Lately I’ve been doing some thinking about love.
More specifically, unconditional love.
I used to think that in order to really love someone fully, at the highest level, my love had to be unconditional. I’m not completely sure why I thought this way, but I suppose in my head, I knew that every time someone lashes out or becomes disrespectful, it comes from a place of fear; fear of abandonment, fear of losing, fear of the unknown, etc. I derived that to soothe these fears, it was best to let my partner know that there was nothing he could ever say or do to make me stop loving him. By letting him know this, he’d be calmed and reassured that I’d never leave him. This was not a one time occurence. I’ve done it in several relationships.
Because, let’s face it: unconditional love feels really good. I don’t care who you are, we all become difficult to love at times, and it feels good to know that no matter how thorny or prickly or mean we can be, the one we love will never stop loving us.
But…..loving a romantic partner (or even a friend) unconditionally opens the door for all sorts of dysfunctional behavior. When someone who is not in a healthy place knows they can get away with anything and everything, they’ll inevitably push the limits. If you don’t set boundaries, it’s very easy to turn from a person’s equal, to their doormat.
Unconditional love only works when it’s coming from a parent to their child – and even then at some point it becomes unhealthy. Loving someone beyond all reason seems tempting, but it leaves you paralyzed; immobile. It opens us up to being taken advantage of and disrespected. I’ve known so many loving people, both men and women, who continually put themselves in this position. As I said, I’ve done it repeatedly.
While talking about life and love to a wonderful new mentor last week, I said aloud: “My love is entirely conditional.”It was a moment of clarity and realization and it felt amazing to verbalize it.
MY LOVE IS ENTIRELY CONDITIONAL.
It’s empowering to set boundaries and let someone know that, while you love them wholeheartedly, it is entirely possible for that love to go away if you aren’t being honored and respected the way you should be. So many times we love beyond reason.
When I really ponder why I had this mentality for so long, it becomes less about loving the one I’m with unconditionally, and more about loving myself unconditionally. In telling someone there was nothing they could ever do to make me leave them, I was actually hoping that I’d never be left.
This isn’t healthy.
Sometimes the people we fall in love with hurt us. They do really rotten, hurtful, damaging things. At this point, we are no longer obligated to stay in a relationship with them – even if it’s someone you’re married to.
Your love is conditional.
So, set the conditions of your love – maybe not out loud, but have an awareness deep down inside what those conditions are. Know what you’ll stand for and what you won’t, and maybe even realize that someone else’s love for you is entirely conditional as well. You cannot always push someone’s limits and take advantage of them and expect them to never stop loving you.
And always, above all, love yourself unconditionally because you will never, ever, ever leave you.