To The End of Love: Are There Limits on Love?

by Gigi Ross on February 13, 2013

limit on love

This post will get you thinking.

Olga from Around the Birthing Ball is here to talk about love. How and if it’s measurable, and how and when, it ends, if at all. Is there a limit on love? Read what Olga has to say, and then share your perspective.


The children treated me to a nice evening. Neither of them had any problems to resolve. They did homework, played, and put away their toys while I watched in wonder. I’d even checked their temperature—just in case—absence of tantrums raises a red flag in my book. But they weren’t sick and so I spread my happy wings and flew down thirty blocks to meet my husband at a concert. Hand-in-hand we smiled widely to acknowledge a date night and sat back in our seats. Leonard Cohen opened with Dance Me to the End of Love.

Though one of my favorite songs in his repertoire, I’ve always found it unsettling. Love shouldn’t end, but if it does, where is that end? And I am not referring to any one love in particular. Rather, the summed total of all of our loves. The complete collection of neurons and heart pumps we have in our arsenal to spend on others. Is there an edge to this sweet and sour paste of happiness and drama?

I ask because adulthood requires us to love so many at once and equally strongly. We go through life adding more and more dear ones to the list. We begin with our parents and siblings and make room for true friends, partners, and children. Some of these latter ones are overwhelming. Just when we realize that loving a child expands our emotional capacity to the brink, another one is on the way. We regroup, we make room. For nine months we struggle as a family to imagine how anyone else can fit into the narrow space between our hearts. But then the curtain lifts, a new character enters the stage and makes us wonder how the show ever went on without him.

Being a mother of two I’m often baffled by the following question: “Do you love one kid more than the other?” I confess that when I had less “loves” under my belt I’d often posed this question to other moms. Now I know how hard it must have been for them to come up with an answer! Wondering if I can love one more than the other implies that there is a measure by which we can determine the size of love. And if you can measure love then maybe you can reach its end? To me, that’s a scary thought. I prefer to think of love as an endless, deep, and internal presence that we feel and express differently, depending on who it’s directed toward. And it doesn’t mean that there is a child or a dear friend that we love less. It means that, for whatever reason, we can only express a portion of our feelings toward them at a given time.

I might be looking ahead too quickly, but there will also be a point when the tables will turn—our children will become less expressive of their feelings toward us. So be it, as long as we realize that this is not the measure of their love.

Olga Breydo is a writer and an architect-turned-businesswoman in the past. She lives with her family in New York City and blogs alongside her childhood friend, Valerie Shor Perrier, about motherhood, parenting, and beyond at


Mary @ A Teachable Mom February 13, 2013 at 8:06 am

Olga, this is simply lovely. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on love. I especially resonated with the idea of only being able to express a portion of our feelings at any given time. I will think of these words whenever love from friends or family members doesn’t feel fair or equal. Well done!

Olga February 13, 2013 at 8:38 am

Dear Mary,

Thanks so much for reading. That’s exactly what I try to remind myself in these situations!

Jennifer February 13, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I think the more we love, the more capacity we have. It is something that grows exponentially with no end.

Olga February 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Jennifer, I like how you put it. Perhaps it does grow exponentially!

Wendy February 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I agree, Jennifer!!

Jackie February 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I have 4 kids and I can’t imagine loving one more than the other… although there are days that they do test me! But like Jennifer said I really think that love grows exponentially with no end.
There is always room to love more.

Olga February 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Oh, Jackie, indeed, there are days when they test us! Those are the days when I “express” a bit less love -;)

Meredith February 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm

This was something I never understood until I had more than one child myself! This is a beautiful post and so well written, Olga.

Olga February 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Meredith, thanks so much for reading and for your kind words! Yes, I agree, this is something we learn when we have more than one child.

Ashley @ It's Fitting February 13, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Wonderfully written! I have to admit to being one of those parents who didn’t know exactly HOW I was going to love my second child as much as my first. I just didn’t realize that you just DO. And that love can usually grow larger and exponentially with each passing year.

Olga February 13, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Thanks so much for reading, Ashley!

This is how I felt before the second one came along. And you are right, when he did there was clearly enough love in my reserve to shower him with it -;)

Wendy February 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Such a great read, Olga!

Sofia February 14, 2013 at 7:31 pm

You are serious on measuring this love phenomenon. Years ago I read what I liked: a love for a child is like a candle light. As you tip a wick of a new candle in your hand closer to the flame of a lit candle, the flame catches on, and you have more light in your eyes than before. Divided love is love increased.

But the measure of love is a more interesting subject to me. Hard to define, really. I do agree that each of us loves differently, and so to expect expression of love from another is to give up pretense of knowing what love is. Rather to be humble and learn love anew than to check the schedule and find disappointment.

thank you for interesting subject, Olga! I read your post yesterday, on a crosstown bus. Couldn’t answer it, but tasted the idea all this time long, including today, which is my 9th wedding anniversary.

Olga February 15, 2013 at 6:15 am

Thanks so much for reading! I’m glad the topic stayed with you. I always try to find something that the reader can hold on to for a while, and it’s so wonderful to hear that sometimes that happens!

I think your answer took the point I was making even further, thank you for that! And such a beautiful note about the candle…I’ve never thought of it that way.

Nina February 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Great post, Olga and LOVE seeing you here!

Olga February 16, 2013 at 10:02 am

Thanks so much, Nina. I am thrilled to be here!

Alison February 21, 2013 at 6:26 am

I think that when you give love, that love grows. So, no, there is no end. Only more.

Olga February 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Alison, what a wonderful way to think about this! I’ve never thought of it this way, but yes, you are right — it does seem to grow when you give it to others!

Chris Carter August 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

This is just lovely Olga!!! I absolutely love your words and your powerful message here. Perhaps love is the only thing besides eternity that has no end. I would like to think that.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: