The search for unconditional love in adulthood

In my work as a therapist for BIPOC and immigrant populations, many clients have shared that they feel like they never received unconditional love from their parents. As children they were used to having to work for love, approval and acceptance, and love was only shown if they behaved well, got good grades and did what they wanted. they were told. Moreover, although they did not receive unconditional love, these children often did as they were told out of duty, obligation and guilt.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Play Therapy,

In the process of acculturation, an intergenerational gap between Korean immigrant parents and their children develops. Korean immigrant parents live with uncertainty and misunderstanding, so they often fail to consistently parent their children. Due to the influences of Confucianism, Korean parents expect their children to respect them and show unquestioning obedience.

Korean parents’ high expectations for their children’s schoolwork, as well as parents’ willingness to sacrifice for their children, can cause Korean American children to feel guilty, worthless, and helpless when they fail to meet expectations. of their parents.

It’s healthy to have conditions

As adults, these adult children often suffer silently in toxic relationships, searching for a type of love that doesn’t exist in adulthood, because it turns out it actually is. healthy to have conditions. They believe that self-sacrifice and setting aside their needs for someone else’s is what constitutes love, allowing for codependent relationship dynamics.

However, Esther Perel, psychotherapist and best-selling author of The state of affairs and mating in captivityrecently shared, “Whether it’s because we feel like we don’t deserve better, because we’re afraid of being alone, or because we feel like we have no choice, all of those painful and complicated feelings lurk sometimes under the banner of ‘unconditional love‘. However, she added, “Love is not an obligation, it is a gift.

It’s healthy to have conditions because we all deserve to have our needs met, but the concept of “unconditional love” can convince us to stay in harmful situations or relationships. However, even gravity is conditional.

Identify your non-negotiables

This is why it is important to identify its non-negotiable elements or those that are not suitable when entering a relationship as an adult. Would you still love your partner even if he cheated on you? Would you still love them if you had different values? Would you still love them if they physically or emotionally abused you?

It might sound familiar and safe to say that you’ll love them no matter what, especially since that’s all you’ve ever wanted to hear. But it’s important not to let your past traumas and unmet needs allow you to continue to love someone unconditionally even if they don’t meet your needs.