He’s so perfect. He’s everything you ever wanted.
And you can’t have him.
Maybe he’s with someone else. Maybe he lives far away. Maybe there are a thousand reasons it would never work.
You can’t change anything. So you’re stuck. Loving, longing, praying for a miracle.
Perhaps this isn’t the time to bring up Buddhism.
But I’m going to. So hang on.
The nature of desire isn’t a topic you hear much at dinner parties. But it’s a big topic in Buddhist circles. Just ask Orlando Bloom, one of the biggest celebrity Buddhists, when you bump into him next.
Human beings want things. It’s our nature. We want what we want, and we want it a LOT.
It’s painful when we can’t have what we want. And we’re not even talking about love.
Think about a child’s pain over not getting that toy for Christmas. An adult’s pain over seeing the promotion she wanted going to someone else. The pain of finding the most beautiful outfit you’ve ever seen on sale for 75% off … but it’s not in your size.
In fact, you could say a lot of the emotional pain we experience in our daily lives comes from not getting the things we most desire.
So what do we do?
We get frustrated. We tell ourselves we never get what we want. It always goes to someone else. Luck passes us by. Life is endless disappointment. You might as well just … go live in a cave with a bag over your head.
Orlando Bloom wouldn’t do that.
Not that I can speak for him, but I suspect Orlando knows a different solution to suffering, based on his spiritual practice.
In the immortal words of “Frozen,” he would just let it go.
“What? Let it go?! But everything I’ve ever wanted is on the line! How can you expect me to let all that go?”
Wanting anything desperately has consequences.
The tighter we hold onto our desires, the more pain we experience.
The solution, according to Buddhist philosophy, is to have a loose grip. Don’t hold onto your desires with a death grip. Let them rest lightly in your hands. If they fall through your fingers, let them go. Peace matters more than pain.
But what does that mean for relationships then?
Should we all just give up on our quest for love?
Pretend we’re beyond caring because we’re all so into inner peace?
But if our quest for love is causing us pain, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions.
Is it really necessary to suffer for love?
Surely the measure of love isn’t how much we hurt when we can’t be with someone.
Surely the measure of love is how willing we are to accept and appreciate everything about a person…
Even their reluctance to be in a relationship with us.
That’s the Buddhist lesson. Life is suffering. You can’t get around it. All you can do is learn to see things as they really are.
If you can stand and look compassionately at your situation, you can avoid the trap of running too fast towards things or away from them.
Going back to the example of really, really, REALLY wanting to be with someone you can’t have, you might ask yourself:
“What does that tell me about myself?”
Maybe it tells you that you’d rather fall for someone you can idealize at a distance rather than someone who’s imperfect and messy but available.
Maybe it tells you that you need drama to feel important.
Maybe it tells you that you feel vulnerable when you’re single, because you worry you’re not lovable.
I have no idea. I’m not in your shoes. You are the only one who knows the truth about who you are and how you feel.
But I do know that wanting anything really, really badly is more than an invitation to be let down.
It’s a learning opportunity.
It’s an opportunity to dig under the desire.
It’s an opportunity to find out more about yourself. What does that desire reveal about what seems to be lacking in your life?
Because it’s never about the man.
It’s about how you wish you could feel.
Perhaps you believe that, if only you had him, you would feel something you don’t feel right now.
What is that feeling? Can you describe it? Is there no other way to get that feeling aside from being with him?
If you can tackle those questions, then you’re taken an important step on the road to spiritual awakening.
You’ve increased your self-awareness. You understand something about yourself you didn’t before.
And you don’t need to be a Buddhist to find that invaluable.