Advertising
Advertising

There’s No Such Thing as Unconditional Love. You Either Love Someone or You Don’t

There’s No Such Thing as Unconditional Love. You Either Love Someone or You Don’t

One of the most dangerous sentiments out there is the concept of unconditional love. We’ve been sold it for as long as any of us can remember. Everything in fiction depends on it. The wedding industry thrives upon it. It’s a concept that is so ingrained into the world that those who don’t believe in it are considered sad or somehow malformed. True, unconditional love is the thing to which all people are supposed to aspire. If you can’t find it, you’re missing something terribly important – at least, as far as the story goes. The truth is, there’s no such thing as unconditional love.

Love does exist, but it’s conditional

Sounds cynical, right? The very idea of dismissing unconditional love probably makes your skin crawl. To be fair, most of the people who would dismiss this kind of idea are pretty cynical. What they’re trying to sell is the idea that love doesn’t exist at all [1]. That’s not what’s being said here, though. There’s absolutely such a thing as love. Whether you think it’s something spiritual, something romantic, or just a bunch of chemicals, love is a real thing. Love is wonderful and it’s definitely worth seeking out. The thing that is problematic, though, is the idea that love should somehow be without conditions.

Advertising

First and foremost, it’s impossible for something to exist without attached conditions. You either do something, or you don’t. You can love someone truly, or you can not love someone . There are things that would make even the most romantic person fall out of love with another person. Imagine the most horrifying thing you can imagine, and then imagine your loved one did that. Could you still look them in the face? Could you still love them? If you did, what kind of monster would you be? That’s not love – that’s slavish devotion, and that’s never good.

Unconditional love can be a leash

We see the problems with so-called unconditional love whenever we see relationships with a power differential. How many relationships have you seen in which one person mistreats the other, yet the weaker partner will forgive anything? You don’t admire that sentiment, do you? You think of that person as weak, as deluded, as ultimately unable to do the right thing. Yet somehow, in theory, you might still believe that unconditional love is a good thing. If you apply the same standards to other people that you would to a complete stranger, you’d stop obsessing over the concept.

Advertising

Putting reasonable conditions and expectations on love makes a stronger relationship

Putting conditions on love [2] doesn’t make it weaker. It makes it far more honest. When you say you love someone, you are saying that you love who they represent themselves as. You love all the things that come together to make them a person. If one of those things was removed, it’s entirely possible that the reasons for your feelings would go away. It’s like a Jenga tower – there’s only so much that you can add or take away without making the entire thing fall over. Love can’t be built on that kind of foundation.

There’s a lot of freedom in abandoning a concept like unconditional love. If you move away from it, you realize that you can begin to reasonably put expectations on how another person treats you and acts. You aren’t committing some kind of horrible act if you walk away from someone who treats you poorly – you are being honest about the fact that you want a strong foundation for your love. You aren’t married to some kind of outdated, outmoded myth. You want real love, the kind that is able to last. You want to be able to experience love as a positive force rather than one that is limiting.

Advertising

Love is a verb. It’s something you do

If you except that fact that love is conditional [3], you can also begin to accept the fact that love is a verb. Love is something you do, not something that just happens. When you start to believe this, you start to believe that you will actually have to work for the love of someone else. You can’t be lazy and complacent, because you remember you are loved for what you do, not just who you are. You will suddenly become a better partner because you realize that the other person in your relationship actually deserves some effort.

Should love be thrown away at the drop of a hat? No. It’s something that’s worth preserving. You should not, however, trap yourself just because you think love has to be eternal. This gives you the freedom to love people but to still expect effort from them. It helps you from being trapped by tradition and allows you the chance to be a better person. The more you realize that love is conditional, the more you will be able to see how conditional love is the best thing that could happen to you. Conditional love can last – but it’s built on a foundation or realism, not fantasy.

Advertising

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Is Unconditional Love Possible?
[2] Psych Central: When Unconditional Love Has Conditions
[3] Garden Plants Nursery: Unconditional Love

More by this author

Tammy Sons

Master Gardener, Horticulurist, Arborist

There’s No Such Thing as Unconditional Love. You Either Love Someone or You Don’t To Really Overcome Grief, You Have to Experience These 5 Stages Supercharge Brain Health With These Foods Anxiety and Depression Are Linked To Chemical Brain Imbalances Motovational Tips For Procrastinators

Trending in Psychology

1 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 2 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 3 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 4 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 5 How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

Advertising

    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

      Advertising

        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

          Advertising

          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

          Advertising

          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

          Read Next