Skip to content

The Spirituality of Unrequited Love

By John Mallon
© 1993, 2005 by John Mallon

Unrequited love feels like death. In fact, there are times when death would seem preferable to the unrelenting pain and frustration. There are those, even in the Church, who would seek to minimize or make light of this most unique agony: "Oh, don't worry about it! Women (or men) are like street cars, there's another one along any minute!" Like Hell. I don't think there is any other pain quite like that of unrequited love, especially when rejection is involved, although that might even be preferable to being strung along with hopes raised and dashed with punishing regularity. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a wish fulfilled is the tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12)

Even the death of a loved one has a clean finality to it, and, normally, is not a deliberate choice on the part of the other to be free of you. Advice from others all sounds cliché. Especially from those well meaning but insensitive vocational terrorists who zoom in with, "Well, maybe God wants you for himself! Have you considered that possibility?" As if you haven't. Besides, someone heartbroken from rejection, grief, and loss is in no mood to have the joys of celibacy preached at them. The subject of vocation is holy ground where we take off our shoes and tread softly, not go charging in with golf cleats and glib answers. Especially when it's someone else's vocation. Unrequited love is real valid agony. And no one has a right to rob you of it so cheaply, especially if they're stacking false guilt over "not following God's will" on top of it. It must be endured. And can be.

Unrequited love is the very pain of God. The Crucifix is a snapshot of unrequited love. God doesn't minimize this pain. Suffering it can be a profound identification with Christ's pain over the lack of appreciation He receives from His Bride. Suffering can be an expression of love and profound sanity. Without love all is demonic chaos. In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis said he never imagined grief felt so much like fear. And so it should. Grief follows separation and echoes the ultimate calamity of separation from God. As the unity of man and woman in one flesh mirrors the image and likeness of God, so too the separation of man from woman conjures the cruelty and fragmentation of Hell. But some loves must die, if they are not from God they are not really loves anyway, but still it hurts, like Hell. All death hurts like Hell, because God did not make it. (See Wisdom 1:13-14) But He did redeem it by entering into our separations.

_____________________

This article originally appeared October 14, 1993, in the Troubadour, the student Newspaper of Franciscan University of Steubenville. It also appears in the unpublished collection Common Sense Spirituality: A Catholic Guide to Avoiding Spiritual Nonsense, by John Mallon

Contact

John Mallon
http://www.catholic.org OK, US
John Mallon - Author,

Email

johnmallon@cox.net

Keywords

Unrequited love, spirituality, heartbreak, relationships, break-ups

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.