I don’t believe that we have to love our beloveds all the time. I believe instead that all relationships come with conditions, and that perhaps this calls for a re-translation of love, or at least a new way of looking at love’s permutations.
Unconditional love embraces full-on empathy and lack of judgment. But judgment helps us define what we believe in and asks us to stand for our beliefs. What I mean by judgment here is the kind that does not block us from being open-minded, but rather emerges from understanding what we stand for, according to our deepest and most innate feelings and beliefs. This is not the same judgment based on fear or principles that we absorb from society, our parents, or other sources without thinking for ourselves. It is the kind of judgment that gives the other a chance, but up to a certain limit, depending on where our boundaries lie.
Boundaries are what we create to define who we are, and also to protect ourselves from that which can harm us. I don’t necessarily love you when your behavior is harmful. If you are my child and you are a murderer, I still love you, but I will hate what you do. The condition for the totality of my total love, appreciation, and presence depends on your behavior. But if I believe that the only way to love is unconditionally, is this not a kind of permissiveness that allows for behavior without boundaries where you leave yourself unprotected?
This begs the question, can I love you and not love or agree with the way you behave or think? Can we not acknowledge that what the other may need for his or her own growth process is something that we don’t have to embrace or be next to all the time? When the conditions are not comfortable for me, my desire then is to let you go out on your own to work out your material. And this is where love becomes like a bungee cord, where it can extend far out and be elastic enough to allow for a return when the time is right.
Love for me is not linear or rigid. It is not something that has to be permanent and unwavering. Think of the universe and how it is a constant state of motion and change. Love is like this. As humans we just can’t hold another person in the same way all the time. If we are to accept ourselves fully in this humanness I think we need to acknowledge that we don’t always love our children, our family, our lovers, even ourselves… and this acceptance is liberating. We don’t have to hold to a doctrine of love that makes us feel guilty when the other is not lovable. I believe that it is key is to examine your conditions, to make sure they are flexible and not too dogmatic or strict, but there to protect you from unnecessary damage and pain.
We are all accountable and in this regard there are always going to be conditions for love, comfort, and happiness. Instead of this ideal of unconditional love, we can accept that our loved ones are not always lovable and develop a steadiness that holds them in a place where we don’t deny them who they are and what they must go through at given times in their lives.
Ask yourself what are the basic needs to keep your relationship healthy, productive, and conscious and see where your emotions take you on the voyage of learning from another. With wisdom and flexibility we can accept conditional love that respects our personal boundaries.
For more on the subject, please tune in to my podcast on “kadisova talks”