Since I was a little girl, I always remember how perfect the ending of the love stories in TV were, specially from the “telenovelas” (latin soap operas). How the girl who was pretty and nice would always end up with the handsome rich guy, it was that simple. In a way this idea of the perfect guy, or the perfect girl, got embedded in our mind without being aware of it. Now, I am not saying that having a handsome and rich guy next to you is bad, but are we with this person for the right reason? Does he treat you right? Does he connect with you in a profound way? Does he support your dreams? Does he push you to grow into the best version of yourself? Is he your best friend? Or maybe nobody taught us growing up what we should really take into account before “falling in love with someone”. Unfortunately, we fly into this world of butterflies and beautiful flowers way too fast that we think we will never leave it, until we do. Then we realize it’s already too late. Also, from my point of view this terminology of “Falling in love” is overrated and it should be change to “Choosing to love”. For instance, if I use the analogy that you are falling from a building, ask yourself will this person catch me? Are you 100% sure, that this person will have your back when you need it the most? On the other hand, when you choose to love someone is because you understand that love is not a noun, or a feeling that is flying in the air and you catch it, but is a verb. Love is a doing word, its active, and if love is a verb, then service is the action. And that’s why love and service have to be so intertwined, because in today’s society when we talk about love, the definition is so skewed. The reality is that when someone love someone they serve, that’s how love works.
Love has become so badly abused, and misused in our lives that we just throw it around without understanding the real definition of true love. This happens because people are not self-loved or self-fueled enough to even consider this. We have not yet established a strong bond with ourselves, and we have not yet connected with our true essence to really comprehend that love is a sacred word. Our mind has been wired with instant gratification, that we think it’s just a matter of finding the ideal person, fall in love and hope for the best, all in less than a month. It’s even worse than gambling because at least in gambling you are not involving someone else emotions and precious time. If you really want to have a lasting, fulfilled, meaningful and joyful relationship, according to Buddhism, there are four elements of true love we should take into account.
1. Loving-kindness - This is not only the desire to make someone happy, but to have the ability to bring joy and happiness to the person you love, and in order to able to do this, you must practice deep looking directed towards the person you love. Because if you don’t understand this person, you cannot love properly; and understanding is the essence of love. But what one must do in order to understand this person? You must have time, be there for the person, be attentive and observe. Love is true thing and is made up of a substance called understanding.
2. Compassion - This is not the only desire to ease the pain of another person, but the ability to do so. You must practice deep looking in order to gain a good understanding of the nature of the suffering of this person. But to gain a good understanding, you must practice meditation. Meditation is to look deeply into the heart of things.
3. Joy - If there is no joy, there is no love. If you are suffering all the time, if you cry all the time, and if you make the person you love cry, this is not really love, it’s the opposite.
4. Freedom - In true love you attain freedom. When you love, you bring freedom to the person you love. You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free, not only outside but also inside. One question for testing out whether your love is something real, ask “Dear one, do you have enough space in your heart and all around you?"
I hope that after reading these elements of true love, you understand the magnitude of the word “love”. Because there is a very thin line between liking and loving, we often misunderstand the meaning from one another and we end up making mistakes in our relationships. When we like someone, we take it and don’t think any further. We do whatever we want to get that feeling of pleasure, not realizing that we are neither satisfied by that pleasure, and nor will that thing last. Then, sometimes we become so attached to that person that we end up loosing ourselves in the process. But the truth is that this is not love, true love is selfless, compassionate, kind and brings a sense of freedom within you. The lesson here is that a real relationship, a real connection, takes time, and like a flower, you need to nurture it and water it daily so you can experience it forever.