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Wednesday 7 June 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Column How do we get over losing the love of our life?
Those of us who have loved and lost are told to ‘move on’. Yes, we must do just that but it takes time and a lot of healing.

IT’S THE STUFF we lovers of romance love to read and see. After many years together mixed with tragedy and ecstasy, Brad and Angelina got married. The design of the dress and veil looked to me, a mere male, very traditional, and that’s no bad thing. But the drawings/paintings on her dress from her children really did send out a beautiful message about the love both have for each other and their children.

Of course there may be one or two people who are hurt at the turnout of events and will utter the lines ‘it should have been me’. The newspaper headlines have been speculating how Jennifer Aniston is feeling right now, as if she has just lost the love of her life. (Despite her break-up with Brad occurring nearly ten years ago and the fact that she has her own fiancée).

But it raises the question of how do you move on with your life after losing the one you love, the person you thought you might grow old with?

It doesn’t matter how famous anyone is, the hurt, regret, and despair at seeing the person you still love marry and have children with someone else is a bitter pill to swallow. So many thoughts and feelings will be go through your mind and heart.

It is even more galling if we are invited to the wedding because the bride, for example, wants to remain ‘friends’. Hindsight is a great thing! ‘If I knew then what I know now’ haunts the majority of people.

Move on

Those of us who have loved and lost are told to ‘move on’. Yes, we must do just that, but it takes time and a lot of healing. We are brought up with the belief, and are told repeatedly, that there is the one special person out there for us. If we believe we had found them and then lost them what does that make of all the assurances we were given, for example. Also we ask what does that say about ourselves that we couldn’t even hang on to the one true love in our lives.

For many of us, we have one true love in our lives, though we don’t necessarily end up with them. However, to our detriment we keep looking back picturing an idyllic life full of love with the person who in the end married someone else. To those who can identify with this scenario you know what an enormous loss this turns out to be.

True story

I wish to relate a true story to you. A few years ago a lady died and left no money and very few possessions. A small tin at the back of a cupboard was found and inside there was one photograph of a young man and a couple of short letters. These items were kept secret from her family. Both loved each other but were prevented from marrying by their parents because one was Roman Catholic and the other Church Of Ireland. She married someone else a year later, a decent, if dull man. She loved him but was not in love with him, and lived the rest of her life thinking about what might have been. She died relatively young, still longing for the life she that was denied her.

We are encouraged to ‘move on’ and we must. Living in the past like Miss Haversham in Great Expectations does no good for our physical or mental health. We also like to believe that if we did marry the man/woman of our dreams we would live happily ever after with no problems.

Happily ever after… 

Films are notorious for finishing as the couple walk off together to share the next fifty years in marital bliss. At this time of loss we need our friends and family behind us as supporters and encouragers. It does not help to berate ourselves about our so called shortcomings.

As I often repeat to clients that if we are lucky enough, and it is luck, that we meet our ‘soul mate’, which is rare, it is akin to winning the lottery. Because we don’t win the lottery, or marry the person whom we believe would have been our dream partner, but that doesn’t necessarily make everything else a waste or second best.

As we get older our relationship needs change. If we have loved and lost our ‘first true love’ we need a time of reflection and time to heal. When we meet someone else please give them, and yourself, time. You may not feel that huge ‘rush’ of love or lust, but given time you may come to realise the intimacy you feel will be different – not worse, just different, maybe even better.

Love of your life

Losing the ‘love of our life’ to someone else is shattering. We ask, ‘Why couldn’t he/she love me as I loved them’? This is why love is such a lottery. Rare is it that both party’s feel exactly the same. Even if they do that doesn’t guarantee success. If you have suffered this type of loss and you meet another be careful and gentle, he/she may have suffered a similar fate. Please do not think of this person as second best, or think ‘he/she will do’.

If you continue to look back with bitterness you will never find true love and contentment, only increasing personal sadness.

This is a cliché but it’s true: that the loss of whom you thought was your ‘true’ love happened for a reason, and that reason is standing right in front of you.

Tony Moore is a Relationships Counsellor and psychotherapist for Relationships Ireland. Relationships Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that offers confidential relationship counselling. It also offers 1-on-1 Marriage Preparation Courses. For more information or to book a consultation you can contact 1890 380 380, email or visit

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