The Truth About “True Love.”

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Do you believe in love?

I’m talking about that deep down, life changing, earth shaking, always-and-forever kind of love—the stuff of poetry and legend.

Many people are skeptical, and for good reason. Today’s culture isn’t very fertile ground for romance.  With social media, text messaging and online dating, we’ve revolutionized communication but we’ve lost the art of relationship. There are very few success stories. (Sometimes it seems like there are very few people having real, face-to-face conversations anymore!)

But I believe. Scratch that. I know.

True love is real—deep, unconditional, everlasting love. The reason it is so rare is because it is so misunderstood.

Most people’s idea of “true love” looks something like this: Mr. or Mrs. Right is waiting out there somewhere, “the One” they are destined to be with. And that special someone is looking for them too, and it’s only a matter of time before they meet each other—and of course, they’ll both live happily ever after.


Happily ever after doesn’t exist. And God didn’t hand pick one special person just for you. In fact, the whole idea of finding fulfillment in someone else is an illusion.

The truth is, love can only be found within.

Most people who are looking for love “out there” are actually just running away from loneliness. They constantly settle for less than what they want, and less than what they deserve, because their greatest fear is to be alone, grow old alone and die alone.

The fear of loneliness prevents us from experiencing real intimacy. True love lies beyond that fear. We have to face what Louis C.K. calls the “forever empty,” the unquenchable sadness deep within us; the ever present knowledge of our own mortality, that in the end we all face death all alone.

The truth is that real love requires real inner work that most people just aren’t interested in. It requires that we first be happy in our solitude; that we come to know ourselves, accept ourselves and love ourselves. We have to find our peace of mind, find our purpose, our passion, our joie de vivre.

It requires that we lay down the ego’s defenses and be naked and vulnerable; that we give up our planning and fantasizing about the future and live in the Now. Only then are we really ready to love. When you fully grasp that tomorrow is not guaranteed—that this moment is truly all that we have—there is nothing to do but give everything you’ve got, expecting nothing in return.

In fact, you know in advance that your heart will be broken. You will be lied to, you will be taken for granted; you will be hurt and disappointed. Sooner or later, between here and your deathbed, you will have to say goodbye. You know it, you accept it, and you love anyway.

Real love is divine. It comes from a relationship with God, a dance with emptiness which takes us beyond the human self, beyond the ego’s petty games to know a timeless love; to taste the fullness of joy.

What we call “true love” is that rare and sacred union that happens when two people join in this dance together.

It is a friendship, a love affair and an act of worship. Passion, lust, affection, caring, trust, respect and devotion all become part of an exquisite surrender. Lovers merge with each other and with the vast, wild universe. Neither knows for sure if it will last a weekend or a lifetime. It doesn’t matter.

All that matters is this moment of oneness—holy and beautiful.

It contains eternity.


Like elephant Love on Facebook.

Ed: Catherine Monkman
Image: Unsplash


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anonymous Mar 17, 2016 11:19pm

Beautiful words!

anonymous Mar 17, 2016 9:10am

Absolutely love this article. But then I watched Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes in Romeo + Juliet and spent the next two days dying inside for someone to look at me the way Romeo looked at Juliet and vice versa. Can you have both? Can you ascribe to your philosophy but have the fairy tale love all in one? Pleases say yes! I've been holding out for 31 years and am pretty sure I can wait forever if that what it takes!

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 1:56pm

"The truth is that real love requires real inner work that most people just aren’t interested in."

Nailed it. This is exactly why I just lost my partner.

anonymous Jun 9, 2015 11:20am

I love, truly love the connection, the chemistry you experience , when you let go and immerse yourself in those moments. It’s living in the present at its finest! But Love can’t be found or picked. Love already exists in each one of us. So love yourself with loving kindness and the universe will provide and reciprocate that same loving kindness! You will hurt when, but you will still love anyway!

anonymous May 1, 2015 12:07am

You just said it all. I try, often in vain, to explain love this way. Instead, today I will share this. Could not have said it better myself (and I have tried!). Thank you for the beautiful article and my renewed faith in the human race.

anonymous Feb 21, 2015 5:06pm

So on point, one of the best descriptions of true love I've ever read.

