It is very difficult to learn to love. If an object of fascination or some kind of dream or promise is presented to you, you might fall in love. But it is very hard to love if it means purely giving love without expecting anything in return. It is very difficult to do that. We usually expect a person to fulfill our desires and conform to our hero worship, and we can only fall in love if we think our expectations will be fulfilled. So in most of our love affairs, our love is conditional. It is more of a business deal than actual love….
In the mahayana tradition of Buddhism, particularly in the contemplative tradition, love and affection are free and open love, love that does not ask for anything in return. Love is a mutual dance that takes place, and even if you step on each other’s toes during the dance, it is not regarded as problematic or an insult.
From The Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion, Volume Two of The Profound Treasury of Dharma, excerpted from pages 97 and 98.