Unconditional love vs. conditional love
What is the difference between conditional love and unconditional love?
Unconditional love is, as the term says, love without restriction. It is the kind of love that accepts everything and is unchangeable.
Some would argue that it is superfluous to call it unconditional love because all love should be unconditional, otherwise it is not love.
On the other hand, conditional love is something opposite in itself, because it suggests both – love that should accept everyone as they are and conditions – things that must be fulfilled in order to be accepted.
The explanation sounds pretty clear, so what is the problem?
The problem is the complexity of the human being. The secret of their feelings – especially love. The inexplicable experience of its depth, which cannot be reduced to a few words.
So many experiences and feelings are swept under the name of love that we often wonder where the problem lies: What is love?
Some say that love is passion and that it should be wild and full of chemistry, making us shiver and ready to die for the person we love. Others say that it is platonic, that it is not physical contact, and that it lives only in the mind.
Some say we can experience love through self-acceptance alone and feel complete, while others insist that true love is only possible in tandem or through others.
I would simply say that love is an intense feeling of deep affection that can grow in many directions.
Who is right and who is wrong? Let us examine a little more before we settle for an answer.
Conditional love: Are we egomaniacs or victims?
“Pride must die in you, or nothing from heaven can live in you.” – Andrew Murray
We come into this life without knowing ourselves, others and everything that surrounds us. The first people we meet are our parents and family members.
Our parents already have their unique personalities, i.e. they have certain expectations, dreams, hopes and ideas about reality.
Immediately after our birth we are shaped by their personal beliefs. In other words, we are somehow destined to fit into something that we do not yet know anything about.
Yet the love between a mother and a newborn is the purest and strongest love there is, because it demands nothing from the baby. Yet this love still has limits and changes as the baby grows up.
I don’t want to sound gloomy, but think of situations where people have rejected babies born with some kind of physical or mental defect.
They didn’t want them because they didn’t fit into their category of normal, or because they weren’t willing to invest the time and care that the baby needs.
On the other hand, there are people who would consider the same child a blessing and a disguised teacher.
Before you start blaming your parents for conditionally loving you, you should understand that it is not their fault, because they have been through the same thing, having to meet the expectations of their parents and other people, and so on.
I do not mean to say that all parents impose strict rules on their children, but there are certainly rules that we must follow in order to receive praise and recognition, which is expressed in love.
And – you guessed it – that is a condition. And so we learn from an early age that adapting a role can give us the recognition and love we need, and we expect other people to do the same.
This continues in our teenage years when we desperately want to be cool and be accepted by our peers. We also start to give rules to others and want our needs to be met in an appropriate way.
In the teenage years, this behavior is often very dramatic and we are noticeably more demanding.
Later in adulthood we slowly begin to learn to enjoy things in life more authentically.
For some (or should I say many?) people, however, these principles remain the same; they simply become more aware of what is appropriate to do and say.
In other words, many people either remain stuck in the belief that conditional love is the only way, or they don’t even know that they love conditionally.
Conditional love comes from the place of the ego. What I mean by this is that it comes from the desire to shape things according to ourselves, because we only see things as they are useful to us.
People who love conditionally blame others for their expectations so that they can win their affection.
That sounds wrong, doesn’t it? Yes, but we all do it sometimes.
We want others to act in a certain way, and when they don’t, we get angry. In such moments, the line between love and hate seems extremely thin.
That is exactly what conditional love is. It is the small space where love ends and hate begins, and it goes back and forth depending on our mood and demands.
It does not grow out of respect for others, but out of our own demands.
I am right, you are wrong. I can do this, you can’t. You shouldn’t do it if you want to. You have to do this to have that.
It is full of debit and credit, and it creates feelings of constant guilt and disappointment, which are not exactly a good basis for a healthy relationship.
If this kind of behavior is overemphasized, it even indicates that a person is a narcissist.
Trying to control others is wrong. Restricting freedom is an attack on the value of a person as a human being. We are not and never will be the authority in a person’s life. If we try, it is clear that we are into power games and not love.
This applies to all the little (and not so little) remarks we hear all our lives. So what are the clues for conditional love in examples from daily life?