anonymous Feb 18, 2015 12:12am

The b eauty with-in a person, the glowing ora from the inside.. How it really reveals the true colors so we can see the exisiing soul…. Not our outer flesh …. which looks like a sea shell…. Women complementsl lifes sight…for our eyes to see the beauty of such curves, and structure….most appreciate thank you truly….Nancy Bucks "

anonymous Nov 18, 2014 10:35am

Powerfully well said, Ben. It is true that we have many misunderstandings about what love is and unloving feelings that are disguised as love in our culture. Buckminster Fuller said, "I am a verb!" Love is not a noun – a thing or a person, but a feeling one has. Loving is personal and private. I open MY heart and feel My spirit flow towards others and sense their loving feelings through MY heart. I describe unconditional love for adults as finding the conditions that I can feel loving toward another. It is the flow of loving feelings from deep in our soul that is the verb that is at the core of our existence. There is no love to find or to possess. There is only love to express and the ability to keep our hearts and minds in alignment with facilitating the flow of love through us.

anonymous Oct 2, 2014 12:58pm

the best article about love I have ever read. All I want after reading this is to love, more and more 🙂 thank you

anonymous Sep 19, 2014 7:34pm

Just lovely!

anonymous Sep 18, 2014 3:41am

Finally, thank you! People totally don't get it. Recently my friend told me: "You know, my parents fight and are unhappy, but they are just for each other, they love each other. I know, because they can't live without each other and separately they're even worse". Wow.

And you know what the real bullshit is? This quotation or whatever it is posted everywhere by pseudo-romantics: "Don't spend your life with someone you can live with. Spend it with the one you can't live without". Seriously? Is there anything more than mutual addiction? And what happens to you if he/she dies, leaves, just disappears? Why not "Spend it with the one you want to live with"?

I want a man I can live without, and I want him to be able to live without me too. I just want to WANT to live with him. I want us to have freedom and to decide that we WANT to live with each other. When you can't live with someone it means you have no choice. And there's no love without freedom.

anonymous Jun 23, 2014 6:52pm

Wish I'd read this 34 years ago. Would have made a world of difference in my life and my soul.

anonymous May 29, 2014 8:01pm

This sounds good, and is very beautifully put, but a lot of it is BS. You do not know how to love unless you know what love is. Love comes from God, Jesus, the Holy spirit. If you cannot connect to that love, than you don't know how to love a person. It is other wise just self seeking

anonymous Mar 4, 2014 6:32pm

This is an incredibly difficult subject to gather such beautiful thoughts towards, and I am just super inspired by your writing here!! I’ve considered many times how love, true love is not only possible or attainable, But no it means going in for the heartbreak. I follow the logic, and I believe in the work. As a healer who utilizes massage therapy towards spreading these same beliefs and further towards the similar goal of spreading the concept of love throughout the world I applaud you & the wonderful article here. Great work, keep it up!! “Res Firma Mitescre Nescit” Aloha

anonymous Mar 3, 2014 6:36pm


anonymous Mar 3, 2014 3:16pm

Bullshit! I agree that true love is very rare these days. I dont think most people comprehend what it is~therefore they are not capable of feeling it. I think people feel attraction, attached, comfortable & possessive, but love is deeper than that….. the only kind of love there is, is unconditional. That doesnt mean that I love you and you love me~that would be a condition, right?…Unconditional is I love you, even if you dont love me….Its a genuine feeling felt by one pure heart that is truly capable of giving all it has to one person~willing to be completely vulnerable….there are no rules, no games, no boundaries, walls or limits…. It means you accept someone for the imperfect person they are.You be understanding of all their flaws, never judge them, be able to truly forgive, when necessary……The best way I can describe it, is the love you feel for your child…you love your child no matter what….no expectations, no ifs, buts, or whens… doesnt matter what happens~ you love them thru it. They always no youre there for them…your heart is their home…its where theyre safe…its where theyre loved & wanted…its where theyre welcome & accepted…its where they belong….Thats true love~ Pure, genuine and almost extinct….so if you got it, f**kin APPRECIATE IT….because when true hearts get broken bad enough~its devastating ~it makes them reluctant to open themselves up like that again…Peoples lack of appreciation for other people, their inability to be empathetic and their selfishness~those are the reasons that true love is dying….its sad…because everyone should be able to find someone that they love enough to spend the rest of their lives with…but nobody knows how to love anymore, so we all need to get comfortable with ourselves, because in the end that the only one youll have!!

    anonymous Jun 23, 2014 2:47pm

    Wow!! I appreciate your description of true love, that has been very spot on in our marriage. We've been married for 30 years and so much of what you said is exactly how it is, a love that requires vulnerability. I've always been a bit baffled by the concept that love fades, therefore people then move on as they say. My love for our children never fades, my love for my departed grandparents and father has never faded, so why would the love for my husband be any different? I tell my husband that I would change his diapers, sponge bathe and spoon feed him if it ever came to that, and I would never feel it a burden, if anything I would feel it my privilege to care for the love of my life. This is a topic of great interest for us lately.

