Love-Where Does It Go after a Break-up?

A certain character on a certain rerun of a certain TV show asked a puzzling question: “When you love someone, and you break up, where does the love go?” Thank you Carrie Bradshaw for the inspiration for this week’s post.

At first, this question is a little absurd. Love can’t go anywhere, Carrie. It’s a feeling. Feelings don’t have feet. But think about a relationship you’ve been in. You invested in it: time, emotion, energy. You developed a set of feelings for a new person that you never had before. And those are unique feelings, just for them. Now think about when the relationship ended (happy Monday morning, everybody). That unique set of feelings created for just that one person don’t disappear suddenly. They are left over with no place to direct themselves, nowhere to go. Love is left in an awkward position. Hovering around the person after the break-up, wanting to be used but having no one to use them on.

Thought of in that way, love’s ability to go or not go places makes perfect sense. And the direct answer to Miss Bradshaw’s question is that love doesn’t actually go anywhere at all. Instead, it sticks around and waits for us to do something with it. The question then is “What do I do with it?”

Many options here. It’s difficult to have a unique set of feelings being unused, so maybe you decide to use them on someone else that isn’t quite deserving but is convenient in proximity. Or you may channel the hovering love feelings into something else like obsessing over work, or traveling as much as possible–things that make you think you’re using the love that once was but when you’re lying in bed at night, you see it still faintly hovering.

So where’s the best place to leave love or take love when you can no longer send it to a significant other? Keeping it close and acknowledging its presence can be burdensome. But ignoring it only lasts until the pain comes back again later.

My best answer is that you let it stick around until it becomes just plain love again. Not love for that one person that’s no longer around. But its original form: the love humans are made of and live for. Easier said than done.

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36 thoughts on “Love-Where Does It Go after a Break-up?

  1. love never leaves. it haunts you when you want to shoot the arrow in someone’s direction but know it’s the last thing they want. then it hangs around in the back of your mind (burned in the back of yo’ mind – taylor swift!) when you aren’t in love but want to be. and then it comes full force when you cycle back into love again. the last one is the only one worth having.

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  2. I really love this! It puts into words a lot of the feelings I was too scared to express. Thank you! I think I am *finally* very close to the “just plain love” point. Yay! God is so good!

    Katie

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  3. I’ve never been through an actual breakup, but I have had similar experiences, and I think the best thing to “do” with all that love is to channel it somewhere else, by doing something for someone else. I have read – and have found in my own life – that the best way to get over hurt feelings is to start doing for others. It takes your mind off yourself, and you focus on the feelings and well-being of others rather than those of yourself. I think it’s also important to remember that these now unused feelings don’t just disappear overnight; it’s a long process to changing them into the “plain love” Andrea mentions.

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  4. After telling my husband, who has been emotionally abusing me for the past five years, that I wanted a divorce last week, I really needed this today. I’ve had an emotion that I’ve not been able to put my finger on, and I guess it is the love lingering around me. I’ve never been in such a situation in my life. You’ll always hear about how hard it is for abused women to get out of their situation, but you never realize how hard it is until you’re in it. The hardest part is the one who is abusing you is the person you promised in front of God to be with forever. And that love is still there, despite the abuse. Now that I told him he’s asked for a second chance but he’s not changed one bit. And that’s the hardest part. What do you do with that love indeed.

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    1. Hi Amy!

      I think that the best thing you can do, is just love him, but not in the way you´ve been love him until this day, but with the love´s God, probably he is dipress or passing through something he thinks you can´t help him. I believe God is powerful to restore your relationship. The only way is to surrender all to God and regonize that you can´t do this all alone… He wants you to know that He loves you and He loves your husband, He loves your family and if you just Let God takes control of your life and you marriage He will do more than you would ever could imagine. A marriage is not easy at all, life it is not easy, we have to take desicions every day every hour, but God can help you to take the right decision about everything, you just have to hear Him though His Word … i would tell you my thoughts about this, but i´m a human been, the only one who knows exactly how are you feeling, how is your situation and how to fix that out is just the One who created you .

