Most people on the planet feel conditionally loved. They feel people will value, appreciate and love them only if they are perceived as good and right and successful and are doing what others want and expect etc. This means that most people have this deep missing need of feeling unconditionally loved no matter what they do or don’t do, are or are not. At face value, this seems reasonable. After all, we all know the pain that conditionality can bring. We know the pain of feeling like we have to act a certain way in order to belong and to avoid conflict and to not be abandoned. The practice of unconditional love is one of the cornerstones of many spiritual philosophies. Just go ahead and look up how many quotes on unconditional love there are. But let’s look at the shadow of this philosophy.
When we say we want unconditional love, what we really mean is that we want an unconditional relationship. We want a relationship with no consequences. We want a relationship where no matter what we do or don’t do, the other person will continue to value us and appreciate us to the degree that they will feel good towards us and never ever get into conflict suffering with us or want to leave us. Sit with this for a minute. To expect unconditional love is to expect there to be no cause and effect. To want unconditional love is to want a relationship where there is no pressure on you, including no expectations. It really isn’t love we are asking for. We are simply using that word to represent the feeling of being valued and appreciated so as to be wanted and pulled in and held on to by someone.
To love is to take something as a part of yourself. To understand this more in depth, watch my video titled: What is Love?. When you do this, you expand so that yourself and the other person are like two parts within you. You don’t abandon the part that is yourself for the sake of the part of you that is the other person. It is simply that now, the best interests of both parts within you (yourself and them) are your concern. You have an intrinsic motive to want to meet both of their needs and resolve both of their pain. But this means that incompatibility now matters to you immensely. You cannot feel good meeting one’s needs at the expense of the other. And therefore, to truly love, you must recognize conditions that exist for both parts within the relationship instead of deny them.
For example, let’s imagine that you are a person who wants a simple, no pressure life that is centered around hobbies and hanging out with the people you love. Now let’s imagine that you develop romantic feelings for a person who is ambitious, someone who wants a big life that is centered around the accumulation of wealth, achievements and travel. If you get into a relationship with this person, this incompatibility will very soon cause you both pain. You will feel conditionally loved when the other person begins to complain about your lack of ambition and about how they carry the financial weight in the household and about the “losers” who you hang out with. You begin to feel that they don’t like who you are and that they will only love you if you become someone else.
They will feel conditionally loved when you are frustrated at how they can’t just be satisfied with what they have. They will feel conditionally loved when no matter how much you see that they are unhappy in the small, predictable life, you do nothing to change it and instead keep playing your same hobbies and spending time with those same people instead of trying to make a better, bigger life for both of you. What you want is for this person to value you and appreciate you to the degree that they will feel good towards you and never ever get into conflict suffering with you or leave you no matter if you never make any more money, never travel and make them carry the burden of any life style improvements alone for example. What they want is for you to value them and appreciate them to the degree that you will feel good towards them and never get into conflict suffering with them or want to leave them no matter if they think your friends and family are all losers, leave you behind for trips they go on around the world, and work so much that it feels like you’re living two separate lives. This is not possible.
You can include someone as a part of you, so as to see what is truly best for them and what they truly want. But if the truth of someone takes you further away from what you want, further away from your truth and causes you to suffer, you will not be able to value and appreciate it to the degree that it feels good and compels you to be on good terms and stay with them in the same relationship configuration. This means that loving someone does not always mean to always approve and always stay with them. To understand more about this, watch my videos titled: Incompatibility (A Harsh Reality in Relationships). And Why Approval is Not Love.
