Tiny Wisdom: How We Want to Be Loved

“Love does not care to define and is never in a hurry to do so.” -Charles Du Bos

Love is a tricky thing because it’s something we both give and receive—and yet it’s so much easier to dwell on the love we’re not getting than to recognize the love we’re not giving.

I used to have a simultaneously broad and narrow definition for love. Broad, because it encompassed a vast number of idealistic guidelines, and narrow because these limiting rules quickly labeled most relationships loveless.

If someone didn’t seem to offer me their unconditional understanding, or if they appeared to judge me, or if they somehow fell short of my rigid expectations, I assumed I was getting the short end of the love stick.

That wasn’t love, I’d reason. Love is patient, love is kind, and so on.

But just how loving is it to view people through this kind of microscope, dissecting their every action and measuring them against some impossible ideal?

How can we expect people to love us how we want to be loved if we’re too busy judging them to extend that same courtesy?

I’ve written and published many posts that define and quantify love—what it looks like in actions and exactly how we can express it. To some extent, I think this is helpful because it reminds us how to act kindly, compassionately, and non-judgmentally.

It takes something abstract and it gives it form and function.

But maybe real love is recognizing that love is never perfect. That every day, we all teeter between love and fear, wanting to give, but sometimes being less than understanding and kind; wanting to receive, but sometimes being less than vulnerable and open.

I haven’t always given the people I love the benefit of the doubtor the best of me. At times, I’ve been so busy looking for signs that someone doesn’t care that I made it nearly impossible to show them how much I do.

Today I choose to love less rigidly—to give, to take, and do both with less judgment. How will you love today?

Photo by mattieb

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • love is all we need

     This is a great post, but also very difficult to talk about.  What if your family member has given you crap for 22 years, hardly does anything nice, and constantly cusses you out even though you have shown her so much love over the years?  Eventually it gets very tiring and impacts your life negatively, and the best answer might be to walk away.

  • Hi there,

    You bring up a great point. I think ultimately, we need to recognize when its time to end unhealthy relationships. I did not intend to suggest staying in abusive situations, but rather loving less judgmentally in healthy relationships with other people who happen to be imperfect, just like we are. Thank you for making this point!


  • love is all we need

     Thanks, Lori!   I will love today with less judgment. 🙂

  • today ~ i choose to not dwell on the love 
    i’m not getting from some people, 
    to recognize the love i’m not giving them, and 
    to love them with less judgment. ~ sb

  • Roger

    Thanks for this!  I also want to add, from my own experience, sometimes we have a certain idea about how love will materialize in our lives.  What it looks like, tastes like and feels like.  I know I spent years wanting to be loved in a certain, unrealistic way.  Like a flowing river, once you stop trying to control the direction of love into your life, you are open to letting it flow in and around you, riding on its back peacefully downstream.

  • In the past 6 months or so, I have learned how to love openly, without assumptions, expectations or conditions. This has been so freeing for me. To leave my ego behind and just be in the moment and to Love.

  • Great post. This is such a fine line to walk in new dating relationships, which is what I’m finding out now. As we get to know someone new, we see how they love and hopefully, get some hints about how they want to be loved, and hopefully let them know how we want to be loved while also being loving to them…all without giving or expecting more than is healthy. Then we do have to decide if the way we both want/give love is going to work together. But working on being receptive as well as assertive in our ways of loving, while also letting go of expectation that the other person be different, is what healthy dating is. The hard part, for me, is, when I see that the other person is not able to receive or give love in a way that complements my ways, is to walk away without hard feelings. It’s not that they’re flawed, only that our styles didn’t match well. So hard, but so important in choosing a healthy love relationship!

  • Randy

    I think I would change, “But maybe real love is recognizing that love is never perfect.” to “But maybe real love is recognizing that our love is never perfect.” Because it isn’t, and neither is anyone else’s.  Still, in recognizing our own imperfection, we can have the possibility of embracing the perfection inherent in imperfection.  On human terms, what could be more perfect?

  • I love the river analogy. Sounds like letting go, in a way–being less controlling and more receptive. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Beautiful. =)  Was there something that helped you learn this?

  • Such a kind thing to do–recognize that someone else’s style isn’t “wrong” just because it’s different. I think the world be a far more loving place if we could all do this!

  • Habit72502

    I sure do hope this is where I’m supposed to leave the comment Lori!! I’m absolutely loving the daily messages I get from Tiny Buddha, and believe reading your posts are a great way to start my day… Thank you! 🙂