘Love’ flows freely in the minds of the youngsters and there is a phenomenal growth in the attraction towards the opposite sex in this stage. Cinemas, TV serials, magazines and novels add fuel to fire. One of the prominent results during this period is a temptation to fall in love. But it is more an infatuation than love. And when the partner doesn’t reciprocate it ends in unrequited love.
There is no other pain that stings more sharply than the pain of unrequited love. It is a pain without relief — many sleepless nights with hot tears flowing. It results in mood swing, loss of self-esteem, loss of grades, depression and even contemplation of suicide. The best way to avoid this unrequited love is not to fall in love. Shakespeare in his famous play The Twelfth Night said, “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better”. So the best axiom would be ‘never seek love’ and waste your time when you have better things to do. And that would save the youngsters a lot of mental agony.
The problem with the present day youth is that they think that love exists only between a boy and a girl — Eros Love. This is also an erotic love, a selfish kind of love as it is associated with sexual love. This kind of love is based on physical traits. It seeks to conquer first and then to control. Unless it is redeemed by our Lord, it ends up being possessive. God, the author of physical attraction between man and woman, never intended love to be selfish. This love is meant to be preserved in a husband- wife relationship and it is essential for any healthy marriage. So the best advice for the youngsters: “Wait till God shows you a partner in His own time.”
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…. Prov. 3: 1 – 8
He has made everything beautiful in its time…. Prov. 3: 11
During our student days, God wants us to concentrate on studies and on propagating His love to fellow students in our free times and not to be a victim of unrequited love.
Storge is family love that bonds among mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers. Jacob’s love for his sons, the strong love Martha and Mary had for their brother Lazarus and the threesome had for Jesus are apt examples for storge love. A mother showers on her child two decades of selfless love – enduring labour pain, feeding, bathing, laundering soiled clothes, instructing, correcting, teaching and much more. But the child mostly forgets this motherly love with the coming of adulthood, and the relationship becomes merely formal, devoid of warmth. Mother’s love goes unrequited. “Honour your father and your mother…” (Ex. 20:12) and “Children, obey your parents…. (Eph. 6:1) are the commandments of our Lord. Jesus not only preached, but also practised as He obeyed His earthly parents. If only we children realized that the love of our parents goes unrequited and started reciprocating their love by honouring and obeying them, we can create a heaven on earth.
This is a unique kind of love between our friends and people in a fellowship or a Church. This is the most general form of love in the Bible, encompassing love for fellow humans, care, respect and compassion for people in need. Such love, too, is unrequited. There are leaders, mentors and role-models who spend all their lives doing good, and then meet no return. Many hearts break because of ingratitude. Young Christians should learn to reciprocate the love showered on them by their seniors since this is lacking in the present scenario.
Agape love is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional and the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. It perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for His Father, His disciples and the world. This unmotivated and spontaneous love of our Lord goes unrequited many a time. Like the rich young ruler who came to Jesus but went away sad because he could choose between Jesus and riches, we too fail to give our first love to our Saviour. Though saved we still nourish some of our ego, our self-interest, our self-improvement, our self-esteem, our time, our treasures and our talents and give only the second place to our Lord who has loved us so much that He died and rose again in order to save us.
What greater unrequited love can there be in Israel’s failure to love God in spite of His deliverance from their slavery and hardship by giving them His shepherding care, comfort, protection and provision? “… what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8. But those stiff-necked people rejected God and started paying their allegiance to other gods. We, in the present times, are no way better than those Israelites. We have fully comprehended the supreme sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on the cross and have surrendered our lives to Him. But how many times have we betrayed Him like Judas, by disobeying Him, and not living up to His standard? “If you love me, you will obey what I command” declares Jh. 14:15 and “This is love for God: to obey His commandments” exhorts I Jn. 5:3; but we prove that we don’t love Him by our disobedience.
Jesus asked Simon a third time “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” When Peter answered in the affirmative, Jesus asked him to feed His lambs (Jn. 21:17). How sincere are we in feeding the young lambs who have tasted the love of God? We are too sluggish to go the extra mile in order to feed the starving students by the Word. We are not prepared to come out of our comfort zone and visit an EU/EGF cell. By such actions we fail to reciprocate the supreme love of our Lord and Saviour. I Jh. 4:21 says: “Whoever loves God must love his brother”. We disrespect God’s love by our superficial love in our fellowship. We rob our Creator by our tithes and offerings and thus the agape love of God goes unrequited. (Mal. 3:8)
It is high time we evaluated our love for God and others in our fellowship and find out where we fail in loving Him back. Unrequited love is not only found in popular man-woman love affairs but also in many other areas. Let us pay heed to such relationships too.
Dr Richard Samuel
The author, a retired professor lives in Chennai and is involved in UESI ministries and Publication Trust. His Wife Ahalya and children are also involved in UESI Ministries.