anonymous Mar 3, 2014 11:17am

Many people bale out just as it gets to the place they need to work harder. There are people that want this fantasy relationship but that is not a reality . Relationships are work . You can't force someone to give up who they are for you . Why would you want to? I am thankful for the resationships I have and I dont complain bitch or whine about my needs . I find appreciation for my loves everyday . I won't be in a relationship with lies , hypocrisy and back stabbing . I deserve better.

anonymous Mar 3, 2014 12:18am

Love it! True in every point.

anonymous Feb 10, 2014 5:38pm

I really liked the article, and it is a path I have been on myself – making sure I am together and strong in myself before I delve into soul dancing with another. But I don't believe it is absolute that "In fact, you know in advance that your heart will be broken. You will be lied to, you will be taken for granted; you will be hurt and disappointed." While all relationships will go through tough times, I don't believe all descend into lying, etc. But the rest of it, spot on. Seems so many people think someone else is going to make us all right, when in truth we have to do that for ourselves first.

anonymous Jan 27, 2014 8:12pm

"Love is not enough", comes to mind with this article. It is fluid, ever-changing and sometimes elusive. Someone once told me,'You have to out into the world with your own full bucket". Absolutely! Don't expect someone to fill your bucket for you and don't try to fill theirs. 100% + 100% is correct.

anonymous Jan 14, 2014 6:46pm


anonymous Jan 13, 2014 4:41pm

This is beautiful! I've discovered so much about myself in my solitude. Some things that I myself found to be shocking, and thankfully I like it, I enjoy it, and treasure as a new jewel in my treasure box. Love does take work on both sides, mixing one person who has found themselves,and knows what they want, how they want it, and is open to new experiences…mixed with someone who is still clueless….will never work…been there done that!

anonymous Dec 11, 2013 2:04pm

Beautiful. Thank you Mr Ben 🙂

Much Love and Light,


anonymous Dec 5, 2013 4:32pm

So well put!

I have created a symbol that visualizes true Love. 🙂
You can find it here:

Here is my input – taken from my website:

In our idea about romantic relationship we may experience Love (as a quantity) to be consumed.
As a projection (idea) of the mind Love seems to arise then fade away, because there is no lasting connection to our heart. This idea of Love is overshadowed by fear.
The truth of Love is that it is ever lasting.

This begins with our self. It is not about understanding but about emotions. It is about getting connected to our radiant potential – with the love within and for our self. When we deeply connect with our true Being then a loving connection is born. Our heart is the potential infinite space from which this Love evolves and unfolds.

anonymous Dec 2, 2013 10:56pm

Good job bro. You have a great ability to articulate your awarness.

From my experience true Love is not a feeling. Don’t get me wrong it can be felt, but ultimately true love is an expression of our inner self.. So to truelly love, one must truelly express love. Keep Loving 🙂

anonymous Nov 25, 2013 4:12pm

Thanks for these thoughts. I’ve recently realized I love too easily and have fear of being alone. I think about this a lot and am trying to figure out the bridge from being uncomfortable alone to content. I went to a wine bar for dinner and a glass of wine last wknd by myself for the first time. I almost turned around as i was walking in but I didn’t. It wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined it’d be! Baby steps I guess.

anonymous Nov 8, 2013 2:15pm

That is it! Thank you so much for posting!

anonymous Oct 19, 2013 8:39am

Good reading. Just leave out the god stuff, if we want a heavenly experience we better not wait for divine intervention!

anonymous Sep 28, 2013 2:58am

Thank you Ben for expressing what many of us, including myself, have felt and feel for so long. Thank you for the courage to share and for reaching deep inside and touching our hearts. Indeed, learning to accept ourselves, learning to love ourselves and being 100% with who we are, not being concerned with others' opinion of who we should be, and just striving to be more of ourselves than we ever have been, is the ultimate reality. From that place of contentment, love will manifest abundantly with others. Blessings, Juanita.

    anonymous Sep 30, 2013 8:21am

    Well said, Juanita! Thank you for your lovely words.