      Please if you have a Bible, read it… Ask him that he speak to your heart, and transform your mind, talk to him as a friend, and hear what he wants you let you know about your problem though his word (Bible), you´ll see that he is good. As i told you, you have to love your husband with love´s God, but you need to been love by God firts, cause you can´t give such a love if you haven´t been love by Him with his unbelieveble kind of love.
      Theres is some pasages you can read, it´s going to bring peace to your heart:
      “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. ” Jeremiah 29.11

      “ Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you dand learn from Me, for I am gentle and elowly in heart, fand you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11.28

      “Love suffers long and is ekind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. ” 1 Corinthinans 13.4

      Psalm 127; proverbs 31; John 3.16… all The Book is full of real Love and wisdom… enjoy His love. “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, gand wait patiently for Him” Psalm 37

      Check this out… it could help… http://www.harvest.org/

      God bless u

      Joyce

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    2. Oops, not gone, God! On one more note, I forgot to mention to completely surrender your husband over to the Lord. Not because it’s some magical potion that makes it to where God can work. God can work regardless if we step aside or not. But when you step aside and say, “God, I can’t do this. Your will, not mine.” you allow Him to change YOU. And through your kind and gentle spirit, you will be a great witness to your husband. It’s going to take time. And it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. It won’t happen over night. My husband moved out 4 months ago. The Lord works so silently and delicately and beautifully. God is, in a way, a gentleman 🙂 and not forceful. When we become quiet and move out the way, He can be heard. Love your husband with Christ’s love. And watch as your life is transformed.

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      1. Well said, Natalie. Divorce causes many many more problems than it solves. Best to spend the energy on restoration than on brokenness. Amy, you can do so much to change your situation, as Natalie has stated. Please give God a chance to restore you and your marriage. if you walk away, you’ll never know the power of a God who can heal beyond our wildest dreams.

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      2. Greg & Natalie, I won’t and can’t speak for Amy. I can speak for myself however. I have been divorced since 2004. You are right, it is an absolutely painful and terrible process which I will not and do not advice to anyone, if possible. On the other hand, in my case I couldn’t cope anymore. I know that God hates breaking up and that made the whole situation only worse; I didn’t want to hurt my relation with my Lord and Savior. But still …. it happened. I highly respect those people who can hold on.
        What I missed in my divorce were friends who could cry with me, support me, embrace me and love me. Just too many were busy in giving me the advice to surrender it all to God. Which was right of course (I did KNOW that already), but completely of track on the other hand. Showing Gods love is sometimes more powerful then teaching Gods love. I am quite sure that you are upmost compassionate with Amy and others. However, when the ‘divorce’ phase / discussion kicks in, there is little room to be taught. Be blessed!
        One last remark @Greg. You are completely right (again ;-)) about the power of God you don’t experience inside an healed marriage. I guess you don’t suggest that God doesn’t heal beyond our wildest dreams after a broken marriage. I am very much in that process and I experienced that God this some amazing things with and for me. Take care!

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      3. Always read what you write. “… the power of God you don’t experience inside an healed marriage…” should be: “… the power of God you do experience inside an healed marriage …”

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    3. Amy, I left a comment for you down below not realizing that I could reply specifically to this one. But please know I’m praying for you, my friend. God loves us so much. Start reading in John and work your way through the New Testament. Get to know Jesus on such a personal level. I especially love reading through Romans. Talk about a man who suffered for the sake of Christ…you will love getting to know Paul as well. Stay strong, love. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!

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    4. Hi Amy,

      You must go through some terrible emotions these days. I myself broke up with my wife in 2004. It has been a very difficult time. Not only during the divorce, but even now in 2011. I got a lot of well meant advice. Of course I did understand everything people said to me: God doesn’t want this, go to Him, don’t do it, and so on. It just didn’t get to me. I saw no other way than divorcing my wife. It just was ‘too much’.
      I do also feel like Joyce. Please look at God for solutions and try to avoid a painful divorce. But I guess, that is probably not how you feel right now. If you did like I did, you have already gone with this issue to our Lord. Many times. And of course, you know exactly what you should or shouldn’t do.
      And than . . . . . my life is still very burdened after 7 years. A divorce is not the shortcut to happiness. It can take you years to get over it. I feel like David who asked God (Psalms 51) when he will feel joyful again.
      I don’t know if you’re even waiting for any kind of advice. However, if you would like my humble opinion, please read on. I am very proud you spoke out to your husband about your unbalanced marriage. Within any relation it is meant that both ‘parties’ have a equal position. I think it is important you feel as unique and loved as your husband. Like in Isaiah 43:1 “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights”. Feeling loved and unique will help you to ‘face’ your husband in any conversation. Not in a feministic way (I guess), but as equal partners the way God put it. By the way, it takes me a lot of time to understand that I am of the same importance to God as any other human being.
      Furthermore, please try to find people who will go the distance with you. Who will not judge you or try to move you in their direction. The right people can and will help you to carry on and, if you can, to take it slow (again, there is no quick divorce; so why not take your time). Convince people (if necessary) that you need them that way; you will notice that a LOT of people aren’t able to follow you.
      If it would be possible to continue your marriage, you and your husband will (probably) have a long way to go. Some will manage, others will not. I know that God will not forsake you. He will stand by you, in any situation. If you decide to divorce, it will be painful. As Andrea put it, love just cannot go.
      I wish you lots of trust, patience and I pray that you and your husband will find a way to sort things out. Be blessed by our great Lord!!

