I have asked myself countless times, what is love? What is the difference between obsession and love? How do we know what love is with so many different definitions? I have been a romantic for as long as I can remember. Before anyone asks, no it was not thanks to Disney. I firmly believed someone needed me and that they were suffering greatly without me. Sure this could be some sort of psychological issue and maybe it is. Still, I believe that great love communicates across time and space. Take that as you will.
Some types of love we acknowledge:
Motherly love – nurturing, unconditional
Platonic love – helpful, supportive
Romantic – passionate, deep
One of my favorite philosophers, Kierkegaard, broke off his engagement to his only love Regine. I cry reading about it – he was as cruel as he could be to her, in the hopes that she would stop caring. She went into total despair and he hated himself for causing it. He wanted her to live without him and be strong – he saw himself as a barrier to her eternal happiness because of what he believed was his duty to God. I believe with all of my heart that they should have been together – but it was not to be. Ever the one who thought he knew best, he stood by this decision, and all across Copenhagen he was known as the cruel man who broke her heart. He was not a fan of “half-way situations” and believed them to be harmful to young women. No wonder, then, he did it this way.
What a cruel decision he made for her!
And yet, perhaps it did allow her to be happier in the end. It is impossible to know. On Wiki it states that “he took him with her into history”. How wonderful that he knew she would be remembered along with him; and in this way they never truly are without each other.
I cry thinking of how painful this was for both of them. It hurts me in a sense to have benefited from Kierkegaard’s writings, knowing that immense heartbreak was the source.
I firmly believe for Kierkegaard that true love was always in the distance between them in the same way that there is distance between the individual and God. It was not within one person or the other person. It was what was shared across the distance – what was unspoken and left unacknowledged. Maybe this is what separates true love from the others – it withstands distance, time, and space. Maybe this is why he was so adamant about God – because a relationship with God requires this understanding.
I remain unsure, but if you are a romantic like me, I highly recommend you research Kierkegaard and Regine’s love story.