Most of us in the world today have felt the pain of experiencing some kind of conditional love. This begins with the process of socialization in childhood. We learn very early that if we are certain things or if we do certain things, we will either be approved of or rejected. We learn that the things we want so dearly, things like acceptance, inclusion, being wanted, being valued, appreciation, having our needs met and being loved are conditional.
If we were traumatized by this conditionality in some way, it gives rise to a strong desire for unconditionality. We want to be accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated, have our needs met and be loved no matter what we do or don’t do. No matter who we are or aren’t. No matter what happens or doesn’t happen. And no matter how we stay the same or change.
To heal is to experience the opposite. This means that people who have suffered as a result of certain aspects of themselves not being accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated or loved, heal by experiencing those things being accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated and loved. But people with this kind of trauma sometimes swing the pendulum from conditionality all the way to unconditionality. And with any pendulum swing, there is dysfunction at both ends of the spectrum. If we begin to demand unconditionality, we open the door wide for this dysfunction.
For example, we may try to create relationships where our expectation is that there is no pressure on us, including no expectations imposed on us by the other person. Or we may get into relationships with people who are incompatible to us, and try to get the other person who (due to their incompatibility) is guaranteed to not want something about us, to change their mind and want it instead. Or we may try to create relationships where we expect the other person to continue to appreciate us and feel good towards us, no matter what we do or don’t do. Or we may try to create relationships where we expect the other person to give up their best interests for us. Or we may even fall into the pattern of expecting other people to suffer so that we can feel loved. The expectation of unconditionality can lead you down a very, very dark road in relationships. To understand this in a more in-depth way, watch my videos titled: The Truth and The Myth of Unconditional Love and The ‘Suffer So I Can Feel Loved’ Relationship Dynamic.
We can sum up the desire to be accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated, have our needs met and be loved no matter what we do or don’t do, by calling this: the desire to be loved no matter what. What we mean when we say “I want to be loved no matter what” is: “I want to be wanted no matter what”. But the big question here is: What is the ‘me’ that I need people to want? Or what about me do I need someone to want? And this is the question we need to ask ourselves if we hope to heal from the trauma of conditionality. The answer to this question will reveal to you what part of you was rejected, not accepted, dis-included, pushed away, unwanted, not valued, disapproved of, unloved and its needs not met. From there, you can consciously go about integrating and bringing about healing for that aspect of you.
So that you can understand how this goes, I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Beau grew up in a very large family that lived on a working farm. The children in the house were quite literally conceived so that they could help out on the farm. Beau always felt like it wasn’t what he was that had any value, it was what he did. Now, in his adult life, he often feels like women are only interested in him because of what he does for them. And that if he stopped doing those things, they would leave. This often causes Beau to bait and switch women. He enters a relationship doing everything for them. He fixes anything in their house that needs fixing. He takes care of anything they need done. He spends the initial part of the relationship being completely active and in service to her needs, even before she has to ask. But then, once the relationship starts to feel secure, Beau starts to feel insecure. He suddenly starts to worry that the only reason she loves him is because of what he does for her. The pain of his childhood then comes up. And he begins to test the woman. He stops doing something that he usually does for her. When she reacts negatively to him doing that, his fears are confirmed that she only loves him for what he does for her. And then, he goes into full on protest mode. He stops being active. He stops doing things for the woman. Inevitably, after months of conflict, they leave him feeling duped and he feels abandoned and unloved and like all women are just users. In reality, women decide to be in a relationship with Beau specifically because he is such an active man. He immediately contains a woman and responds to her needs. It’s not just what he does, it is who they think he is. This is the man they signed up for. But when Beau suddenly stops doing this, they feel duped. The man he is now being is not the man they signed up for.
