What? So what I have been working towards was all for nothing?
No, you’re wrong. It’s all that matters in love!
Are these or similar the thoughts going through your mind? Let me enlighten you on a popular topic.
What is unconditional love anyway?
Well, it all depends on the definition, the origin and the context in which this term is used. Obviously, like with everything.
Psychologist Carl Rogers first spoke of unconditional positive regard, a state with which therapist should be present for their clients. Abraham Maslow, also a psychologist, said that individuals needed a positive perspective (unconditional love) for themselves in order to grow.
Recently it the term has been used as a ‘must-have’ in relationships: You need to have unconditional love for your partner. First of all, you will see the irony in this: unconditional love being a condition in a relationship?
Conditional love is where love is earned based on some conditions being met. Unconditional love on the other hand is given no matter what. This needs to be seen with a little more detail.
I love you but I don’t love your behaviour
The individual needs to be separated from their behaviour. Most parents love their children. They however might not love certain behaviour, like when the child smashes a window or throws the spaghetti bolognese onto the wall.
This can be transferred onto relationships: We love our partner but we might not love them to have an affair with someone else.
In detail, this means that even though loving the person might be seen as unconditional, we do and will not (hopefully) accept any behaviour displayed.
Dedication or love?
Are you in a relationship with your lover because you truly love them or because you feed dedication or duty to stay with them? Have you learnt to “love no matter what” and victimise yourself by staying in what in reality is an unacceptable relation?
Studies have shown that when comparing brain scans of people experiencing maternal love (unconditional love) or romantic love, of the seven areas in the brain there are four active parts that were different and three of these were similar. This shows that the feeling we experience in a relationship is different from the feeling of love for a child, where we love without the need for a reward.
Reality check for relationship
You love someone because they fulfil certain of your needs. They love you because you in turn fulfil their desires. When those needs, wants and desires are not or no longer filled, we victimise the partner or ourselves, become emotional or leave the relationship. It is not because you are not able to love unconditionally.