“True love doesn’t happen right away; it’s an ever-growing process. It develops after you’ve gone through many ups and downs, when you’ve suffered together, cried together, laughed together.” – Ricardo Montalban.

There are many definitions of love. For some, love is that feeling of euphoria and excitement you experience when you see that special person. For others, their understanding of love is derived from movies or fairy tales they grew up listening to. But what is true love? How do you know that what you are experiencing is real love and not just desire [1]?

According to the teachings of the Buddha, there are four elements that make up true love. These four elements when practiced will help you understand your journey in regard to true love [2].

Four Elements of True Love

1. Maitri
The first of four elements of true love, Maitri, means kindness. True love is not just loving someone but also doing it in the right way. Showing kindness entails making effort to understand how your significant other feels and what they are going through. This takes observation and understanding your partner on a deeper level.

How to develop this element
The key to unlocking this element is understanding how to meet your loved one’s needs no matter how difficult it may be. Also, listening to your loved one’s opinions without being judgmental is paramount.

2. Karuna
“You learn to like someone when you find out what makes them laugh, but you can never truly love someone until you find out what makes them cry.”- John Mayer.

Karuna, or compassion, is the second element of true love. Compassion means to understand the emotional state of oneself or another person. Compassion goes beyond empathy as it seeks to alleviate the suffering of another. Only when you truly understand your loved one’s suffering, will you be able to ease their burden [3].

How to develop this element
Ensure that communication channels are always open between you and your loved one. Ask your loved one what troubles them and if there’s a way you can alleviate their pain.

3. Mudita
“There’s no way to happiness – happiness is the way.” – Thick That Hahn.

This element connects all four together. It simply means happiness or joy. Happiness is a state of pleasure or contentment.

True love should fill you with real joy. When you are in love with someone, you experience happiness and fulfillment. Once it is gone, it is no longer true love.

How to develop this element
Practice being happy through the positive state of your partner. Invest in what makes your partner happy. If watching a movie or swimming puts a smile on your significant other’s face, make out time for it.

More importantly, invest in your happiness as well for it is easier to share happiness with your loved one when you feel joy in yourself [4].

4. Upeksha
When you love someone, you love the person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.” – Leo Tolstoy.

Upeksha, or freedom, is the final of the four elements that make up true love. When love is true, each person would feel free to grow and develop in their own way.

When your love is characterized by this quality, each individual will share opinions and ideas without feeling uncomfortable or afraid that the other person might be judgmental.

How to develop this element
Spend some time apart from your partner without trying to find out where they are and what they are doing. Go out with friends, practice your hobbies, do the things that make you happy individually. More importantly, invest in each other’s thoughts and ideas.


  1. The Meaning of True Love“, Paired Life. September, 2017.
  2. The Four Elements Of True Love, According To Buddhism“, Awareness Act. December, 2018.
  3. “What Is Compassion and How Can It Improve My Life?“, Psychology Today. April, 2008.
  4. The Four Elements of True Love According to Buddha“, Uplift. September, 2017.
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