The other night, my daughter asked me whether I still loved her father (from whom I am now divorced). It was tough to answer and it made me think.
The word “love” has numerous definitions including, but not limited to: If you love someone, you feel romantically or sexually attracted to them, and they are very important to you. OR: Love is a strong liking for something, or a belief that it is important. AND: Love is the feeling that a person’s happiness is very important to you, and the way you show this feeling in your behaviour towards them.
Collins describes the word “unconditional” as follows: If you describe something as unconditional, you mean that the person doing or giving it does not require anything to be done by other people in exchange.
As far as romantic love goes, the only type that doesn’t require anything in return is unrequited love, which we all know is no fun at all. Love, as we take it to mean, is always expected to be reciprocal in some way or another.
People are awfully quick to label their exes as narcissists and themselves as the poor victims. They are very quick to label others as “toxic” and “negative” and use it as an excuse to cut them off and walk away. We are constantly bombarded with messages that we don’t have to stand for any negativity and we don’t have to “settle” because we deserve better! This is another problem with modern society and it’s pop psychology wisdom. Although it might all be true, it is too often taken out of context!
Please note: I am not minimising very real psychological disorders. I am definitely NOT advocating being someone else’s punch bag – physical or emotional!
Am I the only one who listens to a friend’s woeful tale of her (please interchange pronouns as suitable! This is just an example!) husband / boyfriend/ partner’s awful behaviour and wonders what she did to cause it? Is / was he really a narcissist, or did you just read something that makes you feel better about yourself and truly, he was just being a bit of an asshole? Or were you the one being a bit of an asshole and he simply reacted?
Listen, I am no angel. I am certainly not the most emotionally stable creature on the planet. There have been times (some of them rather recently) where my emotions ran sky-high and I lost my shit. LOST. MY. SHIT. I am not proud of it and I work very, very hard to prevent getting into situations where I react that way. It’s not always possible. I am human. The people around me are human also. It doesn’t mean (contrary to what my ex-husband will have you believe) that I am a bad person. It doesn’t mean that “they” are bad people. We were all just having a bad day. Or a bad week, even.
I was told once that we do not “deserve” to be loved. We simply are loved. This would imply no conditions; that we are simply loved for who we are. Yet, when I look at people whose relationships have lasted, it has taken compromise, compassion and vast amounts of “settling”. That “settling” involves setting “terms & conditions”. These conditions can be violated leading to a breakdown in the relationship…not quite “unconditional”…
I don’t think it is possible to love someone unconditionally, or not without losing yourself . When a relationship ends, for whatever reason, you always have to take time to “find yourself” again. In fact, I don’t believe it’s possible to love without losing at least some of yourself. If you aren’t capable of giving of yourself, then surely you are incapable of love?