Unconditional love is a very noble idea. It means that we respect the other person the way he or she is, with no conditions and no expectations of receiving anything in return. The question, however, is – does unconditional love create healthy relationships? “I love him so much, unconditionally” – I hear this phrase often from women, who afterward, are crying because they have been cheated on or disrespected.
Here is my question to you. Is a couple relationship about unconditional love? Do you only want to give without wanting to receive? I don’t think so. Each of us wants to feel loved, respected, cherished, and get many other wonderful emotions or gifts from the heart.
Unconditional love exists, that is for sure. You received it from your family, your parents. Your mother loved you unconditionally. She changed your diapers, fed you, and satisfied all your needs when you were a baby. She did all this without expecting anything in return. What can you expect from a small baby, who is not even self-aware?
Parental love is unconditional because it is of hierarchical nature. Let me explain. Your parents came to this world earlier, so they preceded you. They gave you life, nurtured you, and took care of you. They were in a ‘giving’ attitude of unconditional love. In the hierarchy, they stand above, and you as a child, below. Parents give and children take.
Can we have unconditional love in a couple relationship?
A couple relationship looks different. A man and a woman come together. They are not in a parent-child relationship. There is no hierarchy here. A man and a woman create a relationship of two equals.
Can we have unconditional love in a couple relationship? My simple answer is no. The dangers of unconditional love are that we lose our boundaries, give too much without paying attention if the other person gives back to us. Imagine you are in this wonderful relationship, and you love this person the way he or she is. Then he starts to disrespect you and shows abusive behavior. One moment he hits you, the other he buys you “I-am sorry-flowers”. As research shows, in unconditional love, the emphasis is upon the lover’s attitude toward the beloved, rather than toward reality.
I still hear women who say:
“I cannot leave him, because I love him so much, and I hope we can get through this together”.
If you are a woman with such an attitude of loving someone despite what he does, then you exhibit a masochistic trait, self-inflicted of course.
If not unconditional love, then what? What is the secret ingredient of a well-functioning couple relationship?
Balance is what makes the couple relationship function. Exchange in giving and taking. Exchange of love. Mature love is healthy love. It takes two to give and two to take. If you are constantly giving and your partner is just taking, then look for patterns in your family of origin. It can be a family dynamic, which you learned in your childhood from your parents that is playing out in your adult life.
The glass is always half empty or half full. The glass is half-empty if you lack self-love. If you desperately want to be loved without expecting fair treatment in return. Your glass is half-full when you give and receive. When you can live on your own without projecting soaring expectations on your partner. All expectations you have are, actually, unsatisfied expectations from your childhood towards your parents. A healthy adult has no expectations, is able to give and observe if his or her partner gives back. Then the balance is right and love can succeed.