It is not uncommon to hear someone talk about a significant other – good or bad. Whether it’s about the kind of person they are or the things they do or the way they make them feel, most are not afraid on any level to discuss a significant other with anyone from a close friend to random stranger. When you are truly in love with someone who is truly in love with you, it’ll come out. It is just a matter of when and how.

I am always amazed to hear someone talk about a significant other in the terms of unconditional love. How is that possible? Is it felonious to think of a spouse or significant other in that fashion?   What happens when that person who you unconditionally love makes a mistake or does something that you don’t like? What then? Does the unconditional love change or become something that is difficult for the person to deal with?

When someone says they love their significant other unconditionally, what are they really saying? It is a good question that at times can be a struggle to answer – especially when that person doesn’t feel as if they are receiving the same thing in return. This is especially true because the scope and nature of relationships change constantly – as people evolve (or fail to), the way we view them is different and often an outlier to how we ultimately feel about them.  This is ultimately why understanding the potential need of reappropriating relationships is important.  It does not mean you are in relationship carrying yourself in such a way that you expect the wheels to fall off. This just means in case they do – you are prepared to do what it takes to heal properly and move on.

It only makes sense that at the moment someone is not treating you right or as invested in the relationship as you that your perception of them and the relationship has the potential to change.  No one in their right mind will continue to put money in a defunct financial institution.  It shouldn’t come as a huge shock that when you try to withdraw cash from an ATM from the defunct bank that you are unable to get anything out. This premise applies similarly to loving someone unconditionally in a relationship. What happens when they make a mistake? What happens when you hit a rough patch in your relationship? What happens when one of you decides you no longer want to be in the relationship?

Loving someone in a relationship is very much conditional. When you aren’t being treated right or being overtly taken for granted – how does the idea of loving that person unconditionally make you feel? One would venture to guess that you would feel like an idiot if you continued to love someone unconditionally who had no intention of loving you the same – if at all. This is generally why we don’t fall in love with people who haven’t done anything to prove that they love us.

Unconditional love on the other hand is and should be reserved for those with whom our relationship will not likely change. Parents love their children unconditionally. This is even true of children who go wayward or do things that their parents don’t like. Regardless, they are their children and even if those moments you don’t like their behavior, decisions or life choices – you still love them because they are your children and that fact will never change. The only other instance of true unconditional love is the love you have for a higher power (if you deem yourself a spiritually inclined person).

Let’s take it a step further: when you marry someone and recite vows – do the standard vows say anything about loving someone unconditionally? Or are they centered on the premise that you will love each other through thick and thin, sickness and health etc? It is interesting to note that each person doesn’t get to operate under different vows – they are each expected to hold true to the same vows. Additionally, they don’t get to change the vows simply because they no longer fit what they want. However, the individual can make the choice to change the status of the relationship.

The idea of unconditional love in a relationship is largely misinterpreted. It borders on insane to expect that your significant other is perfect and will never make mistakes. We are human and therefore prone to screw things up from time to time. When you desire someone, it isn’t because they are perfect; it is typically because they are perfect for you and you for them. The idea of loving someone in spite of their imperfections is where the line of loving them unconditionally is misconstrued. Our ability and yearning to love someone is based on several things – namely, our capacity to give and receive love and their willingness to do the same. Unfortunately, there may come a moment in the course of the relationship or interaction where you realize that the capacity isn’t accessible. This is where the declaration of unconditional love of a significant other becomes a dubious proposition at best. Are you supposed to stay in a situation simply because you declared within your heart an unconditional love for and to that person or are you to consider reevaluating just what that means for you and your relationship?

By no means am I suggesting that it is impossible to love someone with all your heart. Any time you and someone make a commitment to each other, the idea is that you both have strong intentions of living and loving a relationship and each other with everything you’ve each got. But unconditional love is not a requirement for your relationship with that person to work. What is required is a transparent willingness to be open and comfortable with the thought that neither of you will put any one before each other. It is an unyielding commitment to being the best significant other that each of you can be. But don’t be mistaken – no relationship is without the potential for stumbling blocks and tests of will. This is because the human element is always at play in a relationship. Again, no one is perfect and there should be room for individuals to make their mistakes and have their shortcomings. But those things shouldn’t be a constant – they are an anomaly and must be handled as such.

Grace is not unconditional love. Understanding is not unconditional love. Forgiveness is not unconditional love. Biting our tongue is not unconditional love. These are things that allow individuals to start the process of finding peace within or with the situation, seeking the bigger picture and moving on with their lives. But by no means are they meant to be abused. Everyone has their breaking point and there will come a time when someone decides that they’ve had enough. This is especially true when they’ve not always been offered the same. It should not come as shock when someone who’s dealing with someone who doesn’t have the capacity to love them makes the decision to take control of the situation and make a change. The two words no one should ever want to hear in a relationship: I’m Done.

Conditional Love forces us to always consider what we are doing in a relationship. Conditional love forces us to be self-reflective. Conditional love forces us to be willing to receive criticism (hopefully constructive) from our significant others. Conditional love forces us to constantly do the work on ourselves and the relationship. Conditional love forces us to evaluate the relationship we have versus the relationship we want. Conditional love forces honesty to be a top priority in a relationship.

Food for thought….

People who strive to change the world don't take the high road; they build it - @MaxwellWStyles