    Love and blessings,

    ~ Ben

anonymous Sep 28, 2013 2:45am

Hi, Ben! I have been trying to explain this to others, as I myself am trying to find true love in myself. It all started with a book that I highly suggest to everyone. It is called The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. It changed my life and my idea on how love works. After many not so awesome relationships mostly entered into out of boredom or loneliness, I have spent the last year being very nearly celibate and trying to focus on myself. I had a wedding for myself last year, full ceremony with vows and everything. Writing those vows to myself set a whole new path for how I could live and love. I have quit settling in many different ways, and have been learning that the most valuable lesson one can learn is how to love and be at home in oneself. Once that happens, everything else seems to fall into place. I think society glorifies being a couple and looks down upon people who do things alone. If society didn't paint being alone as such a negative thing, I think more people would be willing to try it. My comment is long winded, but I just want you to know that this concept has been on my brain far more than I can say and I appreciate your time in sharing this with everyone. thank you!

    anonymous Sep 30, 2013 8:20am

    Thank you Vivian! Your comment is beautiful and I am blessed by it. I love Don Miguel, he is a fabulous teacher, and a writer with the gift of making spiritual mysteries easy to understand.

    Blessings to you as unfold the wondrous love within you!

    ~ Ben

anonymous Sep 28, 2013 12:45am

Beautiful piece of work… I too know that "forever empty" feeling… I am still searching for the magic in me but this gives me new hope – Christine

    anonymous Sep 30, 2013 8:01am

    Thank you Christine. Wherever you are in your search, is right where you should be. Try something new every week; a new recipe, a new book, a new hobby or craft, a new kind of coffee, wine, beer whatever. Go out someplace you've never been before. Join a class. Anything to broaden your horizons, meet new people, have new experiences. This is how we grow. And it's fun.

    May the magic in you be unveiled in all of it's glory…

    ~ Ben

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 11:57pm

love liberates!

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 8:32pm


anonymous Sep 27, 2013 7:21pm

THIS is BEAUTIFUL! and needs to be read by every American! Hell, every human! But especially every American! 😉 I think we are so pre-conditioned to think we have to be a certain way and our relationships have to be a certain way. Bullshit, as you say. This especially rang true: "Most people who are looking for love “out there” are actually just running away from loneliness. ".

I went through (a very amicable) divorce, and a friend did not understand/approve – she said "You will end up sad and lonely if you divorce". Wow, I mean, really? That she went through a horrible divorce herself and is probably battling things I have no concept of did not elude me. I am on my own now, and loving it. Am I lonely? sure, sometimes, but I was lonely while I was married too. 🙂

Dang, I gotta read this article again now. I'm all hyped up and inspired! Thank you!!!

    anonymous Sep 28, 2013 1:11pm

    Thank you Sandy! As we undergo the inner journey, we discover what love means to us, how it feels and what it looks like to us as individuals. It's intensely personal. There can be no "one way" that relationships work. It's different for all of us, though the essence is the same.

    I hope you enjoy the freedom of your solitude, my dear.

    ~ Ben

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 4:41pm


This is a revelation. Thank you very much!

    anonymous Sep 30, 2013 8:17am

    Thank you Madelyn. I appreciate your words!

    ~ Ben

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 3:40pm

What a wonderful and well written article, thank you.

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 3:35pm


anonymous Sep 27, 2013 9:00am

This is so beautifully-written. These two paragraphs in particular resounded so strongly with me, as though you read my thoughts and put it into words. I've been working towards exactly that – knowing who I am and what I am meant to do. I broke the pattern of jumping into continuous relationships earlier this year when I realised I was being spurred by a fear of loneliness. This is my eighth month being single and I've never been happier, peaceful and excited about the future.

"The fear of loneliness prevents us from experiencing real intimacy. True love lies beyond that fear. We have to face what Louis C.K. calls the “forever empty,” the unquenchable sadness deep within us; the ever present knowledge of our own mortality, that in the end we all face death all alone.

The truth is that real love requires real inner work that most people just aren’t interested in. It requires that we first be happy in our solitude; that we come to know ourselves, accept ourselves and love ourselves. We have to find our peace of mind, find our purpose, our passion, our joie de vivre."

    anonymous Sep 28, 2013 12:16pm

    Thank you so much. There is a joy that can only be found in solitude, and when two such joyful individuals can come together in mutual attraction, love and respect… well, the whole universe rejoices.

    I wish you nothing but the deepest, truest kind of love, Seeker.

    ~ Ben

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 8:50am

Absolutely beautiful! These words came from Spirit without doubt. Please continue to allow these beautiful message to flow through you to the world.

    anonymous Sep 28, 2013 12:14pm

    You're right Deborah, I am not really the author so much as the transcriber. 😉

    I'll continue to write as long as the inspiration continues to come. Thank you for your comment.

    ~ Ben

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 8:03am

Love love LOVE this! Thank you for expressing this sentiment so beautifully!

    anonymous Sep 27, 2013 8:23am

    Thank you for reading, and for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it.

