What does unconditional love mean to me? It means learning to appreciate others deeply despite their flaws, mistakes and imperfections. They are the prize! It is not what they do or how they benefit me.
He did the most amazing thing ever! He called on my birthday ... We did not talk about the "messy breakup" but he wanted to wish me well. It was one of the most thoughtful things ever, considering the two and a half months of silence. As you may all know from the previous stories, I had cried many tears about this situation.
A few days later we had a texting conversation and the words unconditional love came up. If you remember from previous stories, I tend to come across as mean and selfish. Like the other person in the equation does not count. Well, I have since learnt that I need to be more specific about what I mean when I explain my abstract thoughts to others. My abstract definition of life and love definitely does not work for all! So here I am at 0116 hrs tweaking my definition of unconditional love ...
I will start with my definition of love. I believe that love is seeing the beauty in the one you love through every situation. To see them, really see who they are... To choose them, to honour them and to cherish them. Letting their inner beauty wash over the flaws and imperfections. Appreciating the depths of happiness and joy. Striving with them. Supporting them or when you can, walking beside them in their endeavours. Being the mirror to their souls. Admiring their zest for life and sharing in it with them. Unconditional love builds on this definition. Unconditional love is doing all these things; but doing them freely. Loving another without expecting anything back in return. Offering love as a gift and a blessing without keeping score. I have always added “…as long as it feels good to me.” at the end of this definition. I realise now that this line is where the consternation begins! This is where the clarification may be useful in the future.
I realised that I have been describing love and the relationship in my definition without making the distinction between the two. Unconditional love is deeply appreciating everything about the one I love. I am open to who they are, and I am willing to choose them every day. Our relationship on the other hand lasts as long as it feels good to me because our mutual safety, respect and kindness are important to me. I would like to know that we both prioritise each other's wellbeing. I would love to know that we are on the same team always. I would love to talk through the important things and get a resolution to the issues we encounter. I want us to appreciate each other for being ourselves not because we mould ourselves to fit each others needs. A safe and kind relationship framework allows unconditional love to exist and grow. There is freedom in this type of love...
Our love would be free to challenge, grow, change, expand ...If our love was free in this way then we would feel free to be ourselves. We would be free to be who we truly are. We would be free to express our truth and deepest feelings. We would feel peace knowing that our partner is willing to hear our truth; even though it was the word NO. We would be free from games and tests. We would be free to explore and experience each other’s world with no pressure, expectations and conditions. We would be free to express our love from genuine affection and devotion. We would forever learn and be unconditional in our love whilst we are together.
I always say that permanence is not guaranteed in reference to the relationship rather than the love itself. The love will be there but sometimes the structure of the relationship ( i.e. the relationship framework) needs to be re-calibrated, reviewed, cancelled or terminated because it is no longer a safe space to be within. As an example, a space where abuse and neglect exist is not a healthy framework for unconditional love. A space where another hates themselves is not a healthy framework for unconditional love. A space where there is resentment, constant judging, a lack of trust and strife is not a healthy framework for unconditional love.
I think I added "…as long as it feels good to me." as a reminder that loving another well always begins with loving myself well. If I love myself well, I would express true love to another. Not pain, coercion, manipulation or fear. Just real and honest appreciation for them. No strings attached, no control, no expectations... Loving myself well would also mean that I would value safety, kindness and respect for both of us. I would recognise when we were putting each other into difficult situations and seek to resolve them together. We would learn our own unique balance between selflessness and selfishness. We create our own relationship dynamic that allows our love to flourish.
I guess here lies another lesson, sometimes we forget to discuss the reasons for the things we do or the things we believe. We do not explain our story fully to others. They then get half the picture rather than the full picture. This misinformation can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. So,next time I plunge into the forays of love and romance, I hope I will be better equipped to explain my views on love and relationships. ( For those that get this joke, the INFJ in me is sooooo strong)
Anyways, back to the main story, I went to the internet of things and ideas and found a list that sparked my interest; 32 ways to know that your love is unconditional. I decided to add it to this post as I thought it would be insightful for those looking to check on the state of their relationship or conduct a tick sheet exercise to explore the idea of love and relationships further. I personally love tick sheets. I think I should have done one in the last relationship to see how well we did. Sometimes it is good to remind yourselves about what is amazing in your relationship whilst you figure the rest out. Anyways I will keep this list for my next foray into the world of love.
Here are 32 ways to know that you have found unconditional love:
1. When you admit your failings, your partner doesn’t shame or judge you.
2. When you get vulnerable, your partner responds with empathy and encouragement and tries to allay your fears.
3.You can tell each other the truth — even when it’s uncomfortable.
4.When you wrong each other, you actively pursue restitution and the rebuilding of trust.
5. You can forgive each other freely.
6. You don’t pick fights about petty things or hold grudges. Even when arguing, you respect each other and aim for a healthy resolution.
7. You don’t feel like you have to prove yourself (or your love) to your partner.
8. Your partner genuinely puts your needs first without the expectation of getting anything in return.
9. Your partner’s selflessness inspires your own — and vice versa.
10. You can let down your guard and be completely yourself in front of your partner.
11. Your partner can let down his guard in front of you (He/She might not cry or admit embarrassment in front of anyone else).
12. Your partner encourages and inspires you to be the best version of yourself.
13. You both see each other’s full potential — and are each other’s greatest cheerleaders.
14. You celebrate each other’s successes and get through hard times as a team.
15. You feel deep empathy for your partner.