How do you develop deep, lasting love?

You know those feelings you get when you fall in love: The zinging sensations, the floating on air, the exhilaration, the sparkling newness of it all. Not to mention the physical attraction that hits you like a Mack truck.

The media knows all about these feelings. The media hands the pursuit of love to us in the form of novels, articles, moviessongsgimmicks, advertisements, junk mail…we are inundated with constant reminders of the love we’ll experience if only we find the right person, lose weight, experience that first kiss, buy that diamond, go on that vacation, spend the money. The media knows all about falling in love, and they jab endlessly at our tender emotions and egos.

Fast forward to AFTER—Always Forever Turns into End of Romance.

So you find your perfect love, but AFTER that, the initial spark wears off, and you discover that the person you thought you were so deeply in love with and made you gloriously happy and fulfilled you sexually is just another person with needs and wants that you might not be able to fill. You’re just not happy anymore. The spark is gone. It’s time to get out of this relationship, you decide, and find someone else who will make you gloriously happy. AFTER might take months or years to occur.

But there’s more to love than finding someone who makes you feel like gold. AFTER the shine is dulled, the question becomes, how do you retain deep, lasting love?

Much of it is realizing that the initial crazy rapture we feel is not really deep love at all, but a surface attraction and excitement of something new and different. Or it could be the challenge of the conquest. Or maybe we run after love, intent on filling a void within us, however temporarily.

Whatever the reason, we realize that deep and intimate love for others has to start with love and respect for ourselves. Only when we can love ourselves, unconditionally and steadily, can we develop real love for someone else—a depth of adoration that transcends surface appreciation, a delight in giving to that person without expecting anything back.

A love like this develops over time and takes work, but to have it is the greatest joy on earth. If you attain it, don’t let go. True love is hard to find.