How do I deal with healthy desires like wanting to get a relationship etc? Is it wrong intention to want that or is it good if it stems from non-ill will, renunciation etc.?

Likewise, it's bad if I thirst to get a girlfriend but how then do I deal with the accompanied depression? Loving kindness to oneself? Contemplating on the impermanence or the unattractiveness of the woman might not work in the heat of the moment when I'm depressed (Self compassion probably does and then realizing that other ppl face the same problem .. in essence: Im not alone with my problems)

  • "What, if I do (want) it, would lead to my long term benefit and happiness?", wanting/doing is nothing wrong but needed for all kind of gains, also lasting, Val. Feb 14, 2018 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


As my teacher explained (sorry, this looks silly, but I always have to start my answers with something like this, since I'm not quoting texts but none of this is my invention),

there is a difference between a desire (aka "should") and an intent (aka "will")

Desire is a point of inner discontent. Half of you is here, without girlfriend, and the other half is there in your imaginary future, with girlfriend. This split creates inner conflict that leads to the feeling of wrongness, mental/emotional suffering.

Intent is a case of inner integration and inner peace, based on unbending determination. All of you is here. You have thought about your goal, you have determined the best possible course of action (such as doing something; or not doing at all - i.e. waiting; or exposing oneself to spirit and chance; or being oneself authentically) and now you're living it with no back thoughts and no hesitations. Because you are like this, there is no inner conflict, there is no mental/emotional suffering.

  • Is the above a description of "craving", rather than of "desire"?
    – ChrisW
    Feb 17, 2018 at 18:01
  • Yes, of Tanha. I used OP's terminology on purpose. Perhaps you are right and I should have dichotomized his desire, instead of equating it with craving and adding intent. But to me "desire" sounds closer to craving than to decision/determination, so I equated them.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Feb 17, 2018 at 18:16

"wanting to get a relationship" comes from lust/craving. Hence it is unwholesome. But lay people are not expected to give up on relationships. They just have to keep to the 3rd precept where one avoids relationships that come under sexual misconduct.

However, if you are determined to advance to the next level of being celibate, you can practice Patikulamanasikara meditation or Satipatthana meditation. Once your lust is subdued/weakened, staying single becomes comfortable and preferable. There is no instant fix to mental issues. The mind needs to be cultivated with meditation over a period of time.

  • I practised Patikulamanasikara meditation, however, how long does it take once I see its results. The problem is, that I don't really see the ugliness in the human body. For me, all is quite natural, even urine etc.
    – Val
    Feb 14, 2018 at 21:43
  • Then try corpse meditation. Look at videos/pictures of rotting bodies. Feb 15, 2018 at 2:08

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