The person who you are the least likely to get the most unconditionality from is a primary partner. The reason is that they have the most “skin in the game”. They are the person whose life is the most directly affected by conditions involving you. In fact, to be unconditional, they would have to be totally disconnected so nothing you are or do affects them. This is why so many people who are in need of relationship rehabilitation do so well with therapists. A therapist relationship is more unconditional than almost any other relationship. No matter what you say in that room, it doesn’t cause them to get upset or de-value you or stop appreciating you or want to stop seeing you every week. But this is because they have no skin in the game. If you go home and shoot up heroine and burn your house down, it doesn’t directly impact their life. A friend is probably going to be more conditional because they are more directly affected by you than a therapist. A primary partner is going to be a relationship you really have to step up to the plate for. It will be a relationship of expectations and pressure. The more compatible you are, the easier this will be and the less it will seem like this.
Love is not the same as a relationship with no pressure and no expectations. I know that a relationship like this seems the most secure and safe to you. It feels like the relationship you can relax in and feel good about yourself in. But it is a myth. It is a myth you are chasing because of your deep wound of “you are wrong and bad and therefore must change”.
I want you to ask yourself, “When I say, I want to be loved just for me, what does “just me” mean? What is just you? What are you? Are you what you do? What you want? How you behave? How you feel? What you think? What you say? Your actions? What your desires are? What your needs are? Just an intangible essence or energy? Are you only one of these things, or all of them? Once you decide, can you see that to not get into any conflict suffering regarding those things or to want to stay tied to you forever, someone would have to be compatible to those things?
I am going to challenge you that what you want is not an unconditional relationship. You aren’t even incapable of giving that to someone. Will you continue to value and appreciate someone to the degree that you will feel good towards them and never ever want to physically leave them if they cheat on you? What if they abuse you? What about if they make a decision that means by staying with them physically, you will never align with your desires? Chances are, if you are a person who says you can unconditionally love, unlike everyone else, what you are really saying is that you are a person who thinks it is ok and even good to give your best interests up for and to suffer for a relationship… to stay with someone no matter how miserable you and/or they are together.
What you want is a relationship with someone whose conditions are compatible to you… Compatible to your wants, needs, values, character makeup etc. For example, if you desire for someone to stay with you even though you have a temper or to stay with you if you end up in an accident that leaves you disabled or if you are poor forever, what you want is someone who can say yes, I’m compatible to that, because those aren’t conditions for conflict suffering or for ending a relationship for them specifically. One person could genuinely not have the condition of physical ability with regards to fulfillment in their relationship, another person could. One person could genuinely not have the condition of ambition, another could. One person could not have the condition of being together physically, another could. One person could not have the condition of wealth, another could.
The reality is that everyone has different conditions. What you want is the person whose conditions, you feel ok with and who is ok with your conditions. That is far closer to actual love than the mythical ‘unconditional love’ that people have unconsciously gone after for so long. Love in and of itself is ultimately unconditional because to take someone as a part of yourself is not a contradiction to incompatibility. Love is ultimately unconditional because at the deepest level, all is one. We are all part of each other, whether we recognize it yet or not. There is no actual way to truly separate from one another, even though in the physical dimension, we can move our bodies to create the perception of distance. There is no way for you to separate from this universe. But all people must become damn conscious of and damn straight with themselves and other people about their relationship conditions. Keep in mind that we will have different and unique conditions for every different relationship configuration that we have; from therapist relationships to coaches to business partnerships to friends to siblings to parents to children to husbands to wives.
Because the quality of unconditionality has become a virtue in this society, people are shamed for their conditionality. They are led to believe some conditions are ok and some are not. For example, you are fine to love conditionally and can thus stay a good person if the condition upon which you leave someone is being beaten up or sexually abused by them. You are not fine and are in fact a terrible person if the condition upon which you leave someone is them being poor. The thing is, just because you shame someone for something, doesn’t mean it changes. People simply deny it even though it is there. They say, “I love you no matter what and till death do us part” and then leave you when their subconscious conditions are not met. The unfortunate thing is, to admit to your own conditions relative to relationships, you are going to have to risk feeling like you are and like people will see you as a bad person… ironically thus re-triggering your original wound of: “you are wrong and bad and therefore must change” as well as your pendulum swing desire of wanting unconditional love.