By giving up the love of power, you attain the power of love.
What is love? Is it a feeling? An emotion? A state of mind? We are fascinated with love and we are drawn towards the idea of love. At the same time, our understanding of love is most often incomplete at best, and dysfunctional at worst. And because of our limited or false understanding, our relationships may feel stuck, we think our range of motion is limited, and we do not see the freedom that unconditional love is capable of giving us.
The notion that love causes suffering stems from the false understanding of love as a power game. Songs and movies in popular culture have led us to believe that the love of another completes us, that the other is an extension of who we are. This is true for romantic love, but it does not stop there. It is also true of parental love, love amongst family members, love of the environment, love of nonhuman animals etc. When we are thinking of love in the limited selfish definition, it is nothing but control and power and manipulation.
According to Buddhism, love is when we wish for the happiness of the beloved. It is this unconditional quality that expands our range of motion. This means that in a romantic relationship, we see our partner as an individual being with their own thoughts and beliefs and perceptions. In a parent-child relationship, the parent understands that the child has free will and will make their own choices. Amongst family members, it is the acceptance that one is not a replica of the other. In our treatment of animals, it is seeing them as whole beings with their own interests instead of thinking of what we can gain if we eat their flesh or steal their milk.
When you practice today, offer your intention to a beloved. In your mind, say this being's name and the words: "May you be happy. May you be free." Remember that for us to expand our range of motion, it requires repetition of new practices. It may be outside of our comfort zone in the beginning to move from a selfish reaction to a self-less intention. Allow this discomfort to arise. Within the confines of discomfort is where we grow. When the time comes that we perfect this practice of unconditional loving, we will be happy when our beloved is happy, and we will find freedom when our beloved is free.