Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, it can also be love without conditions. It is a concept comparable to true love, a term which is more frequently used to describe love between lovers. By contrast, unconditional love is frequently used to describe love between family members, comrades in arms and between others in highly committed relationships. Unconditional love is garnered and shared by those who love themselves first. Some authors make a distinction between unconditional love and conditional love. In conditional love: love is ‘earned’ on the basis of conscious or unconscious conditions being met by the lover, whereas in unconditional love, love is “given freely” to the loved one “no matter what”. Unconditional love separates the individual from her or his behavior. However, the individual may exhibit behaviors that are unacceptable in a particular situation. To begin with a simple example: one acquires a puppy. The puppy is cute, playful, and the owner’s heart swells with love for this new family member. Then the puppy urinates on the floor. The owner does not stop loving the puppy, but needs to modify the behavior through training and education. (Wikipedia)

In this article, I will do what I usually do by turning an accepted phrase or philosophy upside down and inside out in order to look at it in a different way, as well as, a more truthful way (that is, I will express opinions that many people do not want to accept or admit). I will aim to demonstrate that true love is not unconditional but oh so very CONDITIONAL…and rightly so. I will refer to some of the phrases and sentiments taken from the Wikipedia meaning of the term “unconditional love” in the paragraph above.

Unconditional love is garnered and shared by those who love themselves first.

I am in total agreement with this statement because I have come to learn via personal experience that until I loved myself I did not love anyone else. What I considered love was really self-sacrifice. In certain instances this kind of sacrifice is acceptable as a loving act – for example, not spending money on myself in order to pay for someone else’s gift, or, donating a kidney to save the life of a loved one. However, the sacrifices that most people make often require consistently putting up with abuse, disrespect or the suppression of their true self, in order to satisfy or appease others.

Unconditional love separates the individual from her or his behavior.

This is the most problematic statement in the top paragraph because – just like ‘blanket forgiveness’ – it is how most people justify the worst atrocities being committed against them and other individuals, too. I have never understood the concept of separating people from their actions – an action or behavior does not exist in a vacuum, as it needs a person to commit it, to be the agent of it: a ball will not throw itself, a book will not write itself, a gun will not fire itself…you get my drift… Some behaviors are innocent, mistaken or misguided (for example, the puppy peeing on the floor in the Wikipedia explanation above) but sooooo many are not and this is where the problem lies – if “unconditional love” requires putting up with all forms of abuse, murder, theft, betrayal, etc. etc…then it is not love, but masochism. If the first statement is taken as a given for unconditional love – that it is garnered and shared by those who love themselves first – then how is putting up with mistreatment loving? True love extends beyond the self, so those who put up with such behavior, would probably put up with these things happening to other people, too.

Conditional Love: The Real Thing.

Loving someone “no matter what” is not love at all – most people do not realize what they are saying when they are saying it. An example: I once knew a woman that was unhappily married. She met another man that she claimed she loved unconditionally – I recall her stating that she would always love him even if she found out that he had raped someone. Having been raped myself, I did not agree with this statement but only recently did I realize that she had not thought it through. This woman had two daughters. If this man had raped one or both of them, would she still love him unconditionally? I am assuming that she would want to kill him as most (loving) parents do when they find out that their children have been violated in such a manner. (I have met parents that are apologists for the abusers of their children. In my experience, these parents fall into one of two categories: they are abusers themselves, or, psychotic – that is, totally disconnected from reality usually due to repressed abuse or trauma of some kind.)

Conditional love is not about superficial conditions such as physical attractiveness, wealth, material possessions, education level and so on. Individuals have the right to prefer the company of people who fulfill these external criteria based on what they value in life but they are fooling themselves if they think it’s love. Love does not mean that people abandon others who have lost or gained too much weight, their hair, their wealth or their health. These are the actions of selfish and insensitive people who would not for one second, like being treated in the same manner. And yes, I am being judgmental here because judgments (i.e. decisions) are an integral part of life. I make judgments about who I want to associate with based on whatever conditions I deem to be loving – self-loving, first and foremost. Someone who is going to walk away or mistreat me because of the way I look or how much money I earn, is not someone that loves me nor is this person a being that I can love. This kind of conditional love is the realest love – it is also the rarest.

Helen