“I know my parents love me, but they started treating me better since I got the job they approved of.
“My parents/parents would yell at me if I accidentally broke, say, a plate.
“I know my parents love me, but they punish me if I get a bad grade.”
“If I wanted to marry someone who wasn’t of my race or religion, my parents would criticize me or even disown me.
“If you gained too much weight, I would not be attracted to you.”
“If you continue to go out with your friends without me, I will leave you.”
These kinds of ultimatums have a terrible effect on a person’s mental health and well-being.
They become even more obvious and severe in a romantic relationship, especially after the initial spell of falling in love and the effect of the rose-colored glasses has worn off.
Romantic love is a catalyst, because unlike the family type of love, in this case we choose someone based on our preferences and expectations.
And not only that, but at the beginning of the relationship both parties usually try to behave much more perfectly and compliantly, which is not sustainable in the long run.
This is exactly the reason why many unsolved problems arise between lovers. In the beginning of the relationship we try to be everything the other one wants – and the other one loves that – but as soon as we stop doing so, the problems start.
A committed relationship requires a lot of work and honesty.
In order to fully accept each other, two people must consider each other as best friends and take care of each other’s needs without taking advantage of each other.
A loving relationship is filled with understanding and constant self-examination.
Instead of setting ultimatums, lovers should encourage each other to work on their personal growth and strengthen the other’s sense of authenticity and self-esteem.
Unconditional love: Divine love or acceptance of co-dependence?
“To love and be loved unconditionally is to take a leap of faith. – Andrea Miller
Unconditional love is the highest goal in life. It is the closest thing we can fathom when it comes to understanding the meaning behind our life and existence.
To love unconditionally means to accept others fully and completely, and this includes mistakes, differences of opinion, different life choices and opinions.
Unconditional love is a conscious decision to always show kindness, understanding and respect for the people we love.
There is even a concept in psychology called Unconditional Positive Respect, which promotes an attitude of complete acceptance and love and is used in therapy.
It is based on acceptance and on always seeing others as naturally human and naturally lovable despite their superficial behavior.
Love does not have to be earned or proven, because we love people for who they are, not for what they do or say.
It adapts to the needs of others, it can be unpleasant because it always challenges you, and it is shown to people who do not expect it.
Letting go of our expectations, letting the other person be who he is and doing the best he can do in the given moment – these are acts of unconditional love.
Every person has a different learning curve, and the degree of maturity is not the same for every person. There is no point in letting someone see things the way you see them.
So how do we practice this kind of love in everyday life?
First of all we have to make sure that we practice self-love. Without self-love and the knowledge of our own self-esteem we cannot get far.
In order to know our self-worth, we need to see ourselves from an objective but compassionate point of view. In other words, we must love ourselves unconditionally in order to be able to love others in the same way.
But let us not delude ourselves if we think self-acceptance is easy to practice. It is the most difficult thing of all.
Escaping from our own learned behaviors and toxic and self-deprecating mental patterns must be the most exhausting thing there is, but it is possible.
Secondly, we need to understand harmful, outdated cultural norms and “right” behaviours and yet let go and see things as they are behind the guilt and shame caused by society.
For example, a child who has a tantrum in a public place should not be embarrassed, because that is normal and can happen to any child.
Physical defects do not make anyone less valuable. Not being religious does not make a person less good. I could go further.
Third, we should not feel under constant pressure to be perfect, but we should always admit our faults and sincerely apologize for them.
To achieve perfect love is a process of learning, but in the end it is always worth it.
Apart from that, we should always strive to recognize the love language of the other person.
It is not enough just to say or observe things, we must act and help our loved ones in a way that is personally beneficial to them.
Some people prefer words of affirmation to gifts, while others value the precious time, service, or physical touch.
But what if we meet a co-dependent person who takes advantage of our love? Doesn’t all this mean that less conscientious people can take advantage of us?
No, for the simple reason I mentioned earlier – if we love others unconditionally, it is only because we love ourselves first.
When we truly love ourselves, we are authentic and do not overstep our personal boundaries, because we know how to respect ourselves and recognize the true intentions of other people.
