1-Sentence-Summary: 8 Rules of Love offers a 4-stage model of love, loosely based on Indian tradition, along with 8 rules to help us progress through it and become more emotionally mature people in the process.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
When Jay Shetty proposed to his future wife, he pulled out all the stops: An acappella group jumping out of nowhere, singing Bruno Mars’s “Marry You,” a romantic dinner by the river Thames, and a horse-drawn carriage ride around London.
By the time the engaged couple reached their parents’ house, however, the elders were shocked. “Are you alright?!” they asked their daughter. Her skin had a nasty rash all over — and that was the day Jay learned that his wife was allergic to horses.
What Jay also learned was that love needn’t be grand to be romantic. Perhaps he should have focused on good food (theirs ended up being cold) rather than the wow-factor. And maybe the carriage ride wasn’t necessary at all for his girlfriend to say yes.
In his book 8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go, Shetty compiles this and many other helpful ideas about love.
Here are 3 lessons based on the structure of the book, which I think you’ll find just as enlightening as the rules themselves:
- Love happens in 4 connected stages, and we can access each one as needed.
- To become a more loving and lovable person, we must follow the 8 rules of love.
- Love letters and meditation will help you internalize new attitudes towards love.
Whether you’re already married, still flying solo, or recently gave your now-fiancé an allergic reaction, let’s learn more about love!
Lesson 1: There are 4 different stages of love, but we never leave any one of them behind, and we can move seamlessly between them as needed.
Shetty spent three years of his life as a monk in an ashram. What is most commonly defined as an Indian monastery is actually also a place of education, he says. “Think about life as a series of classrooms or ashrams in which we learn various lessons,” Shetty suggests. When it comes to love, Shetty sees 4 connected ashrams:
- Solitude: This is where we prepare for love. We learn to love ourselves and be happy as we are.
- Compatibility: Here, we practice love. We extend love to others, and we deal with the challenges that brings.
- Healing: Next, we must protect love, be it the one we have for ourselves after a breakup, or the shared love with others.
- Connection: Finally, we can perfect love. We can feel connected to the entire world and experience love with anyone.
Ideally, these stages are cumulative. You might travel solo in college, focus on yourself, and build great self-awareness. Later, you’ll meet a special someone at work and get married. You might almost get divorced at some point but work through your issues. Eventually, you’ll really thrive together and extend your love to children, grandchildren, and your wider family.
However, you can move back to the solitude stage at any time. Feeling down after a breakup? Lack self-esteem? Focus on yourself again for a while, then rebuild from there.
Love is a never-ending journey of learning, and it’s never too late to learn an important lesson again.
Lesson 2: The 8 rules of love help us move through the 4 ashrams and become more mature lovers.
Set against the backdrop of the 4 ashrams of love, Jay offers 8 rules: 2 to prepare for love, 3 to practice love, 2 to protect love, and 1 to perfect love. Here they are:
- Let yourself be alone. Using another person to fill a void in ourselves never works. Learn to be happy on your own first.
- Don’t ignore your karma. You attract what your attitude seems to ask for. If you have a “fixer” mindset, every partner will look like a project.
- Define love before you think it, feel it, or say it. What does “I love you” mean to you? Is it a big deal? Do you say it to your postman? Think about your definition of love, and share it with others.
- Your partner is your guru. They should be someone you learn with, from, and through. Nobody is perfect, but if our long-term partner is also our long-term teacher, we’ll never stop growing.
- Purpose comes first. Sometimes, you’ll have to do something that’s important to you and you alone. Support your partner in their goals, and expect the same of them.
- Win or lose together. It’s normal and healthy to disagree, but if you approach each conflict as a team, you’ll fight the situation instead of each other.
- You don’t break in a breakup. Don’t run away at the first sign of difficulty, but always remember that you are still a whole, lovable, valuable person, all on your own.
- Love again and again. Broaden your view of love. Experience it with everyone. The ancient Greeks had 6 different words for love. There’s more than one type, and there’s always a kind of love you can practice on any given day.
Practice these rules, use them to “level up,” and remember you can always revisit a rule from an earlier stage. Prepare, practice, protect, and one day perfect your love!
Lesson 3: Use love letters and meditation to cement your new perspectives on love.
For each stage, Shetty offers a prompt for a love letter and a meditation. I love both of those ideas (pun intended).
A love letter to yourself can remind you of all your good sides, even the ones you’re usually too busy to see. A love letter to your partner will make you appreciate them even more. After a breakup or difficult time, writing can help you process grief and trauma. And when you write a love letter to the world, you’ll walk through life with open eyes and a welcoming heart.
As for meditation, it is the single most powerful habit I’ve built in the last 10 years, and I would recommend it to anyone on a daily basis, if only for 10-15 minutes. Jay suggests adjusting your meditation based on the 4 ashrams. A solitude meditation should focus on your body and inner presence. A compatibility meditation can be visualizing someone you love and what you love about them. And so on.
Writing structures, clarifies, and cements our thinking. Meditating fills us with calm, presence, and appreciation. Both are valuable tools in our eternal quest for love. Use them, and the most powerful emotion in life will always be on your side.
8 Rules of Love Review
8 Rules of Love is a solid entry-level read about romantic relationships. It reminds me of The 5 Love Languages. Shetty recommends a mix of inner work, practical tips, and focusing on others. Also a great refresher for long-time singles and couples.
Who would I recommend our 8 Rules of Love summary to?
The 21-year-old student who’s never been single for long, the 55-year-old diligent wife who feels her marriage is stuck in a rut, and anyone who needs a reminder that it’s okay to be your own biggest fan.