We suffer not because of love, but because of the lack of it.

We’ve heard so many times that love hurts that we take it for granted. What’s more, we have closed our souls for fear of suffering. Buddhists, however, take a completely different view. We suffer not because of love, but because of the lack of it. What causes suffering is a delusion, an illusion that we erroneously call love. Here then are the four characteristics of true love, according to Buddhist teachings.

Loving gentleness
Love does not scream, shout, or be angry. It doesn’t ruffle the hair on its head or slap you. It doesn’t snap at you, scold you, poke you with its finger or hinder you. On the contrary, love will always wrap you in loving gentleness. It will make you feel safe, open up and show you as you are. Your vulnerability will never be its secret weapon or a boot on your neck.

Love will not leave you crying in a corner but will rush to wipe away your tears with kind words and tender hugs. It will come all the way from the other side of town to bring you your umbrella, lost in the car, lest the rain get you wet. She won’t suddenly disappear from your life, leaving you prey to endless questions and sleepless nights just because you didn’t do what she wanted. However, love wants nothing from you. It just wants to give it to you.

She wants to give you joy and she wants to give you as many smiles as possible. One a second, if possible. Love doesn’t mean heavy words thrown in the middle of the living room and restless sleep in the other corner of the bed. No red eyes or lack of appetite. Love is neither “of” nor “woe”. Love is a permanent state of joy. When you live in love, you are finally yourself.

Love won’t put your clothes at the door in the middle of the night because you’re out of a job. It won’t tell you to make do when you ask for help. It won’t pretend to have a lot of work to do when you’re feeling bad. He’ll hold your hand not only when you’re all dolled up and pretty, turning heads in the street, but also when you’ve got a stuffy nose and red eyes and smell like guttural. Your guttural will be hers too. And so will your every problem and joy, however great or small.