People create all kinds of elaborate rules on how to identify “The One”. For many, unconditional love tops the list of must-haves in a romantic relationship.
Do not mistake yourself. Believing in the possibilities of love is admirable, and there is certainly nothing wrong with aiming to be loved. This is, after all, a pretty reasonable request when you’re in a long-term relationship.
But if you are one of the many women or men who seek unconditional love in a romantic relationship, you might want to ask yourself: why is the unconditional part so important?
Think about it for a second: maybe you are just looking for someone who you are freely on your own without worrying about judgment. Maybe your desire for that all-encompassing love is the result of a past experience or a loveless or ultra-critical ex.
Ask yourself this question: does it come from a desire not to feel judged, or to want to feel safe and loved no matter what?
The truth is, there is never absolute security in a relationship. Even living as authentically as possible (and despite long, endless nighttime chats or intensive couples therapy), you’ll never know another person completely.
So how can you claim to love another person unconditionally without really knowing them completely?
Nothing is 100% yours when you talk about the inner workings of another person’s mind (or heart, for that matter). What a lot of people don’t understand is that thinking otherwise exposes you and your partner to failure and disappointment.
It basically means you’ve put them on a pedestal. The major problem with this is that every person has flaws. People change. If you only see the “divine” qualities of your partner, you will blindly miss out on these important changes.
Loving someone without limits also puts you at risk for tolerating things that are not in your best interests. Forgiveness is generally healthy, powerful, even liberating. But if your partner isn’t 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 keep you from providing healthy feedback or expressing your dissatisfaction.
If you don’t speak honestly, how will your relationship someday develop? If your relationship doesn’t grow and evolve over time, you have another problem: boredom. It is certainly a fast track to dissatisfaction.
The danger with unconditional love is that you will be constantly looking for proof or confirmation. The question “Does he really love me no matter what?” Will always torment you.
In fact, you may find yourself doing small experiments and collecting data for or against “hard-core” testing, which means you’ll always be looking for clues as to which category your partner falls into.
You might even think, “If he really loves me unconditionally, he would feel attracted to me when I wake up in the morning with the flu â, orâ If he really love me unconditionally, he wouldn’t act so bored when I leave my laundry in the washing machine. “
Before we embark on something so serious, we have to ask ourselves if loving someone to these extremes is really worth it.
After all, we don’t even love each other unconditionally. Usually we ask ourselves to meet certain expectations before letting self-esteem sink (when you’re 10 pounds lighter or when you’re more successful at work).
The point is, even giving yourself this kind of love is extremely difficult. In this 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?
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Does that always mean loving someone the same way even if they’re not the best? That might always mean forgiving, or promising never to withdraw your love, even if it’s not the same person. If you include any of these in your definition, you are stepping into scary territory.
People who have truly healthy, successful, and secure relationships aren’t haunted by this needy hunt for unconditional love. Instead of focusing on having a partner love you unconditionally, focus on why having that person is so important. Is there a fear of losing the person or a lack of compassion, empathy or kindness?
Talk openly about your fears with your partner, keeping in mind that the pursuit of unconditional love is often a concern for those who don’t feel truly loved, safe, or understood by their partner. Most importantly, remember that you absolutely deserve a relationship in which you feel loved.
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Dr. Marie Land is a psychologist and expert in relationships and eating issues. For more information, visit it website.