You are what you love, and not what loves you back.—Jenny Lewis

This is a lyric from a ditty by Jenny Lewis, and it has has taken my brain hostage. This little quote, the song’s hook, is on a tape loop in my head.

Lewis is singing about a stuck, mutually exploitive relationship, but I keep finding different shades of nuance in this quote.

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.

In a way, it’s a torch song. I’ll love him forever even if he never loves back, because he is part of my soul. It gives a little nobility to unrequited love.

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.

What attracts you? Who do you fall for when you fall in love? That person is mirror of your needs and self image, whether or not the love is reciprocated.

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.

If you are in love with a person who treats you badly, you  might be someone who will put up with a lot for the right rewards. No judgment; life is full of negotiations. But if you’re unhappy and still staying for these rewards, maybe you really love the rewards and not the person.

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.

Because some things just can’t love back: Clothes, education, chocolate, money. Even things like security, sexual gratification, and comfort. If that’s what you love, who are you? Again, no judging. Just asking.

You are what you love, and not what loves you back

Suppose you love someone who is dazzling, charismatic, and fascinating, and that person loves you back. All that dazzling, charismatic, fascinating love beaming down on you won’t make you dazzling, charismatic, and fascinating unless you already have it in you. We do not don the attributes of those we love. At best, we get to warm ourselves in their spotlight.

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.

Love is never invalid.  Whether the love is reciprocated or not, love is always something. It is important. It is you.

Now, welcome to my earworm.

Photo of girl with cell phone is available from Shutterstock.