I’ve loved, I’ve been loved. I’ve hurt and I’ve been hurt before. However, I’ve never understood the true meaning of the word ‘love’ until my recent experiences, that taught me the real definition of love. This is for all the beings on this Earth looking to grow in compassion, love, and joy.
The following are just some of the teachings about love that I have received in my life until now, things that maybe I wish I knew earlier. I’m just 21, so I am pretty sure there’s much more to learn. However, I hope they will help you as much as they help me in times when my mind gets cluttered from the external world. I will also mention, at the end of this post, some further readings that will give you an enlightened view on relationships and love.
Eventually, we are all looking for the same Love, as there is only One, True, Love.
I hope these will serve you well.
Love starts within. If you can’t give all your love to yourself first, you’re not going to be able to give it to someone else. “To solely attempt to love others without first loving yourself is to build a home without a strong foundation.” (Yung Pueblo, Inward)
True love empowers the other to be their best version of themselves and decide what is best for their lives. My past relationship taught me so much about this. I was in a judge-free zone, where my partner fully listened to me and empowered me to chase my dreams, always grounding me in reality as well. Having someone that helps you achieve your potential and doing the same for them is one of the beauties of a relationship.
Love simply is. There is no start point or end point to it. Yes, its intensity can change and differ, depending on who you give it to, but the core of our Being is just that: love. It’s so simple, but oh we do love to complicate things, don’t we?
Love is about giving. When both individuals focus on giving, true communion is created: some type of awareness that supports each other’s growth and happiness. The key? Keeping an open heart. With an open heart, you can both give and receive fully. However, I would add that even in the right and deepest love, you have to take care of your own soul and psyche before you give your time, energy, attention, observation, and so on. Otherwise, you can end up ‘psychically dying’ (term taken from the book Women Who Run With the Wolves).
Love starts beyond the mind, when we leave the Thinker behind to be rooted in Being. Ever found yourself rationalizing your relationship, friendship, or even new connections you make? Our mind likes to do that a lot. In relationships, it likes to find problems and impose limitations. From my experience, I found out that the solution is to come back to your heart and reconnect with the love you are creating within you, and bring it to the other person. These ‘Death’ phases (that’s how I call them – the “problems” that appear in a relationship) are there to help you level up, to bring the partnership to a new life and way of being together. A way of joy, bliss, and more love. The way.
Humanity is in a deep state of crisis (well, other than Climate Change, Violence, and the list can go on), the so-called ‘modern love’, in which most relationships turn into a source of pain and become dominated by problems and conflict. Especially in the Western culture, this is so recurrent! It’s our duty to keep the virtue of Love alive and recurrent in our lives.
So much of what we label as ‘love’ is actually attachment and expectations. Many forms of modern love contain conditions, showing that you want the other to fulfill certain ideas you have about them in your mind. I always laugh when I hear the term “unconditional love”. Love is meant to be unconditional, do we really have to add words like “unconditional” to make sure we understand the meaning?
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” One of my favorite definitions of love, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. When it comes to overcoming obstacles in relationships, I relate this to the idea that every time an obstacle appears, it’s the two of you versus the problem, not you versus each other.
Love, in relationships, is about choosing each other and putting the effort to make it work, not because you need each other or because you somehow feel you are not complete. You are whole already, and here is the cutest, loveliest story to remind you about this.
Love is meant to be selfless. As my best friend from the United States told me when I was struggling with what direction to take with the mindfulness club I was running on campus, “The highest, purest form of love is selflessness.” The first step is to give all to you, and then to others. You can’t pour from an empty cup either.
Love is the most powerful tool in the world. Believe it. It’s true. Responding with love is the best thing you can do. No matter the situation.
Love is contagious. It’s hard to give love without receiving it back. Eventually, you will.
Love has no exceptions. It is for all beings.
That’s it, a sum up of the 13 most important teachings about love I received this year.
See these teachings as dots. Without the experience, the ebbs and flows, and the obstacles that come along the relationship path, it’s difficult to make the connections between the dots and fully understand their meaning. I could have read tens of books and wrote articles about this topic and still not understand this emotion fully, in a romantic way. In fact, I did write a piece about my perspective on modern love here, but at the point of writing I was just idealizing things in my head.
There are so many types of love! Love for people, love for life, love for nature, love for the Earth… These are some examples of loves that can make our lives flourish. However, when our loves are not in order, the balance is lost. I find this concept so interesting. If you want to understand what I mean by that, below is an excerpt from a story from Oprah’s The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations book.
“The great theologian Augustine (…) said, ‘We sin when we have our loves out of order.’ So we all love a lot of things. We love family. We love money. We love a little affection. Status. Truth. And we all know that some loves are higher. We know that our love of family is higher than our love of money. Or our love of truth should be higher than our love of money. And if we’re lying to get money, we’re putting our loves out of order. And so sometimes just by our nature, we get them out of order. So, for example, if a friend tells you a secret, and you blab it at a dinner party, you’re putting your love of popularity above your love of friendship. And we know that’s wrong. That’s the wrong order. And so it’s useful to sit down and say, ‘What do I love? What are the things I really love? And in what order do I love them? Am I spending time on my highest love? Or am I spending time on a lower love?'” – David Brooks
So, in this regard, I encourage you to go out there and love. Love hard. It doesn’t have to be a boyfriend or girlfriend, because we all know that it takes a bit of luck to have the person you love romantically, love you back. But it can be your closest friend, your mother, dog, sibling, the strangers in the subway, or even the moon, stars, or the warmth of the sun. It can be the cashier that helps you bag your groceries or the teacher that gives you a piece of their knowledge.
As a good friend was telling me, nobody wishes evil for themselves, we all strive for love at the core of our being. The more I navigate through life, the more I realize that the purpose of it is to come back to that infinite source of love from within us. Love truly is the most powerful tool in the world. By opening your heart and letting yourself be vulnerable, love will change lives, including yours.
Further readings (on Love):
Tolle, Eckhart. “Chapter 8: Enlightened Relationships.” The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.
Shafak, Elif. The Forty Rules of Love.
De Botton, Alain. On Love.