Have you ever heard the quote, “No man is worth your tears, and the only one who is will never make you cry”? I heard that piece of advice when I was young, and it sounded pretty great to me, so I took it to heart.

Photo Credit: *_Abhi_* Creative Commons

I set out looking for a man who would treat me the way I “deserved”.

To make a long story short, I didn’t find him.

Instead, I found a long string of romantic relationships that were both fun but painful while they lasted, and ended in dishonesty, drama and ultimately, failure. But when each of the relationships ended, I consoled myself: that wasn’t real love. Love wouldn’t hurt like that. Love wouldn’t be so hard.

It always made me feel better to think that “the man who wouldn’t ever make me cry” was still out there somewhere.

I would just have to keep looking for him.

Years later (in my late twenties) I met my husband.

Many things about him were different than the guys I had dated before, and the quality of our relationship was certainly different. But I’ll never forget the first major conflict we had, ending in tears on my part. We were sitting in the front seats of his Toyota Corolla in the Target parking lot.

I felt so defeated in that moment, and so infuriated. “You aren’t who I thought you were,” I wanted to tell him. “You were supposed to be different.”

But just as I was about to shake my head and say, “well… I guess this is it…” he reached his hand across the center console and put it on my knee. He said, “I know this is hard. But I’m not going anywhere. We’re in this together.” And that moment, marked by the Target Parking lot, would become infamous in our relationship.

It turned from the moment I thought our relationship would end to the moment I knew this was man was my husband.

Love is hard. Love hurts. But love sticks around.

We went to a marriage conference during the months we were engaged—a generous gift from my parents, a way of supporting us as we stepped into such an challenging new season of our lives—and one of the speakers at the conference said something that has stuck with us ever since.

It went something like this: dysfunctional marriages have strife, conflict, frustration, fear, sadness and betrayal—and no one ever talks about it. Functional marriages have strife, conflict, frustration, fear sadness and betrayal—but each person in the relationship shares freely and openly with the other.

Which only makes me think—great marriages are not easy marriages.

Strong love is not feel-good love, even though sometimes it does feel good. Strong love is love that stays open, admits fault, assumes the best, reaches across the console, says, “I’m hurt…” and keeps coming home.

Love is hard. But love stays close.

Love hurts, but love changes us.

A friend of mine is getting married soon, and the other day, as we were talking about her wedding, I told her: “I’m thrilled and excited for you. You will be so altered by the love of your husband.” My voice shook a little as I said it, and I saw her eyes become glassy and blue.

Part of me wished I could explain to her that, while it isn’t exactly how it sounds, it will still be wonderful. Then again, I could tell from the look on her face that she kind of already knew (and she’ll know more very soon).

Love is nothing like I thought it was.

It’s better.

But it hurts like hell.

I used to think loving people was pretty much like liking them.

And that if I didn’t like someone, or what they were doing, I couldn’t really love them. This also meant that if people didn’t “like” me, or something I was doing, it meant they weren’t loving me either. This idea of love was complicated and messy. It prevented me from truly loving people, and from receiving the love they were offering to me.

I couldn’t see love, and couldn’t find it, because I didn’t realize what it was.

I was so sad, and so lonely, waiting for love to show up.

Love hurts like hell.

And changing the way I see love—from someone who will “never make me cry” to someone who almost certainly will—has changed everything for me. I’m not waiting for love to show up anymore. I’m learning to let it in, to surrender to it. I’m learning to come out of hiding and live toward it, and into it. I’m seeing it all around me.

I’m letting it hurt.

Slowly, it’s leading me home.

12 comments on “Love Hurts Like Hell

  1. This is something that I am slowly learning… I have a hard time just letting things be the way they are, and I grasp and control and manipulate in order to “fix” things. I think it’s a common misconception that “love is easy” or “love is always good”. It actually sounds silly saying it, but really it’s what I’ve always believed deep down. I always thought, “love shouldn’t be this hard, or hurt this much”, but really it is bringing out the best in me by bringing out the worst. I am learning so much more about myself in the process. Thank you for being so honest, it helps me to be more honest too.

  2. This is definitely one of my favorite posts from you Allison. Everything about this is so real and raw.

    Thank you for being transparent and reminding us that love, does hurt, but real love remains through it.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!


  3. Thanks for writing this. My fiance and I are getting married in the fall, and you’ve summed up something we’ve been struggling with and learning over the course of our relationship. We’ve both had to change what we expect out of our relationship as we’ve gone along. It’s that commitment to grow and change and be hurt along the way that makes a relationship stand the test of time.

  4. This makes a lot of sense. Thank you for sharing about how you’ve grown in a deeper understanding about love. I needed to hear this.
    Also wanted to say thank you for your writings (book Packing Light, blog posts, etc) and pursuing your passion.
    “…Confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil.1.6

    God bless!

  5. These words are so helpful. I often fall into the trap of thinking that if someone loved me, it would always feel like they “liked” me and vice versa. Maybe because my fear says that if they don’t “like” me in this moment, then obviously I’m not worth it. I also tend to want to run away when things aren’t feeling good. But, that’s not healthy nor realistic, and that’s not love. Just because people have ran away when things got hard in the past does not mean that it’s definitive of what love is. No more waiting for love to show up. Thanks, Allison.

  6. Allison,

    Thank you for this post! I sometimes get so bogged down by what I think love is supposed to look like. You made me feel so much better. I have only found your blog recently, but it has quickly become one of my favorites. For this season of my life, you offer a lot of insight I can relate to.


  7. people say love hurts like hell but you guys put yourself in these predicament and blame everybody else and God but refuse to blame yourself and you can see the signs a mile away but refuse to look at them

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