Don’t fall in love: a warning

Image by the incredible Stuart F Taylor

Are you on the verge of falling in love? Is there someone you look at who makes you feel dizzy, like you’ve suddenly taken a deep lungful of air at the top of a mountain and you have to look around for a bench or a rock to sit down on in case you topple off? Yeah, don’t fall in love with them. Run the fuck away.

Don’t fall in love, fall into a pit of snakes – at least you’ll meet with a swift and decisive end.

Love hurts, and this is not a metaphor. Some people experience it as chest pain: actually physically feeling as though their heart is breaking. Like a boot standing at the center of the ribcage. Like heartburn. Like heavy rocks.

Don’t fall in love, fall down a short set of concrete steps, just enough to give you a bruise or two that’ll serve as a reminder when the person you’re about to fall in love with reels you in. Poke the bruises and remind yourself that they’re a small price to pay for remaining vigilant in the face of romance.

The first part of love itself feels nice, like walking through clouds or lying in the sunshine or taking MDMA. But the aftershocks – oh boy! – these are more than just emotional blips. Some people experience heartbreak as literal physical coldness. Numbness that comes hand-in-hand with despair.

Love, if you like, but don’t fall in love. There’s a distinction because the love that you have can be a precious gift, but the love that you’re in is a prison.

In order to escape this prison, first you must run the gauntlet of literal physical pain. I really cannot stress this enough: the pain is not always a metaphor. To some it’s the breath you can’t manage to take even though your chest is heaving. Like becoming liquid lead and melting. Like nails scratching the inside of your throat. Electric shocks. Pins and needles. Diarrhea. Vomiting.

Don’t let anyone worm their way into your heart, that shit’s dangerous. Let them into your life and your bed and your kitchen and your phone but never, ever your heart. That thing keeps you alive, so for fuck’s sake don’t give it away.

If you hand it to somebody else, and they smash it, you might experience anything from nausea to chest pains, to the sensation that the floor has dropped beneath you and you’re plummeting into the Earth.

Don’t fall in love, people: fall down an abandoned well. At least then Lassie might save you.

Don’t fall for people, fall for dogs: they’ll never notice your faults.

Don’t fall for men, fall for shit you can rely on. Like M&S t-shirt bras and the new recipe Quorn fajita strips and the second season of Fleabag.

Don’t fall for me, because I am weak as fuck for men who say they love me. Men who say – and truly believe – that this love will be different and new. This love, right here, will never hurt anyone.

Until it does.

Don’t fall in love: fall off a bridge. Fall down stairs. Fall into a deep vat of boiling Marmite.

But don’t fall in love, my friends: it simply isn’t worth it.



Huge thanks to all the incredible people on Twitter who helped me with this piece by sharing their descriptions of the symptoms of heartbreak. It hadn’t occurred to me until recently that not everyone experiences emotional pain in the same physical ways that I do, and your descriptions are fascinating and moving and beautiful – thank you all. I’ll write something longer on it later, but for now here’s a poetic and dramatic splurge that you absolutely shouldn’t read too much into, other than that I am a woman who wears her heart not simply on her sleeve but stapled, unhelpfully, to her forehead. I promise you I’m OK, though: sadness is all good content.



  • Moondog says:

    The deaths of close family members have been less painful for me than falling in love. I hate this about myself. The physical and mental agony just seems so irrational.

  • Phillip says:

    Heavy rocks.

  • Just a weirdo says:

    Love will kill you in the end. My heart has been crudely stitched back together so many times I don’t even know what’s left there holding it together. At this point in life I must have fallen for every covertly narcissistic woman on the planet, and each time I tell myself “Don’t do it! You know how this ends!” and then that other part of my brain that somehow manages to believe that it will be different chimes in and overrules the logical part of my brain. I seem to be a means for other broken people to heal themselves enough to leave and then go on to be better people and live happy lives with someone else, but never able to heal myself and just break a little more each time. Because I, like you, wear my scarred, scabbed and beat up heart gloriously displayed nailed to my forehead directly under my “I’m a sucker!” sign

  • Pang Olin says:

    Aaargh, reminds me of I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You by Tom Waits, which I listened to waaay too much in my 20s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.