Selfless love: To love someone with all your heart and not expect anything in return. Does it really exist? Tan Lili reckons it doesn’t – and shouldn’t.
The pop star recently surprised one of her Instagram followers by replying the fan’s question on unrequited love with this lengthy piece of advice:
I think we grow up thinking the only love that counts as true love is the kind that lasts forever or is fully realized. When you have a broken heart, the first thing a stranger will ask is ‘how long were you two together?’ As if your pain can be determined by how long you were with someone. Or if you were with them at all. I don’t think that’s how it works. I think unrequited love is just as valid as any other kind. It’s just as crushing and just as thrilling. No matter what happens in this situation, I want you to remember that what you are doing is selfless and beautiful and kind. You are loving someone purely because you love them, not because you think you’ll ever have your affections reciprocated. You are admiring something for its beauty, without needing to own it. Feel good about being the kind of person who loves selflessly. I think someday you’ll find someone who loves you in that exact same way.”
I never thought I’d say this, but that’s some pretty solid advice coming from Swifty, who isn’t exactly role-model material as far as relationships are concerned.
But her words about selfless love – to love someone wholeheartedly without expecting his reciprocation – got me thinking, Does it really exist? Should it?
For this dog, it certainly does. If every living creature were capable of such love, this world would’ve been a flawlessly beautiful place for one and all. But obviously I’m talking about the romantic love between two humans – and humans are far from perfect. Not that there’s anything wrong with being unable to love selflessly, because that’s exactly what makes true love feel so right. Here’s why.
First things first, I think a lot of us confound selfless love and unconditional love. The definition of the former is to love regardless of your personal needs; that of the latter, to love without conditions. We’ve seen portrayals of selfless devotion in countless movies, but in the real world, I dare say it’s an inconceivable notion. Before I met my boyfriend, I had my fair share of encounters with unrequited love, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for my affections to be reciprocated. But being human, we have our limits. Indeed, we can love without expecting anything in return, but at the same time we also have needs to be met. Over time, we’d have nothing left to give, and all that remains is a void in our heart. This is why we move on from unrequited love – because our needs are not being fulfilled. Suffice it to say, the idea of selfless love is even more destructive in a relationship. To quote Audrey Hepburn, “I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.”
At the end of the day, it all boils down to being careful with your gift of love. There’s no denying that unrequited love sucks. You give, you hurt, you learn. And when you find someone who gives as much as he takes, who fulfils your needs as you fulfil his, you’ll know it’s the kind of precious love you hold on to with every fibre of your being. I’m glad I found mine.
Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.