Where Love Goes


When a relationship is over, where does the love go? Does it disappear like ice in a glass or the bubbles in champagne?

Or does it hang in the air, nearby, waiting to bond you to someone new? Turn into something else like anger or sadness or simply move on?

Today may be a day of candy hearts and paper affirmations, but I’ve been thinking about the path of love undone because several people close to me have recently become uncoupled. One minute the love is there  — it’s your organizing principle – and then, it isn’t. You don’t feel it anymore. He doesn’t feel it anymore. You both can’t do it anymore. You have gone from a fluttering heart to a sigh and a yawn. From 90 miles an hour to neutral. Where did it go?

When people fall in love, a little universe is created. A system is made. Energy is exchanged. Love is the motor that keeps everything steady. And when it works, it works exceedingly well.

There’s a concept in physics called The Law of Conservation of Energy. Energy is defined as the ability for something to produce a change in itself or in the world around it. Like the energy between two people in love.

According to this theory, energy cannot be created or destroyed and can’t absorb more than it does to start. It just exists. It doesn’t go anywhere. It is simply conserved.

Energy conservation has three unique characteristics: potential, thermal or kinetic. Seems to me that we could borrow these and learn something interesting about the nature of lost love.

Consider that the love, the energy that you have expended is never wasted. The laws of the universe suggest that the energy you put into that love and that relationship have been banked. The energy has become convertible, useful, allowing you the potential and the energy, the gentle push, to love again.

A version of this post was first published February, 2011.