Longing for True Love: How Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

By Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar| Posted: March 29, 2019

Love is not an emotion; it is your very existence. You can go on speaking about love and reading books about it, but love doesn’t happen like that.

In a relationship, we think of love as an emotion. We begin by saying, ‘Oh I love you so much!’  

Then we start demanding, “Look, I love you so much, so what have you done for me? Don’t you see I love you so much? Don’t you understand?” Our tone changes from love to demand. Demand destroys love.

Love and respect

In relationships, you’re mainly caught between two things. Love and respect. Love cannot stand distance. You cannot tolerate any secrets in love.

In the process, you violate boundaries. Although there are no boundaries in love, you forget another aspect, respect.  

Every ego expects respect. When there’s a fear of losing respect, you try to create a barrier and it’s this distance that isn’t accepted by love. Respect needs a distance, unless you’re like a child.

When you’re totally finished with small-mindedness then it isn’t a bother. When you’re like a spring of love, then there’s no distance at all. Until then there’s a barrier, an ego, and that ego demands respect.

At the same time, too much closeness isn’t accepted in love, either. When you gain love, you’re looking for respect; when you have respect, you’re looking for love. This goes on in life so subtly, we don’t even take notice of it, as we’re so caught up in external happenings and events.

We hook everything to an event, but do we look inside ourselves at what’s happening there? When we do, then what do we need for long-lasting relationships?

A plan for distance

The ancient rishis devised a plan for this. They knew that not everybody can be in a state of total bliss without caring whether someone respects them or not. They made a rule, although one loves someone very much, for one month in a year he/she has to keep apart, give space.

This is followed in some parts of India where the wife goes to her mother’s home for one month during the rainy season. Tradition says that husbands and wives cannot cross the same door during that one month. With distance, love grows.

When one is with their partner 24 hours a day, there’s no point. There’s no communication unsaid, there’s no longing. Love and longing have to go hand in hand.

Longing and love

Longing enriches love and love enriches longing. Both have to be there. In order to create that longing, a distance needs to be between you. You need to know the contrast and have experienced the contrast, in order to understand anything about love.

Life is a multitude of such contrasts. Relationships also inflict pain. When you go through that intense pain, either you can go into a negative state or turn that into a prayerful state. You increase the power of prayer within yourself. Pain makes prayer more powerful, because when there’s pain, you go deep within.

When you experience any pleasure, the eyes automatically close, like when you smell a flower or when you taste something very good. This indicates that the pleasure is coming from somewhere deep within. The external object was just a mirror to bring that out. It was just an apparatus to kindle something that’s within.

That’s why Jesus said the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven is within oneself. Buddha said the world is full of sorrow because when you know that sorrow, only then do you begin to search deep within yourself.

Outside the senses

Krishna says in a beautiful couplet in the Bhagavad Gita that intelligent people don’t see the sensory; they don’t get carried away by joy in the senses. The sign of intelligence is that you seek the source from which joy comes and once you’re in touch with it, there’s no fear whatsoever. There’s no hatred, jealousy, or anger in life.

You enjoy the pleasure in the world but don’t get immersed in it. When you’re in a relationship without the feverishness, then it sails smoothly. Feverishness destroys relationships. Feverishness takes you away from your center. And once you’ve moved away from the center, your partner loses respect for you. When respect is lost, the charm he/she saw in you is lost even without their knowledge.

This article was originally published on Thrive Global and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values, which collaborate on humanitarian initiatives worldwide. His programs have reached an estimated 370 million people in 155 countries.