When Beau is asked the question: What is it about you that you need other people to want? His answer is: “Me the way I am.” But who is Beau the way Beau is? Is Beau what he does? It he his talents? Is he his weaknesses? Is he what he wants? Is he how he behaves? Is he how he feels? I he what he thinks? Is he what he says? Is he his actions? Is he his needs? Is he only one of these things, or all of them? What is it about who he is that he needs other people to want? When Beau thinks hard about this, he realizes that what he really wants is for a woman to love his company. When he thinks about giving a woman company, he realizes that the image he has in mind is them doing a lot of joint leisure activities together and talking. He wants to be valued for his company doing leisure activities together and for his insights. This is the real pain. His parents did not value his company. They did not do any leisure activities together and they didn’t care about his insights at all.
Seeing this, Beau was able to see that the way he enters into relationships is false advertising. He goes into relationships setting up a relationship dynamic that he doesn’t want. As a result, he realizes that in order to find compatible women, the ones who will want what he needs them to want, he has to be different from the get go. Now, Beau behaves in a way that indicates to women that he loves leisure time and quality time. He engages in deep conversation with a woman rather than fixing her kitchen sink. He invites women to leisure activities, like watching a movie, rather than offering to help her in some way. Beau has now been in a three-year relationship with a woman who loves his company. They share many common interests and enjoy a lot of leisure time. Both of them value having quality time together the most in their relationship. And because of it, Beau feels more loved than he ever has before.
Charlotte grew up in a culture that expects women to “keep sweet”. Whenever Charlotte was anything but sweet, she was immediately reprimanded. Charlotte had to suppress her negative emotions in a big way, especially anger. But she could not make it go away. As a result, charlotte has spent the better part of her life feeling like something is seriously bad about her and wrong with her because she can’t just feel good and be positive no matter the circumstances; like the other women she knows seem able to do. She keeps ending up in relationships with people who have a problem with her expressing any negativity.
When Charlotte is asked the question: What is the ‘you’ that you need other people to want? Or what is it about you that you need other people to want? Charlotte realizes it is the real truth of how she feels in any given moment that she needs other people to want. Charlotte decides that she is still in resistance to her own emotional truth. So, she decides to do parts work with the part of her that knows and can express the truth of how she feels. And the part of her that is against her knowing and expressing the truth of how she feels. As a result of that parts work, she was able to get both parts on board with always letting her conscious mind know how she feels and expressing the truth of how she feels in way that is still considerate of the other person’s feelings. In order to find people who would want the truth of how she feels, Charlotte signed up for an acting class that promised to help aspiring actors to tap into their own emotional depth. In that class, she made friends with Jane. Charlotte and Jane are now roommates. Charlotte feels safe with Jane because Jane always tells Charlotte exactly how she feels. There is never any guess work. And Jane encourages Charlotte to get mad and to cry, and to tell the unsavory truth. As a result, Charlotte’s relationship with her own personal truth is healing. She is becoming a much more authentic person. And she feels more lovable.
It is important to beware that when we first get into relationships, we often do so by hiding the parts of ourselves that got us rejected before. But this means we are selling someone on something that isn’t the full truth of us. It is guaranteed that sooner or later, we will either bring out or switch into the part of us that we were hiding. And the other person will feel duped by us.
The ‘what’ in the no matter what relationships we are seeking, is actually a very specific what. It is a specific thing, or multiple specific things that we need someone to want and value. By figuring out what that specific thing is, we can improve our own relationship with that thing and then we can go about finding conscious and direct ways for that thing to be accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated and loved.
When we do this, we need to be conscious of going to the right people and places. Places where this need can actually get met. For example, if Charlotte’s need was for her emotional truth to be wanted, she would have to go to places and seek out and develop relationships with people who valued emotional truth. If she walked into her parent’s southern county club wanting to be loved for her emotional truth, it wouldn’t go well. She would be re-traumatized. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: The Value Realization (A Realization That Can Completely Change your Self Worth).
We shouldn’t be seeking to be loved or wanted no matter what… not in the way we mean it when we say it. We should be seeking compatible relationships. To understand more about this in-depth you can watch my video titled: Incompatibility, a Harsh Reality in Relationships. And part of this compatibility is about becoming aware of specifically what it is about us that we want to have be wanted. And finding people who do want that. People who can accept, include, value, appreciate and love that.