    ~ Ben

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 7:55am

Thank you! I officiate at weddings and also am in a course for spiritual direction. One of my teachers sent us an interview by Louis C.K. yesterday. He spoke about how kids are always connected to their phones, etc. and how disconnected we all are to others and, especially to ourselves!

    anonymous Sep 30, 2013 8:16am

    Yes, that interview is pure genius. I link to it in the article above.

    Thank you for your comment Barbara. Much love to you!

    ~ Ben

    anonymous Jun 23, 2014 2:11pm

    We've been contemplating the concept of the disconnectedness we see, it can feel so palpable at times. But, your comment about being disconnected from ourselves really rings true. It is so easy to become out of touch with ourselves, unable to understand our own feelings, that this gap between all of us seems to become bigger and bigger. Lots of food for thought there!

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 4:21am

Eloquent as always. I was so happy to read something with your by-line by the title with my coffee this morning 😉

And what a deeply thought out piece, too. As someone who's always been in touch with my "inner loneliness"—even from a very, very young age—I wholeheartedly agree that relationships survive and thrive when two people are content being individuals first and foremost. Lovely, Ben.

    anonymous Sep 27, 2013 8:22am

    Thank you Jennifer! I think alot of us writers are in touch with the "forever empty" (sometimes too much so!)

    With love,

    ~ Ben

    anonymous Sep 29, 2013 7:48pm

    We may die as individuals, but true love is marked by surrendering. Through surrender we can touch the Devine, connect intimately with another and, at least for that moment, lose ourself. I learned that the other person does not necessarily have the same experience.

      anonymous Sep 30, 2013 8:14am

      Exactly Peter. Eternity, immortality, infinity… these things lie beyond the personal realm, in the universal. "I" may taste, or glimpse the Divine, but only the total surrender of the "self" brings us fully into Love, boundless and never ending. And even if it is only for a moment, that moment is infinite.

      And even if the other is still holding on, holding back, it can't keep you from your surrender, your immersion, your ecstatic dissolution.

      Peace, my friend.

      ~ Ben

      anonymous Feb 12, 2015 3:53am

      Nicely said Peter. The other person does not always have the same experience. Is it then "true"?

        anonymous Feb 23, 2015 2:10am

        What ben said is ture. But i think there is distinguish between true love and real love. Love is devine, true. To truely love someone u have to know the inner loneliness or forever emptiness thats lies with in so u can undersatand that only true love can fill up these space. When u truely love someone by ur own undersatnding of urself u try to fill up that person forever emptiness . Like ben said doesnt matter that person lie to u or make u hurt u still love that person. Its a real love. Which u have for that person. But it doesnt mean u r in true love . when that other person also has that real love for u truely then u both in a true love. Thats my understanding. I think ben missed out a critical poient anout true love. The ultimate and true understanding or knowing between two person those who r in love to one another.True love never ment to be single it ment to be purual. What i mean is its not enough to find the love with in urself unless u find it because u want to give it to someone and same way u want to fill up urself with that someones love. When u r in ture love its devine its magic. Even if u try u cant lie or hurt, other person too ,cuz then u lie and hurt urself and it ll not be devine and magic if u or ur other person do so. It means u never realy ultimately knew or understood each other.

Prachi Rathore Jul 12, 2018 7:03am

This is the likeable blog of true love. Your blog was interesting and encouraging. Thank you so much for writing it. true love

William Billy Evans Mar 25, 2018 6:44pm

I have a true love. Her name is Lydia Marie Fagan. I love her just as much as she loves me.

Ngum Sylvanie Penn Jan 9, 2017 5:40pm

I Love this, God bless u so much.

Sherry Burton Gleason Dec 26, 2016 7:02pm


Melina Powers Sep 11, 2016 10:06pm

"What we call “true love” is that rare and sacred union that happens when two people join in this dance together." <3

David Huynh Aug 6, 2016 10:50pm

True love does exist! One needs to be in love at least once to truly believe in it.

Sharon Reef Jun 21, 2016 6:10pm

One true thing

Bridget Balsamo Apr 23, 2016 1:32pm

Incredibly accurate and authentic.

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Ben Neal

Ben Neal is a father, a musician, a mystic poet and lover of Zen. He lives with his beloved in Kansas City, writing and teaching meditation and experiential spirituality, tending his garden, raising his son and riding the wave of global Awakening. He loves to have passionate philosophical discussions on the nature of ultimate reality over hand crafted Belgian-style ale. He aims to suck the marrow out of life, and infect the world with unbounded Love and Freedom. Connect with him on Facebook or on his blog.