We’ve all been there. We meet someone, and we feel that initial surge of attraction. We want to be near them, touch them, kiss them. But then, somewhere along the way, things change. The relationship becomes complicated. We start to feel pain instead of pleasure. Is it love if it hurts so much?
In her novel, It Ends With Us, author Colleen Hoover tackles the question of whether love does have to hurt. The novel is a New York Times Best Seller and follows the story of Lilly, a young woman who falls in love with Ryle, a man haunted by his abusive past. As their relationship progresses, Lilly must decide whether she is willing to stand by Ryle as he works through his demons or if she will walk away before she gets too hurt.
Hoover opens the novel with a heart-wrenching scene in which the protagonist, Lily, relives the moment when she was left by her first love and the pain that came along with it. Lily is convinced that love and pain are synonymous, and she goes to great lengths to avoid being hurt again. However, as the novel progresses, we see Lily open her heart again to the possibility of love—and pain.
Through Lily’s journey, Hoover addresses the age-old question: does love require pain? While there is no easy answer, Hoover ultimately concludes that pain is a necessary component of love. To truly appreciate the good moments, we also have to experience the bad ones. As difficult as it may be to go through heartache, pain makes the good moments even sweeter. Without experiencing both ends of the spectrum, we would never be able to appreciate the full extent of love.
While fictional, the novel highlights an essential question many of us face in our lives. Do we stay in relationships even when difficult, or do we walk away before things get too complicated? There is no easy answer, but Hoover doesn’t shy away from exploring the darker side of love.
It’s not always easy to let go of our preconceived notions about love, but if we want to find lasting happiness, we need to be open to the idea that love doesn’t have to hurt. We need to be willing to let go of the view that love is something that takes away from us instead of adding to our lives. Only then can we find the happiness we’re looking for.
So, does love really require pain? No, not necessarily. While it’s often been portrayed that way in popular culture, this isn’t always the case in real life. If we’re open to the idea that love can be beautiful and perfect and everything we’ve ever wanted, then we might just find the happiness we’re looking for.