We cannot expect a relationship to be something mystical, perfect and alien. No matter how hard we try, we are still human, and human relationships are based on benefit. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The bottom line is, we are there for other people because we are social beings. Our importance is confirmed by the happiness we feel and give to others.
It is important that we recognize and give what we can gracefully give without making it a condition.
Unconditional love cannot be an excuse for unhealthy behavior and toxicity.
A person will never intentionally exhaust himself in situations that show no signs of progress. The thing is – we can always try to help and understand, but we cannot choose to help another person.
Because the idea of unconditional love includes the concept of free will, which has been spoken of since the beginning of time.
The idea of free will is divine and that is why this kind of love is divine.
Examples of unconditional love in everyday life that we can all strive for
Allow vulnerability and understanding when dealing with sensitive issues, rather than exploiting and using them against the other person.
Have deep empathy – the ability to understand or feel what another person is experiencing.
After a fight, the goal is to find a solution and understand each other, not to hurt each other.
Not to be afraid of being embarrassed before admitting feelings for something.
The ability to forgive another person at any time.
Not having to prove yourself all the time, knowing that your loved ones understand where you come from, and even if they don’t understand, they try.
The selflessness of your partner inspires your own, and vice versa. You feel safe and cared for and want to give back the same.
There is no withholding of affection; you show and receive affection in a natural flow.
You do things without expecting anything in return.
Not being afraid to be yourself and let others do the same.
Inspire people to be the best versions of themselves and realize their full potential.
Sincerely celebrating other people’s successes and feeling happy to be part of their life path.
To let others go through the pain they have to experience, but to be there for them.
To always tell the truth – no matter how unpleasant it is.
To accept people, even if they are not their best self.
To feel satisfaction simply by loving.
To be satisfied with what you have and be grateful for loved ones in your life.
To feel free to pursue the things you are interested in and passionate about and to let others do the same.
Seeking healthy solutions and not holding grudges.
Not to be passive-aggressive, but to tackle problems immediately.
To have respect for another person, even if you disagree with them; to have a discussion instead of fighting.
A healthy relationship is a priority.
Make extra efforts when someone is going through a difficult time.
Do not take bad moods and occasional rejection personally because you know they have nothing to do with you.
To be proud of other people for their achievements – large and small.
To let other people enjoy the things they love, even if we are not one of them.
To feel gratitude for life, for yourself and for the people around you.
Is unconditional love really possible?
“‘Do’ is a word of infinite deeds.” – Norina Luciano
It is understandable that highly idealistic ideas are considered impossible by some people. Everyone can understand the nobility of the idea, but in real life it makes them suspicious.
And why? Because people are imperfect in the first place, and everyone knows that. There are not many examples of such love in the life of the average person.
We all know how difficult it is to accept the things we don’t understand and to be always kind.
Many of us try, but end up disappointed when the idea does not match reality. However, it is possible, and striving for this kind of love will change our lives in many ways.
The insistence on mutual love, on open and honest communication and on support will lead to a love that is powerful and immune to everything that happens outside of love.
Maybe we will never reach perfect love – or at least something we consider perfect love – but the goal is to get rid of senseless limitations and to enjoy life and people as they really are: imperfect.
Unconditional love is the war against perfection. Nothing in nature is perfect, and yet it remains wonderful and wonderful. The same is true of human emotions.
Perfection as we imagine it in our minds is an illusion, but when things are done in love, it comes closest to the perfection we can achieve.
Therefore, I encourage you to practice love and compassion wherever you go. Life is full of surprises and hidden paths of destiny that can lead you to places you never imagined.
All you have to do is be true to yourself and respect your heart as a guide.
Do not worry if you fail sometimes. Everyone struggles with and for authenticity – a struggle caused by social conditioning and the choice of fear instead of love.
Don’t give up your ideals just because someone has said they are unattainable. Believe in your own experiences and push your own abilities.
Because there is no one like you. There never was and there never will be. You really don’t know what you’re capable of until you try.
Keep your mind clear, your heart open, and whatever you do in life, just remember:
Do all things with love.