Sorry, Unconditional Love Is Total Bullsh*t (And, Here's Why)

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The brutal truth is that there's never absolute safety or security in ANY relationship.

People create all sorts of elaborate rules about how to identify "The One".

For many, unconditional love is at the top of their list of must-haves in a romantic relationship.

Don't get me wrong. Believing in love's possibilities is admirable, and there's certainly nothing wrong with having the goal of being loved. That is, after all, a pretty reasonable request when you're in long-term relationship.

But if you're one of the many women or men seeking unconditional love in a romantic relationship, you may want to ask yourself—WHY is the unconditional part so important?

Think about it for a second: Perhaps you're merely looking for someone with whom you're freely yourself without worrying about judgment. Maybe your desire for this all-encompassing love is the result of a past experience or an unloving or ultra-critical ex.

Ask yourself this question: Does it stem from a desire to not feel judged or wanting to feel safe and loved no matter what?

The truth is that there's never absolute safety or security in ANY relationship. Even when living as authentically as possible (and despite endless long night talks or intensive couple's therapy), you will never completely know another person.

So my point is—how can anyone claim to love another person unconditionally without really knowing that person completely?

Nothing is ever yours 100% when talking about the internal workings of another person's mind (or heart, for that matter). What many people don’t understand is that thinking otherwise sets both you and your partner up for failure and disappointment.

It essentially means you've put them on a pedestal. The major problem with that is—every single person has flaws. People change. If all you see are your partner's "god-like" qualities, you'll blindly miss these important changes.

Loving someone with no limits also puts you at risk for tolerating things not in your best interest. Forgiveness is usually healthy, powerful, even freeing. But if your partner is not treating you well, does that mean you should stay in the relationship no matter what? 

Even in an otherwise strong relationship, the desire to love unconditionally can prevent you from providing healthy feedback or expressing dissatisfaction.

If you don’t speak up honestly, how will your relationship ever grow? If your relationship doesn’t grow and evolve over time, you encounter another problem … boredom! That’s definitely a fast track to dissatisfaction.

The danger with unconditional is that you will constantly be looking for evidence or confirmation. The question "Does he really love me, no matter what?" will always plague you.

In fact, you may find yourself running little experiments and collecting data either for or against the "unconditional" test, which means you'll always look for clues to determine which category your partner fits into.

You might even find yourself thinking, "If he REALLY loves me unconditionally, he'd feel attracted to me when I wake up in the morning with the flu!” or "If he really loves me unconditionally, he wouldn’t act so annoyed when I leave my laundry in the washing machine."

Before we jump into something so serious, we need to ask ourselves whether or not loving someone to those extremes is really worth it.

After all, we don't even love ourselves unconditionally! Usually we require ourselves to hit certain expectations before we'll let the self-love flow (when you're 10 pounds lighter, or when you're more successful at work). 

The point is, even giving that type of love to oneself is extremely difficult. In that case, how is it possible to give it to another person?

So, ask yourself—what types of behaviors and beliefs represent unconditional love to you?

Does it mean always loving someone the same amount even if they aren’t their best?  Perhaps it means always forgiving, or promising never to withdraw your love, even if they are not the same person. If you include any of these in your definition, then you're entering scary territory.

People who are in truly healthy, successful, and secure relationships are not haunted by this needy hunt for unconditional love. Instead of focusing on getting a partner to love you unconditionally, focus on the reasons why having that person is so important. Is there a fear of losing the person or a lack of compassion, empathy, or kindness?

Talk to your partner openly about your fears, keeping in mind that the search for unconditional love is often a preoccupation for those who do not truly feel loved, secure, or understood by their partner.

Most importantly, remember that you absolutely do deserve a relationship in which you feel loved!

Dr. Marie Land is a psychologist in Washington DC. She provides therapy to adults with relationship issues and eating disorders. 7 Ways to Win at Romantic Poker 


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