Your quest can set you on an impossible journey to find an ideal partner. The problem is often twofold: No human being, nor any relationship can ever achieve perfection, and often unconditional and conditional love are confused. Of all relationships, parental love, particularly maternal love, is the most enduring form of unconditional love.
In prior generations, paternal love was thought of as conditional. But in fact, most parents withdraw their love when over-stressed or when their children misbehave. To a child, even time-outs can feel emotionally abandoning. Right or wrong, most parents at times only love their children conditionally. Is Unconditional Love Possible? Unlike romantic love, unconditional love does not seek pleasure or gratification.
Love that is unconditional transcends time, place, behavior, and worldly concerns. The motives and reasons of the heart are unfathomable, writes Carson McCullers: The preacher may love a fallen woman.
The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else — but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit. McCullers explains that most of us prefer to love than be loved: It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved.
Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. Ideally, the giving and receiving of unconditional love is a unitary experience. Couples experience this most frequently when falling in love. It also happens when someone fearlessly opens up to us in an intimate setting. This allows energy to flow into places of resistance that surround our heart and can be deeply healing.
It can happen during moments of vulnerability during therapy. We all have our preferences, idiosyncrasies, and particular tastes and needs, which have been conditioned by our upbringing, religion, society, and experiences.
They match up with ours and give us comfort, companionship, and pleasure. The combination of both forms of love in one relationship makes our attraction intense. This can be helped in marriage counseling when individuals learn empathy and the language of intimacy. On the other hand, some couples fight all the time, but stay together because of they share a deep unconditional love for each other. In couples counseling, they can learn to communicate in healthier, non-defensive ways that allow their love to flow.
Other times, the problems in the relationship concern basic values or needs, and one partner or the couple decide to separate despite their love. Closing our heart in self-protection only hurts us. It limits our joy and aliveness. Dating Dating stirs up unrealistic hopes of finding constant unconditional love, because often we allow our conditional needs to take a backseat to the unconditional love that naturally arises early on.
But later we wonder if we can live with the other person day in and day out. The reverse can happen, too. It might seem so, because the conditional and unconditional rarely overlap. It is even more problematic to accept love when one does receive it. Partners feel lonely and disconnected from each other, even if the marriage looks good to others.
Actually, striving after it removes us from the experience. He believes that we can glimpse it through mindfulness meditation. By observing our breath, we become more present and can appreciate our basic goodness. In mediation and in therapy, we find those places we choose to hide from ourselves and others.
In trying to reform ourselves, we necessarily create inner conflict, which alienates us from our true self and self-acceptance. See Conquering Shame and Codependency: That is conditional love, which motivates us to seek unconditional love from others, when we need to give it to ourselves. The more we fight against ourselves, the more we constrict our hearts.
Instead of self-judgment, exploration and empathy are necessary. People often enter therapy to change themselves, but hopefully come to accept themselves. Relationships Shame causes problems in relationships, as explained in my book, Conquering Shame. Our self-defeating beliefs and defensive behavior patterns, which were developed in childhood to protect us from shame and emotional abandonment, prevent intimate connection in our adult relationships.
Like compliments that we deflect or distrust, we can only receive as much love as we believe we deserve — why McCullers and Firestone agree that receiving love can pose the biggest obstacle to having it. Healing internalized shame is often prerequisite to finding love. Relationships can provide a path to opening the frozen places in our hearts. Love can melt a closed heart.
However, maintaining that openness demands courage. The struggle for intimacy challenges us to continually reveal ourselves. The triggers from our past yield opportunities to heal and embrace more of ourselves. Healing happens not so much through acceptance by our partner, but in our own self-disclosure. This also happens in a therapeutic relationship.
Only we can do that. Houghton Mifflin Company, Mariner Books ed. American Psychological Association, Trungpa, C. The Sacred Path of the Warrior Boston: