Everything The Hollywood Bestselling Self-help Author Jay Shetty Knows About Love

His motivational videos are loved by Will Smith and Oprah. He got Bennifer down the aisle. Now, former monk Jay Shetty is back with a book, 8 Rules of Love

Jay Shetty

by Jay Shetty |
Updated on

Jay Shetty, 35, is the man Hollywood's lovelorn A-listers have on speed dial. Ten years ago, the boy from Wood Green, north London, was a Hindu monk. Now, he's a tinseltown entrepreneur, social media influencer, self-help guru, author, multimillionaire, and motivational speaker with 28 million Facebook followers and a rocksteady bromance with Will Smith. His gift? 'Making wisdom go viral'. And it pays. He lives with his wife, Radhi, also a British social media influencer, in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills previously owned by the oil scion Balthazar Getty and, naturally, counts Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres among his legion of fans. When Bennifer needed an officiant for their big, glitzy wedding last month, of course they turned to Jay. He has a new book about romance, 8 Rules of Love, out in February. Here, in an exclusive essay, he tells Grazia everything he knows about love...

American novelist Jamie McGuire said love is the most overused word in the English dictionary. I believe it is also the most under defined. We get most of our messages about love from media and movies, and from our parents, and lots of them are either inaccurate or unhealthy, or at best, limited. Tim Lomas, a psychologist at Harvard, analysed 50 different languages and discovered 14 types of love! Most of us think of maybe two of three kinds of love – romantic love, familial love, and maybe the way you love your dog, or really good chocolate. In all of it, we’re missing a lot of what love is really about.

I wrote this book, 8 Rules of Love, because I wanted to share the eight rules I have learned through different cultures, ancient wisdom and modern science that will help at any stage of their pursuit of love.If I were to offer one piece of advice, I’d say, expect your relationship to change. And, hope for it to change. And even work to make sure it changes! We tend to have this idea that our wedding day is a finish line – we’ve found the one! The reality is that it’s a starting line. And the thing is, with a regular run, you’d know the course. But with marriage, and any relationship, you have no idea what you’ll encounter. So, there’s a lot of learning and growth that need to take place so you can navigate it together, and get better at it as you go. And so instead of getting married and having a hope or expectation that you and your partner and your relationship will always stay the same, expect to be challenged. Expect to fail. And try to embrace those experiences. If you always orient yourselves towards growth, even your stumbles will become successes.

Try not to have a limited view of love. Hey, I was a monk, and when I became one, I thought I’d be one for the rest of my life. I definitely do not believe that you have to have a romantic partner to experience love. In fact, one of the greatest forms of love, and the most foundational, is love for ourself. Psychologist Karin Arndt says, ‘Being alone well is an art form.’ Sadly, as we grow up we’re taught that only other people can provide the love we’re looking for, and that’s one of the biggest reasons so many of us feel lonely or jaded about love. When people don’t live up to our expectations, we feel let down. Instead, we can learn the art of being alone, and that includes learning how to provide that love to ourselves.

When it comes to dating apps, they can be problematic. One study showed that more than half of online daters lied in their profiles. Also, having so many options at our fingertips can lead to a phenomenon researchers call “relationshopping,” where we can be more critical of potential partners or put less into relationships because of this perception that we can just swipe to find someone else. Several studies show that we make worse decisions when we have more choice. That said, like pretty much all technology, I think it’s more about the user than the tech. There are absolutely ways to use dating apps in ways that are healthy. It requires a clear intention, openness and high tolerance for rejection and failure.

There are five things we need to know about ourselves, and our partner. Our fight style, learning style, how we like to receive love, our values, and our purpose. Learning and understanding each of these things in us and the other person is critical to creating and fostering healthy relationships. 8 Rules of Love guides you to understand each of these and more.

One of the biggest mistakes we make with relationships is that we think that love means putting the other person first. There’s also a great quote by David Viscott which is, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’ When you’re focused on someone else, it’s really to lose track of yourself and your own gifts and purpose, and that’s where a lot of sadness, resentment, and so on come in. Knowing your own values and your own purpose are really important, so you can protect and nurture them. And when you have that healthy relationship with yourself, it will contribute to the health of all of your other relationships, because you’ll feel fulfilled, and you’ll be giving from a place of personal abundance.

Being bullied when I was young and later having more friends made me realise the difference between attention and love. We confuse validation with love. We chase the wrong thing because it feels more like love but it isn’t. Being bullied and experiencing racism made me more compassionate and understanding towards others who go through similar things but also the bullies. I realised that there was healing needed on both sides, just like a healthy relationship. Love is where people choose to heal individually and be patient as their partner heals simultaneously.

I grew up thinking love was supposed to look like a Bollywood movie, maybe without the elaborate dance sequences. That you’re looking for love at first sight, and when you find the right person, it will be happily ever after. It took becoming a monk to get me off that track of thinking. What I learned is that relationships are one of the greatest schools we can ever attend – they are first and foremost an opportunity to grow and develop. My wife is one of my greatest teachers. Of course, there’s all the fun stuff, too - the parties and yes, sometimes the dancing - but I’ve learned that what’s most enriching about love is the learning to love more deeply, powerfully and truly.

We so often talk about love like it’s so hard to find, but in reality, it’s truly everywhere. Romance is only one type of love; the reality is that opportunities to experience it are endless. And one of the easiest ways to experience love is to share it. Hold a door for someone. Offer a smile to a stranger. Bring a sick person soup. Walk dogs at the shelter. Love is always right here, waiting for you.

8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go (Harper Collins) is out on 23 Jan 2023. Preorder it here

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