A Symmetry

The following advice has become rather common-place:

If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they're yours; if they don't, they never were.
I want to note something about the logick of this formula.

To return is to have gone; implicit in the words come back is that distance develops, whether actively or passively. And, indeed, if neither of two people makes an effort to stay connected, that is what one expects to happen.

If two people each apply the rule of setting the other free and of then awaiting the return of the other, it will not be love but chance-coïncidence or a conspiracy of others or perhaps some action of the collective unconscious that brings them back together — if anything does at all. The formula as popularly given strikes me as potentially very destructive to the purposes of love.

Now, that doesn't mean that each of two people in love should do entirely the opposite, and attempt to constrain the other person by threats or by impairments. Rather, one wants to empower the other person, yet hope that he or she stays, so that there is no coming back. And, typically, that hope should be expressed to the other person.

But, sometimes, one watches one's love go away, and prays for a return.

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