Some notes on the conditional nature of being human.
Here’s my take… I truly believe that Love (with a capital L) is unconditional. However, I believe that relationships are always conditional to a certain extent, and need to be in order to be healthy. Love and relationships are two different (although related) things.
I love a conditional love.
I love a love where we put our cards in the table. We make known our needs and wants and establish what we can and cannot do for each other. We negotiate, renegotiate, and evolve our abilities to care for each other based on our needs.
Maybe conditions are a helpful framework - if your conditions are compatible then the relationship works? I know nothing.
Hi, friend. I am weirdly presumptuous and I think of you as a friend. I'm saying this as a person who is getting divorced -- I do not understand the way that the vast majority of relationships fall into this binary, where you love someone and therefore have to negate your own needs or you decide to leave and all of the commitment and love goes away. I made the decision to leave my relationship because I tried to express my needs in the form of boundaries and so did he, and it became apparent that we had conflicting needs. He wanted to stay in, I saw that there was no way it was going to work. BUT - we have little kids. We've been in each other's lives for more than half of them. It seems insane to me that now that we will no longer be romantically linked, we therefore have no responsibility for each other. I have family members who I absolutely could NOT live with because we would make each other nuts, but that doesn't mean that I won't go to the mat for them when needed.
I think that feeling of "If you loved me, you would do X" is just a reason to really dig in and witness your own unmet need. And then ask yourself, if that person can't meet it, can I meet it myself? Don't ask yourself, "Do you REALLY need that?" because down that path lies bad things. If you're feeling resentment, if you're thinking those thoughts, then that's information.
I've been with my partner for 20 years. I love her more now than ever before. To me, love is thinking of her needs first and how I can meet them without sacrificing too much of myself along the way.
We also judge situations on how important they are long term. I'd sacrifice ALL of myself if she was in danger but smaller things can be more give and take.
This was thought provoking-
My mother put me in a position. She basically said I should learn to like to do the dishes and like it because I was helping her. I never got to that point. I did manage to like the sense of accomplishment that a cleaned up stack of dishes left me with. I'm not sure what that had to do with love, but it was implied by the context, "if you loved me, you'd do the dishes and enjoy it."
I'm considering the idea of emotional blackmail. And related, the idea that keeping someone close or keeping close to them myself is or is not the same as loving them.
Grief haunts me. If someone I love dies or leaves to not interact, does that mean I loved them when I experience grief? Or, is grief just a generalized loss? If a place is destroyed, and I experience the loss as grief, does it mean I loved a place?
In the positive, does feeling "at home" with a person mean I love them?
About all of these things, I don't know, but I also feel as though I know something of love.
It feels like you and I are talking to our therapist about the same thing. I love my wife, and I’ve told myself that because I love her, I need to always prioritize her needs. I’m learning; I'm doing this not under the context of unconditional love, but I’m seeking a conflict-free relationship. This is impossible. We have to accept and love each other even in those moments when we can't compromise, sacrifice, or prioritize.
Thank you Carissa for your newsletter! I liked your point of view, about love being conditional and not UNCONDITIONAL! this changes everything! It changes the whole perspective on relationships and how to get involved with people... there are many conditions, can you still love a lot if the conditions are not being 'done'? a simple and complex feeling, just like us.