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    5. Hi Amy!

      I feel for you and I feel compelled to tell you about a book called Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. This book is amazing. It talks about the love a woman most desires and the respect a man most needs. It also points to the fact that even if what they talk about in the book doesn’t work and your spouse doesn’t respond, to hold on to the hope that God can still change his/her heart and that ultimately you hang in there for God, you love your spouse for God no matter what and there is a reward waiting for that faithfulness. May God bless your marriage and bring healing!

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      1. Hi Marie and others who gives the good advice …

        I can very much relate to the advice to read books, to hold on to God and so on. On the other hand I think it is very painful that hardly anyone tries to understand Amy’s situation. Try this one: you pretty much fight for your marriage every day, for many years. You pray to God for help and you try to love your husband / wife over and over again. You read dozens of book about marriage and love. You try to apply what you read. And you try to talk to your husband / wife. And still .. love is not returned. You start to feel lonely. Very lonely. Why is this happening to you?
        And then … you write to others about your pain and sorrow by posting a response to a blog. What happens? No one even tries to understand what is happening to you. Almost EVERYONE instantly gives advice how YOU should go on.
        Why is it that we consider nothing else then giving advice? Before my own divorce I did exactly the same (by the way). Divorce was just ‘out of the question’. God hates it, so why try to understand the pain and hurt from people who ‘sacrifice’ their marriage. Since my own breakup I sometimes feel the world consists of two types of christian people: the ones divorced and the ones not divorced. Both groups are sincere in their love to God and others. But there is just no connection. I can write whatever I want about the need to understand people like Amy and myself. And still, it will never (or hardly) be grasped by ‘the other side’. Because? Because what I did was wrong and what Amy is about to to is wrong. But it is nothing like Jesus did. He always had compassion to people in need. He started to show His love to the Samatarian wife he met at the well.
        O yes, Jesus explained very clearly that Gods hates divorce. As much as God hates all sins. Let’s not forget why Jesus talks about marriage and divorce. It was because the Pharisees were selling out on Gods law. And not only on the issue of marriage, by the way.

        Dear Amy, I really hope that all the advices do help YOU. God will never stop loving you. Gods hates divorce. And because He knew that people are not able to show love the way He can, He gave Moses instructions on how and when to end a marriage. If you really can’t hold on, you can follow the road of divorce. I will not be easy and you will experience pain because God wants the BOTH of you to be faithful to each other. If I may, I would like you to bless you in Gods name. Please know that He loves you. Always.

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  5. love stays on and gets perfected everyday by God. until faith is no more, hope is no more but what remains is love for the perfect One. just plain God-love.

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  6. Ok, so I’m a male. No others here, but this is my opinion. Whatever the object of your affection is, if you feel so in love and attached to “her” or whatever it is…you must deny yourself of claiming ownership. In the
    Beginning, Abraham waited 100 years to receive what God promised him. He doubted, went out on his own and decided to “make the promise work.” Until God is willing to fulfill His end of the bargain, we must take an active stance and die to it all. The love never leaves nor should a person “just give up.” That’s not the point. God’s goal is to see if you’re willing to let things go for His purposes. If you’re willing & obedient, “then”…but rarely not a second sooner. God’s timing is perfect altho it may seem as if you’re standing still, forever! The love never leaves and if it does or did, then it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe the temptation to jump ship and swim to another boat became too great. Whatever it is, love never leaves. It returns, and can come back with a vengeance! A good vengeance. But until a person learns how to deal with the cards they’ve been given, it’s doubtful that they’ll be given a better deck. Don’t throw in the towel when the fire gets hot, your faith is being tested. Stay in love, but master the emotion to a level where you’re able to function. So, what are you willing to let subside for a season?

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  7. I have a different take. Love is a junk drawer word these days. We ‘love’ our car, dog, local sports team, spouse, kids, favorite eatery, etc. And where break ups are concerned they hardly ever happen when people are in love…or what they would call love. Truth is, there is a sense of comfort and happiness that we mistake for love, and when there is real love, I’d dare say, break ups are non existent. Love is not a replaceale emotion and can not be shifted from one person to another. So, to answer the question “Where does love go after the break up,” I’d have to say it doesn’t go anywere…because it was never really there in the first place.

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    1. In many cases this may be that it was not real love, but it is not always the fact.
      Iloved, love and will always love a certain individual.

