We’ve all heard about how wonderful it is to be unconditionally loved and to have unconditional love for someone else, but is that actually ideal? I don’t think so. In fact, I believe some conditions in a relationship are absolutely necessary to ensure that you don’t get hurt or taken advantage of by your partner or vice versa. It’s just that too often, unconditional love leads to one-sided relationships and that conditional love is so much healthier.
- People have different perceptions of “unconditional love.” Even if you talk about it, rarely is anyone on the exact same page about what unconditional even is. I think that is because we all interpret things differently and rarely is anyone’s viewpoint going to exactly match up with someone else’s. For some people, unconditional love covers anything and everything. For others, it only covers certain behaviors. Even if you spell it out, write it down and unpack it many times over, unconditional love is too amorphous of an idea to be the same for anyone.
- Conditions in the form of expectations and standards promote mutual growth. Conditions serve as healthy benchmarks in a relationship. They allow each person to rise to the occasion that is the relationship. Together, both people grow and become better partners and better people. Requiring that your partner meet certain expectations to be in a relationship with you shows that you honor and respect yourself, and vice versa. I think that when each partner has expectations for the other, both people are happier and the roots of the relationship effortlessly grow deeper.
- Conditions in the form of boundaries allow you to protect yourself. You need to know when you say no. You need to know what your last straw is. You need to know how to separate yourself from someone who causes you harm. If you love your partner unconditionally, you love without limits. No limits mean no boundaries. No boundaries mean that you leave yourself open to being taken advantage of by the person you love.
- Your partner should continuously earn you Don’t let your partner get so comfortable that they think you’ll always be there. They should earn you. Every. Single. Day. Same goes in reverse. You earn a living largely so that you can live the lifestyle that you want, right? Well, you should earn your relationship too for the same reasons.
- Relationships require work to make them last. Like a job, you can’t just take off for a week, drop your obligations and not tell anyone. If you love someone unconditionally you’re effectively saying that anything goes in your relationship and that your partner doesn’t have to put in work. Not only does this create a one-sided relationship in which one person receives all the benefits, but it also creates a dangerous co-dependency between you two. Sometimes this means that your partner depends on you to do and tolerate everything for and from him, and you depend on him to validate you by taking from you. It’s not healthy.
- Unconditional love perpetuates abusive relationships. If you love without limits, you’ll love someone even when they mistreat you. It’s extremely unhealthy and you deserve better. If you have limits and know your boundaries, you’ll be able to escape an abusive relationship a lot more quickly than if you love unconditionally because you won’t believe that it’s okay to be treated that way.
- Love shouldn’t have to hurt. This is real. Love shouldn’t have to hurt. In my experience, when I’ve loved unconditionally I’ve ended up hurting more because I expected that he would love me back in a similar way. Now I realize that it just doesn’t work like that. I would have been better off by establishing conditions and boundaries in the beginning so that I wouldn’t get hurt as badly. Sometimes I find that we get hurt more because we fail to stick up for ourselves when we know we should have.
- Each partner should be accountable for their behavior. Accountability is everything. No one should get away with being a negative force in someone else’s life, especially when you entrust someone to treat you with love and respect.
- The only person you should unconditionally love is yourself. This is the only one-sided relationship, except for maybe the one between parent and child, that deserves unconditional love always and forever. You must love yourself unconditionally because you are going to make mistakes, you are going to fall, you are going to break, you are going to wither. And if you can’t love and honor yourself through all of that regardless of a relationship, you might meet some trouble. The same way you love yourself doesn’t have to apply in your romantic relationships and in fact, it definitely shouldn’t.