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Robert Leonard C.

Goco | Th 141-K | September 1, 2010

A Resolution for Unrequited Love in the Theological Perspective

In the theological perspective, love is basically defined as a mutual relationship between

two individuals. According to Karol Wojtyla, in his book Love and Responsibility,“[Love] is
based on particular attitudes to the good, adopted by each of them individually and by both
jointly.” Given that definition, unrequited love, which is defined as a love that is not openly
reciprocated, can’t be appropriately classified as a form of love because it lacks what is said one
of the most essential factors of loving: mutuality or reciprocation. This paper aims to find a place
for unrequited love in the theological perspective as an acceptable form of love, and not simply
and bluntly a non-love.
Unrequited love, a love synonymous to heartbreaks and misery, has been around as long
as love has. This experience is somewhat inevitable given that each person has an ideal love and
chances are the beloved has a different ideal love other than the lover. This then, more often than
not, brings misunderstanding, pain and tears, broken friendships, shattered hopes, and even the
loss of a hopeless romantic’s life every once in a while.
Puzzling as it is, unrequited love never leaves the human nature of loving. But why go
through the trouble? Why do people insist to chase after people who initially do not – and
probably never will – love them back? How do people carry the burden of being in an apparent
non-love? There must be some bit of rationality to the many hopeless romantics (especially for
the ones who do not expect anything in return for their love) all over the world throughout
history to pursue something such as unrequited love.
Optimistic perspective to unrequited love may be derived from the philosophical and
psychological views of love. In philosophy, there are beliefs not strict of whether love should be
reciprocated (e.g. Plato’s thoughts on love), concentrating on the longing of someone which is
not his (which is basically the gist of unrequited love). Here, through the attainment of the
beloved, one attains beauty; this belief has also been its critique because the beloved becomes a
means to an end rather than the end itself. A whole theory of Love as Robust Concern view in
philosophy even supports volitional love for sake of the beloved. It must be pointed out though,
that not all unrequited loves are void of intuitive depth, because it is, as many thinkers point out,
a default in loving. Unrequited love also works (but not explicitly stated so) in the psychological
perspective of love because it complies with Berscheid’s temporal courses of the components of
love, especially on the decline of uncertainty. In attraction, a psychological phenomenon such as
the gain-loss effect also plays a role in increasing passion in an unrequited love.
After descriptions about unrequited love as a worthy love in other perspectives, it still
does not dispel the fact that it contradicts the pillar definition of love under the theological
perspective. With sufficient research and reflection, I believe that it is not possible to categorize
unrequited love as a love under the said perspective as I cannot say that black is white and vice
versa. Instead, we can take unrequited love as a love-which-is-coming-into-being (if it were to
succeed). It is quite obvious that the ultimate purpose of unrequited love is to offer oneself as
worthy of another’s love through the selfless willing of good without anything in return. Isn’t it,
if not of highest value, at least worthy enough of consideration for people who would want to
bare themselves to a beloved for the creation of a consummate love? Unrequited love, in a sense,
is not wholly apart from the good of the unconditional love (a love unaffected by actions of the
beloved), but rather, a form of it so as long as the lover stays true. In addition to the theological
thought of reciprocated love as a perfection of limitation (and thus, attaining the highest form of
being), unrequited love also offers a reflection of both parties in the 1.) transparency of actual
intentions; 2.) the limitations and strengths that need improvement for the complementation each
other (i.e. epistemic significance); 3.) capacity for sacrifice; 4.) construction of certitude and
trust; and many other epiphanies unique to unrequited love. Unrequited love also offers a
reiteration for the concept of freedom in love (in the theological perspective), as a form of
volition to want the best for the specifically a person over everybody else and (uniquely in
unrequited love) to love amidst the pain of it. It is not simply a lack of love in one end of a
relationship, but an evaluative attitude directed towards the beloved that will definitely bring
good to both as would love in a theological perspective does.
Unrequited love may not always end as we idealize it. Nevertheless, for the few times
people succeed with it, a genuinely unique and indissoluble consummate love is created.
However, there will always be cases when love fails to be reciprocated. The worth of effects
unrequited love brings about will depend on how the person responds to it – some may find
enlightenment while others may only find disappointment. Whatever the ending may be, it leaves
a mark on the person that will forever be symbolic of the choice he willingly made to love
despite the risk of not being loved back.