- Gender and Relationships
Unconditional Love- No Strings Attached
We've heard that love is an action word. And our culture (influenced by Christianity) tells us that that love should be unconditional. Perhaps we have said the phrase so much it has become cliché and meaningless. I want to bring the meaning back for a little while. For most of us, the early years somewhere between our birth and age 15 we assume that everyone see's the world the same way we do, so it is often difficult to relate with people. I have noticed as I examine my motivations that I am not the perfect person I once thought I was. I share the core motive of relationships with many other people, with that motivation sometimes comes the unhealthy characteristic of conditional love, and the practice of getting to get... loving with strings attached.
Conditional and Unconditional Love
When someone loves with strings attached they set up a mental rule book, I will only love you if you meet requirements A, B, and C. "I will only love you if you love me too", or "I am only helping me so you will love me back". I believe the reasoning behind conditional love is the preservation of a relationship, however, setting these stipulations often smother the friendship, while loving regardless will often help it bloom. It's reverse logic. I'm not saying it is a bad thing to set stipulations relationships that are permanent (ex. marriage) I suppose it is appropriate to set standards for those kinds of things, but when it is a friendship with a family member or our next door neighbor, it's okay to be less picky.
Unconditional Love says I will love you no matter how much I dislike you, I will love you no matter what you do. Unconditional love IS NOT CODEPENDENCY, Unlike codependency, unconditional love is not based on yourself, your emotions, or your needs.
I believe there is a large enough christian base here that would appreciate this bit of the article, and if you are not christian I think you will be able to take it for what it's worth regardless of where it is from. First of all the first two commandments in Christianity are based on love (Love for god and love for our "neighbors". In the Old Testament there is a little scripture in Leviticus that states: "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself". It is interesting to note that this idea was not wholly introduced in the New Testament, the idea had been around for ages.
The second scripture I want to bring up is from the same book in Leviticus, only It is one verse previous. It states: "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him." Basically, It is okay not to tolerate someones actions and still love them, you can rebuke someone out of love, for their sake so they will be happy in the long run.
The 5 Love Languages
The Five Love Languages is a theory of different love "languages" that people understand, being:
1. Words of Affirmation (complements and verbal or written encouragement)
2.Quality Time ( Being with someone, focusing on them, discussing topics of interest for them)
3. Receiving Gifts ( Little reminders of the people they love, these do not have to be big)
4.Acts of Service (Doing things for another person that make them happier and took some effort to complete)
5. Physical Touch (Hugs, kisses, handshakes, pats on the back, all forms of body contact.)
The reason I bring up these love languages is because i think it is important to realize that, just because we think we are expressing love does not mean it is being felt. All kinds of love are work, and different kinds of effort must be put into relationships with different kinds of people.
The Giving Tree
The sad thing about unconditional love is that sometimes it is one sided. in Shel Silversteins book The Giving Tree this is the case, in the book there is a tree that the boy loves to climb and play on and eat it's apples. The tree loves the little boy and does all she can to make him happy. Through the years he takes her apples, her branches, and finally her trunk. The book ends with the tree saying she has no more apples, branches or trunk to give. The boy tells her he doesn't need any of that, just a quiet place to sit, in which she tells him that a trunk is perfect for that. So he sits and she is happy.
The interesting thing about this book is that the boy never seems happy after he leaves the tree and uses all she has. The one that seems happy is the tree, and she is the one giving everything she has. The book would suggest that pure true unconditional love is the real thing that will make a person happy.
Today about 60% of popular songs are about love (according to research at the University of Florida http://news.ufl.edu/2007/05/31/pop-songs/). The only problem with this overwhelming bombardment of different messages is that most of these "love" songs are really about lust and sexual attraction which are more on the selfish side of things rather than the undying service and sacrifice that unconditional love brings. There are so many songs that repeat catchy but very wrong phrases over and over that people begin to believe them. lust is a dying phase, love is a force that will glue a beautiful relationship permanently.
loving someone without stings attached is the only way to go. Yes you can have expectations, but you have to love them even when they fail to meet them, and very possibly they will come back one day and realize that they were in the wrong.