To love or lose at love

To be in love where scorn is bought with groans;

Coy looks with heart-sore sighs,

One fading moment's mirth,

With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights,

If haply won, perhaps a hapless gain,

If lost, why then a grievous labour won;

However, but a folly bought with wit,

Or else a wit by folly vanquished.

Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 1, 1

What a mouthful about love that is, as the words heart, sighs, mirth, hapless, folly, vanquished, lost, peppered throughout the diatribe. That word 'lost' is significant as it signifies finality to the relationship, the end of the romance, the termination of the two. Lost love can be a bummer.

It's said that at times breaking up with someone and losing that love is akin to losing a loved one due to death. It's that bad.

“Oh he's gone and left me; I wish that I could just die.”

People have been known to commit suicide after a lost love as the anguish was just too much to bear. That's how hard some people take it, as the pain of losing at love is so excruciating that, in their mind, life is no longer worth living. So much so, the question has been asked, “Is it better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?” After all, if losing at love is so painful, devastating, debilitating, why put yourself through that terrible experience?

Surely, it's something that people should avoid, right? Elders should warn their children, “Don't fall in love, for love lost is too painful.” Well, the jury is still out on that one, and we'll see what the verdict is right after these responses to my take on 'Justifiable beating'.

Hi Tony,

One way of putting a stop to the beating of women is for those women to defend themselves any which way they can. As you stated, most bullies are cowards and if the woman retaliates forcefully, the beatings may stop. If that fails, threaten the man with dismemberment of his manhood when he sleeps. If the woman has brothers or a father, enlist them to perform a beatdown on the cowardly man. After all, that would be justifiable defence.


Hello Tony,

There is no such thing as a justifiable beating of a woman, at least not in law. That being said, some women invite men to hit them, and a man who lacks strength of character will fall prey to that. Sadly, I fell into this category and I must confess that I have hit a woman. I'm known as having a calm disposition, never quick to anger, yet her taunts, jeers and ridicule after she cheated on me were too much to bear. I snapped and gave her a thrashing that she'll never forget, then I left her. Justifiable? No. Proud? No. But I felt better after doing it.


The path of true love never runs smoothly, it has been said. And throughout the ages people have endured and suffered the pain, humiliation, anguish and the heartache of loving someone deeply and then having lost that love. No wonder it's called heartbreak, for they say that the pain is like having your heart totally destroyed.

Maybe there is no medical explanation but people who have lost at love describe it as having their heart ripped out of their chest. Some people never get over it, never recover, and even if they do happen to venture into a new relationship, into new uncharted waters again, they're always looking over their shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and become startled at the earliest sign of discord. The old cowboys used to call that being gun shy, frightened at the mere sound of a gun going off, even from a distance. Once bitten, twice shy, is their mantra.

The experience can be horrific, as couples start out like a bed of roses but end up like a field of cactus….er cacti, all prickly and gnarly with sharp thorns that inflict serious wounds. It's like emerging from the throes of battle, the end of a war, where even the survivors wish that they were dead. It's that bad to lose at love.

“So why go through all that in the name of love, bredrin?”

“Because if you haven't, you haven't lived, brother.”

Being in love can bring so much joy, so much passion, so much sensuality and sexuality, so much romance. No wonder people keep on falling in love, even though they're aware of the pitfalls and dangers.

“It's like a drug, a narcotic, I can't help it.”

That unbridled joy of being together is almost beyond description, but for someone who hasn't experienced it, no verbal explanation can do it any justice. But after the euphoria of that unbridled joy, reality may soon set in, and the love goes sour. Then the pain and anguish of the writhing death throes and the reality of losing that love stare you in the face.

The wheels of the wagon begin to fall off and the daggers not only burst the bubble but pierce the heart that was once filled with joy. Was it all worth it? No way, say those who haven't experienced it but witnessed those who have.

“Why should I put myself through all that, to give my heart and soul so freely, only to have it trampled on by someone who doesn't care, or who has eyes for another?”

In their minds, emotional safety comes first, and it's better to never have loved at all and avoid all the pitfalls, pain, problems, punishment of losing at love.

“I'd rather live without all that grief and play it safe.”

But is that really living, or merely existing? Isn't life all about taking risks? And being in love is perhaps the greatest risk of all for after experiencing the dizzying heights of romance and passion, it can all come crashing down like a weather balloon that lost its hot air.

It's like going to an amusement park and just gazing up at all the rides without ever venturing unto one. The roller coaster, the Ferris wheel, the bumper cars, all give an ecstatic thrill and a tinge of danger. But you prefer to watch from a distance. Then after you leave, all that you can do is listen to the experiences of others who dared to jump on the rides and enjoy the thrills.

“You're a fool, you loved and you lost.”

“No, you're the fool, you never loved at all.”

The people who've never loved lived a life of safety, never got their hearts broken, never felt the pain of being dumped, discarded, scorned, jilted, left behind. They exist in the safe zone and never experienced the crazy ride of romance.

They say that rough storms make better sailors. That being said though, losing at love is no smooth sailing and can have devastating effects on some people. That's why many people stay in the safe harbour.

Just last month two ladies told me of the experiences of lost love. Ironically, both married men who lived overseas, and both marriages crumbled within five years after they joined their husbands in foreign. The experience was shattering, but interestingly, both ladies showed the resilience to not give up on love and are willing to try again.

“I'm still young and tree nuh grow inna me face, so I'm going back on the market.”

Others play it safe though, and even though they seek companionship they keep on their life jacket, their safety vest, their parachute — and don't lay themselves careless. They do get involved with a partner but they maintain a safe distance and never allow their emotions to get the better of them.

“I will hook up, yes, but none of that love stuff.”

May I dare say that men are better at this than women? Women are notorious for being victims of their emotions, and as soon as they get involved with a man, they fall in love.

“There she goes again, falling in love with the wrong man and having her heart broken again.”

Men, on the other hand, are able to control their emotions and deal only with the physical.

“I can make love to them without actually loving them, if you know what I mean.”

That's why a man can have sex with a woman a thousand times or more without loving her, but a woman can have sex only one time with a man and fall deeply in love.

The man stays in his safe zone, and will never experience the pain of a lost love. He will drift through life without feeling the highs and lows and even the pain and anguish of a lost love.

“Love 'em and leave 'em is what I say, brother. No heartbreak for me.”

But who's better off? Again, the question is asked, is it better to have loved and lost, or never to have loved at all? It was Othello who said, “Then must you speak of one who loved not wisely, but too well.”

More time.

Footnote: Hooray! My search has ended for the article written about me 23 years ago by Dr Laura Tanna in her The Gleaner column of Saturday, July 18, 1998, titled 'The People's Sociologist'. Dr Tanna, who humbly insists that I call her Laura, went into her archives and kindly found it for me. She really 'bigged' up my writing for the Jamaica Observer, even from so long ago. Here's an excerpt.

“Yet week after week he's flippant about the most astonishing things and succeeds not only in making us laugh but making us think. So how does a Jamaican male become such a gifted interpreter of his fellow man, particularly of the female gender?”

It was a glowing tribute from such a gifted writer as Dr Tanna, and I am eternally grateful and humbled. I must also thank the National Library of Jamaica for locating not only the article, but the entire page.

Tony Robinson

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