Kick your love quotient up a notch.
When my partner travels for business, I want to remind him how much I love him even when we’re apart, so I always write a little love note and tuck it into his suitcase for him to discover as he unpacks.
I do my best to write from the heart (I am a writer for goodness sakes!), but sometimes I find myself needing a little help finding exactly the right words to express the myriad of emotions I feel about him and our life together: love, lust, gratitude, grace, vulnerability, friendship, and so on.
In such moments, I turn to the best experts on love I can think of — poets, philosophers, authors, therapists, and a variety of wise pop culture idols — and sift through the most inspirational true love quotes I can find.
Once, when my partner went on a two-week trip overseas, I copied dozens of inspiring love quotes onto index cards and tucked them in various places between his underwear, dress shirts, and slacks. Thousands of miles away from home, each time he found one, it connected us in that magical way lovers sometimes need to help them manage the pain of separation.
I’m guessing that you are a lot like me: you sometimes want to remind the one you love, as well as yourself, that true love is worth the struggle and delight, the pain and the pleasure.
Because, no matter the political climate, time period, or place, a favorite topic for rumination is love, so much so that many believe it’s the most meaningful aspect of life.
When I went in search for some of my favorite quotes about love and life recently, I discovered that similar threads of thought written about by sources ranging from ancient Greek philosophers to modern day icons aligned with each other.
From Plato to Dolly Parton, Mr. Rogers to Rumi, .Julia Child to John O’Donohue — lovers of love agree: love is fabulous, and it’s worth the struggle.
If you desire to experience the full gamut of the human experience, allowing yourself to love demands that you allow yourself to be vulnerable. In order to love fully, you must lean into grace and accept others for who they are. And, perhaps most importantly, in order to love, the biggest requirement is that you must love yourself as well.
To find your own motivation, here are the 41 best, most inspirational true love quotes about what’s most meaningful in life from famous, and sometimes infamous, men and women through the ages.
1. Love is risky.
“Better to put your heart on the line, risk everything, and walk away with nothing than play it safe. Love is a lot of things, but ‘safe’ isn’t one of them.” ― Mandy Hale
2. You can find love in the darkness.
“We don’t fall in love with people because they’re good people. We fall in love with people whose darkness we recognize. You can fall in love with a person for all of the right reasons, but that kind of love can still fall apart. But when you fall in love with a person because your monsters have found a home in them ― that’s the kind of love that owns your skin and bones. Love, I am convinced, is found in the darkness. It is the candle in the night.” ― C. Joybell C.
3. Love is like cooking.
“I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a Valentine as you can give.” ― Julia Child
4. Love is freedom to be yourself.
“To me, obligation is not love. Letting someone be open, honest and free — that’s love. It’s got to come natural and it’s got to be real.” — Dolly Parton
5. You can’t change the person you love.
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ― Thomas Merton
6. You create your own love.
“Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.” ― Voltaire
7. Love is power.
“When we know love matters more than anything, and we know that nothing else really matters, we move into the state of surrender. Surrender does not diminish our power, it enhances it.” ― Sara Paddison
8. Don’t run away from it.
“You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation… and that is called loving. Well then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is only your aversion to it that hurts, nothing else.” ― Hermann Hesse
9. Allow yourself to feel it.
“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” ― Mary Oliver
10. Be brave.
“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” ― Maya Angelou
11. Vulnerability is key.
“Any love makes us vulnerable. Whatever we love will give the gift of pain somewhere along the road. But who would live sealed in spiritual cellophane just to keep from ever being hurt? There are a few people like that. I’m sorry for them. I think they are as good as dead.” ― Gladys Bagg Taber
12. Love unconditionally.
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” ― Fred Rogers
13. Loving the right person feeds your soul.
“A lover cannot be chosen a la smorgasbord. A lover has to be chosen from soul-craving. To choose just because something mouthwatering stands before you will never satisfy the hunger of the soul-self. And that is what the intuition is for; it is the direct messenger of the soul.” ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés
14. Be kind.
“Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life … all of our life.” ― Henri Nouwen
15. Love is the way to yourself.
“Perhaps love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupery
16. Carry love with you.
“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need — a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.” ― Jerome K. Jerome
17. True love has intimacy.
“When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning.” ― John O’Donohue
18. Someone out there is your perfect match.
“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” ― Dr. Seuss
19. Love ages like wine.
“Relish love in your old age! Aged love is like aged wine; it becomes more satisfying, more refreshing, more valuable, more appreciated and more intoxicating!” ― Leo Buscaglia
20. When you love someone, you miss them.
“Once you have drunk from the water of unconditional love, no other well can satisfy your thirst. The pangs of separation may become so intense that seeking the affection of the Beloved becomes an obsession.” ― Ram Dass
21. Without love, life is empty.
“Loving can cost a lot but not loving always costs more, and those who fear to love often find that want of love is an emptiness that robs the joy from life.” ― Merle Shain
22. Love is worth it.
“Love can be hard. Love requires you to be kind when you are angry, patient when you feel anxious, compassionate when you judge others, caring when you feel apathetic, trust when you’ve been wronged, let go when you want to hold on, know that the other person is you, take risks when you’re scared, to always see the lesson and never look back once you’ve decided.” ― Jackson Kiddard
23. Trust in love.
“We may tell ourselves that love is not really available. But the deeper truth is that we don’t entirely trust it, and therefore have a hard time fully opening to it or letting it all the way into us. This disconnects us from our own heart, exacerbating our sense of love’s scarcity.” ― John Welwood
24. We all desire to have love.
“We are desire. It is the essence of the human Soul, the secret of our existence. Absolutely nothing of human greatness is ever accomplished without it. Not a symphony has been written, a mountain climbed, an injustice fought, or a love sustained apart from desire. Desire fuels our search for the life we prize.” ― John Elderidge
25. Love someone you can trust with yourself.
“Much healing can occur through the sexual act with a person you love and trust if the two of you can stay with each other during your most vulnerable moments. You enter into a sacred space, this unknown territory, from which you’ll emerge into new and unexpected states of being.” ― Alexandra Katehakis
26. Loving yourself is crucial.
“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.” ― William Shakespeare, Henry V
27. Love is not constricting.
“Love is the free exercise of choice. Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other.” ― M. Scott Peck
28. Money is not a substitute for love.
“You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship. Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness.” ― Mitch Albom
29. Love does not manipulate.
“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.” ― Dr. Joyce Brothers
30. Love is a lot of work.
“For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke
31. Following love is a choice.
“The choice to follow love through to its completion is the choice to seek completion within ourselves. The point at which we shut down on others is the point at which we shut down on life.” ― Marianne Williamson
32. Self-love is not selfish.
“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” ― Margo Anand
33. Love must be nurtured.
“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them—we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” ― Brené Brown
34. Love without regrets.
“When your life is nearly over, you will regret it if you look back and recall too many nights when you made excuses instead of making love.” ― Barbara Cooper
35. Love makes life worth living.
“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” ― Henry Drummond
36. Love is a duet.
“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” ― Plato
37. Life is too short.
“Life is short, Break the Rules. Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably And never regret anything. That makes you smile.” ― Mark Twain
38. Love takes practice.
“You don’t need to justify your love, you don’t need to explain your love, you just need to practice your love. Practice creates the master.” ― Miguel Ruiz
39. You are worthy of love, despite your imperfections.
“To the people who love you, you are beautiful already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful, too.” ― Victoria Moran
40. Love is in your heart.
“The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” ― Rumi
41. You risk happiness when you don’t risk for love.
“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” ― Erica Jong