(…) she (Vera) smiled at him (Ognev) through her tears and said:
“I . . . love you!”
These words, so simple and ordinary, were uttered in ordinary human language, but Ognev, in acute embarrassment, turned away from Vera, and got up, while his confusion was followed by terror.
He felt an inward revulsion; he looked askance at Vera, and now that by declaring her love for him she had cast off the aloofness which so adds to a woman’s charm, she seemed to him, as it were, shorter, plainer, more ordinary.
“What’s the meaning of it?” he thought with horror. “But I . . . do I love her or not? That’s the question!”
Ivan Alexeyitch was left alone.
He looked for Vera’s footprints on the road, and could not believe that the girl who had so attracted him had just declared her love, and that he had so clumsily and bluntly “refused” her.
His conscience tormented him, and when Vera disappeared he felt as though he had lost something very precious, something very near and dear which he could never find again. He felt that with Vera a part of his youth had slipped away from him, and that the moments which he had passed through so fruitlessly would never be repeated.
When he reached the bridge he stopped and sank into thought. He wanted to discover the reason of his strange coldness. That it was due to something within him and not outside himself was clear to him. He frankly acknowledged to himself that it was not the intellectual coldness of which clever people so often boast, not the coldness of a conceited fool, but simply impotence of soul, incapacity for being moved by beauty, premature old age brought on by education, his casual existence, struggling for a livelihood, his homeless life in lodgings. From the bridge he walked slowly, as it were reluctantly, into the wood.
Here, where in the dense black darkness glaring patches of moonlight gleamed here and there, where he felt nothing except his thoughts, he longed passionately to regain what he had lost.
“Verotchka” by Anton Chekhov
Some people want love and concurrently run away from it.
Why is this happening to them?
Perhaps one answer to this question is contained in the book “The Art of Loving” by Erich From:
Love “requires knowledge and effort.”
“Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.”