Over the years, I've learned quite a bit about that quirky, heady emotion we call "love" from the relationships that have shaped my life. I would like to clarify that by relationships, I am not referring just to man-woman relationships, I am including the gamut of human interactions I have had over the years -- family relationships, friendships, work relationships -- the whole lot! (Dog and cat lovers, sorry, but I've never had pets, so no human-animal bonding here!)
Some of these "lessons" I learned the hard way, after heartbreak and angst, some of these I learned through a happier and more joyful route. Both kinds of relationships have taught me something, and for that reason I have no regrets about having been through any of them -- even the negative ones. So here's what I learned.
#1 Love is about you
Yup! Love is about you. It isn't about the other person. Being loving makes your experience of people and the world around beautiful. It adds sweetness to your life. And it is only when sweetness enters your life that you can spread it around to others around you. So, being loving or falling in love is really just the most sensible thing to do!
Consciously nourishing love as a quality within us naturally creates the right ambience for better relationships with everyone around us. Two wonderful quotes by Osho on love capture the essence of what I am saying: "If you love yourself, you love others. If you hate yourself, you hate others. In relationship with others, it is only you mirrored," and "Giving love is the real beautiful experience, because then you are an emperor. Getting love is a very small experience. It is the experience of a beggar."
#2 True love knows no conditions
You can't love and place conditions at the same time. Love can only be unconditional. Otherwise it is just a transaction based on mutually acceptable terms. Only if we can break out of this "terms and conditions" mode of living can love become unconditional. As I read recently in a beautiful post about unconditional love, "It is just that there are conditions and there is love."
Of course, being loving doesn't mean you become a pushover. When you truly love, you are willing to do what is necessary in a given situation for someone -- even when it may sometimes be unpleasant for your companion. This is true love.
#3 Possessiveness destroys love
Love and attachment aren't the same thing. True love blossoms when you set two conditions: freedom and trust. Without these two important elements, jealousy and insecurity couple with possessiveness to create a toxic mixture. Possessiveness breeds attachment and destroys love. I am not one for advocating detachment however! My point is that when freedom and trust come together, we can be completely involved in our love affair without entangling ourselves in it, and this offers a powerful basis to experience true love.
So, what happens if that trust is broken? Well, back to the first point: Love is about you. To be loving makes your life pleasant. If someone chooses not to love, well, that just reflects on their life. It needn't influence yours.