I have a feeling this post might upset some people. But I have thought that before and it hasn’t stopped me yet. As Valentine’s Day approaches I think of the cliché line that is often uttered in Victorian novels, romantic comedies and tales of epic romances.
I will always love you, unconditionally
I find this statement not just unrealistic but downright dangerous. The only vessels on this earth that should receive unconditional love are children and pets. For one adult to pledge to unconditionally love another adult is a little fantastical. As we all have conditions on lovers and their behavior. Many a lifetime has been destroyed trying to live up to this myth that true love will conquer all, or that somehow no matter what the obstacles love will live forever. I would agree that if the obstacles and stresses are external that this type of love should be striven for in every intimate relationship. For instance, if one is stricken with a horrible disease it is noble and inspirational if their partner stays by their side through thick and thin. That kind of unconditional love is a beautiful thing that we should all hope and strive for in this life.
But what if one partner begins to abuse, damage or hurt the other partner? What if they have sexual relationships outside the relationship without the other partners consent? What if one repeatedly puts their own needs before their partners? What if one weaves a tapestry of lies and deception living a secret life without their partner’s knowledge? Is it right to love them unconditionally despite this extremely destructive and hurtful behavior? Abusive behavior should not be brushed aside due to some vow of “unconditional” love. We should never become a doormat to an idea or notion that is unattainable. I stayed in my marriage years longer than I should have because I thought that if I loved my husband enough, that it would save the marriage. But my marriag,e constructed of lies more than anything else, was not salvageable. I had no hope in keeping it together no matter what I did.
I know of some relationships that take great pride in the length that they have survived as a couple, yet some of these relationships are no more than two co-dependent toxic people who cannot live without each other. I think of the example of the play Who’s Afraid of Virgina Wolf in which Martha and George, have been together for over two decades in a relationship of constant bickering, fighting and mutual destruction. The main forces keeping them together being fear, co-dependence and alcoholism. Is that “unconditional” love? We all know couples in our real lives that exist this way and they are nothing to envy.
I also used to find it romantic when a spouse would lose another due to death and then never remarry. After my divorce I find that notion horribly depressing and sad. Sad that the surviving spouse was never able to make that same kind of connection with another human being. They should still love and honor their deceased partner, but with enough time to grieve should try to find someone new to let into their life. As most partner’s would not want their surviving spouse to remain lonely forever.
Unconditional love is ultimately self-destructive unless it is unconditional love for ourselves. I am not saying that we should love ourselves in such a way that we don’t see our short-comings, poor choices or mistakes. We should never see ourselves as anything but the flawed human beings that we are, but if anything we should have so much love for ourselves that we don’t allow another to treat us in such destructive ways. And to hell to the silly novels, lame romantic comedies and articles in Cosmopolitan that tell us otherwise. A healthy adult relationship should have boundaries and conditions. To love someone who is abusive to you is not love, and it is nothing noble it is a form of self-loathing if nothing else.
- The Secret to Unconditional Self-Love and Loving Others Too! (rohan7things.wordpress.com)
- Model for unconditional love – your pet (counselorssoapbox.com)