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  8. Wow, Amy, your comment made me want to cry. I too have gone through the SAME exact thing that you are going through. And the same question, “what about the covenant I made before gone?” the truth is, your love sometimes has to be a choice and not just a feeling. If the Lord loved us for who we were, then every single one of us would not have the gift of His grace because ALL of us fall short of the glory of God. However, God chooses to love us because He is, after all, the God of love. Don’t divorce your husband. It doesn’t sound like he is walking in right relationship with the Lord, but you have no control over that. What you do have control over, however, is getting into PROFESSIONAL, paid, Christian counseling and begin on a long, committed journey toward finding your security in Christ and not in your husband. What you are going to be doing is learning how to set boundaries and teaching your husband that you will no longer enable him to hurt you. If he is being physically abusive, then you need to leave and find a steady home to stay in. The Lord can heal your marriage even when you are apart. Let Him change you and your heart. But what you did by marrying your husband, let no man separate. But God also doesn’t want you to be abused either. You are His precious princess and He loves you SO much!! And you have such incredible value in His eyes. When men abuse, it is the outlet of their anger. Their anger comes from their inability to get through their own hurt, past, guilt and insecurities. By learning to grow and becoming secure in the Lord, you will learn how to turn to Him. Our spouse will never fulfill us completely. Only God can. But when your husband sees the changes in you, you will have the greatest ministry to share when you tell people how God healed your marriage. Begin the journey and let the holy spirit work. God promises us that He will never leave us or forsake us. Meaning, He will never turn His heart away from us. Don’t turn your heart away from your husband. But the greatest love you can show him is that you will no longer tolerate his abuse. When he sees he cannot affect you anymore, he will be forced to deal with that inner hurt, and hopefully that will be through the holy spirit. Get the book “the power of a praying wife” and pray without ceasing for your husband. God is the ultimate Healer. And the reconciliation of a marriage is one of His most beautiful images of Christ’s reconciliation.

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  9. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree Ms. Lucado. I am weeks away from finishing a long and acrimonious divorce. Your dad’s writings, and Henri Nouwen’s have been one of the crucial supports that have gotten me through. Thanks for writing this, it helps explain to me why it was so critical not to involve myself immediately following my wife leaving me for another man. Will be a regular reader of your posts from here on.

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    1. I had a friend text me a Henri Nouwen quote after reading this post. I’ll need to read more of him.
      Thanks for commenting. I’m sorry for the difficult time you’re going through and really appreciate your honesty.
      It’s funny (and a little naive) that divorce wasn’t near my thoughts when I wrote this post. I still think only about dating having only experienced that. But love post-marriage brings this topic to an entirely new level.

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      1. God put good people in my church family to walk with me and keep me from directing that love to someone else romantically. Those friends also lent me several Henri Nouwen books. I suggest you read Life of the Beloved. A truly lifechanging way to look at adversity.

        As we had a ten year marriage, with two kids, the past twelve months have been obviously difficult, but God’s love has not only gotten me, but my two lovely daughters through (both have relied heavily on their own faith and our church family throughout) It appears they will be spending most of year with me, here in central MO, summers and some weekends with their mom in southwest IL.

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    2. Hi Nathan,

      I would like to wish you a lot of support from my side of the globe. The period to come will not be easy for you and your ex wife. Don’t know if the both of you got kids. Experiences from others and my own indicate that you will need a couple of years to heal. It is frustrating when a marriage ends; I guess you weren’t thinking this could happen when you married some years (?) ago. I found it fruitful to review my own part in growing apart. I also think it is necessary. Normally you love each other when you marry. To regain your capability to love, it helps to see how you contributed to your marriage. You will be confronted in the coming period any way. I experienced that all kinds of personal things surfaced.
      For now, just hold on my brother. Take care the coming period and be sure, even if you do not feel is as such, that our true God will help and support you always.

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  10. So maybe before you dive into another relationship you should wait for that love to return to it’s natural form…make it a “clean slate” so to speak. If this was facebook i’d “like” it 🙂

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  11. I really liked this post Andrea. It has brought a beautiful perspective, so thank you!

    And Amy, yes, God heals in wondrous ways, but He doesn’t call us to be abused. Sometimes, we must love from afar and let the other person find healing and restoration away from us. Divorce has massive collateral damage and leaves a wake of destruction…especially for the children.
    So, I do agree with the others above, but I also wanted to make sure that if you are being abused that you should not feel guilty for stepping out. My opinion/perspective is that God loves the abused enough that He stipulated for it even in the Bible…through divorce. God hates divorce, He knows the destruction it causes, but abuse is just as despicable and protecting His child is more important than protecting the marriage. BUT, that’s completely my opinion.

    I will pray for you and your family tonight.

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  12. Great post! You’ve obviously struck a nerve with us. I’m sure lots can relate to it. For me, I’ve decided not to love anyone who doesn’t deserve it. I believe love is a choice. No, it doesn’t have feet and can’t just walk away. But it is in our hearts and mind and we can decide to put it away–along with all the other bad decisions we’ve made.

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