Books have been written, songs have been sang for centuries about love. We mention it every day and we are all desperate to feel it, to cherish it and to taste its flavor. In our diaries, our mind and discussion group we have reasoned, analyzed, contemplated and come up with our own definition and understanding to what love is; which they will be changed with time. A girl who grew up with a lot of romantic stories and beautiful love songs will romanticize and fantasize about love and it is all she ever wanted and thought about; until she met a boy who breaks her heart; and love becomes a cruel sword… no more romantic.
Discussing love with your friends always leads to a lot of disagreement. I cannot think of a group of people discussing about love to come up with a common understanding. Our personal experience is different in that department: some of us are desperate for it and some of us got our heart broken. We debate with passion on what we believe about love to questions like, is there love at first sight? Is there such a thing as a soul mate? Is there true love? Can love pay the bills? And also the question that this article would like to discuss is, is love unconditional?
It is a common statement among many that love is unconditional or must be unconditional. By unconditional we mean loving a person for what he really is and not having a standard of qualifications to love someone; it is to love a person without expecting a return; it is not loving only when he or she acts, thinks, believes, or feels in ways that we prefer. And I wonder if love is unconditional, what is making all the great relations to come to an end? Couples who once upon a time were madly in love with each other, now they don’t get tired of going to the court; begging for divorce. What could possibly happen to their love? Could it be because one of them started losing interest and someone was mad not getting all the attention? Could it be, because the man wasn’t a good listener Or the woman don’t know when to keep quite. Don’t you wonder why all the fairy tales would end by saying, “and they live happily ever after”? If there is part two of those stories, it would be Cinderella finding her husband checking out other women and sending him to the couch for the night or snow white would caught her husband cheating and struggle whether to forgive or to leave. And there is the story of Abraham and Sarah who are considered by many, the idol of happy marriage; how strange! In the bible Abraham would find another woman named agar and would have a baby from her because the beautiful Sarah can’t. If love is unconditional shouldn’t husband and wife stay together no matter what?
To love someone unconditionally means not to love someone because of certain factors that he/she have or does. It is loving someone holistically. But if most of us are asked why we love our partner, the answer that comes most of the times is: it’s because she is beautiful, smart, caring and really cares about my feeling etc. Many philosophers argue that there is no reason to love someone and others will strongly argue that there is always reason to love someone. The example that comes most often as a symbol of unconditional love is, the love of a mother to her child. A mother would give all the love for her newborn no matter his physical appearance. The child gets love for just being himself and the mother gives without expecting a return. When you reason with this example, you start to believe unconditional love is not a fiction. However, just like a mother to a child, can two people who have no lineage of blood love unconditionally.
The famous singer Tracy Chapman has a song about this; she says: it’s conditional not for free; there are strings attached…i want something back if you agree to be in love with me. She gets more convincing as you follow the song. There is always something that someone needs from his lover and without them the love perishes. Couples need to give attention to each other’s feeling, needs to be there for each other at all times; needs to appreciate and give confidence to each other. Looking at the reasons why couples break up, you hear different answers: I am not being appreciated and acknowledged for what I do, she is always demanding, I am not feeling the vibe.
How about the married couples, at the bloom of their honeymoon they are the “I will die for you” Romeo and Juliet, but with time the spirit is gone. The husband blames the woman for not making effort and the woman for not appreciating it. Compliments replaced by criticism, efforts to impress would perish: things he used to do just to see her smile, admiration, approval, giving confidence, giving positive regards and remarks, would go with the wind. Likewise the things the wife used to do to stay attractive, all of the fixing your hair and looking neat, wouldn’t matter now. so love must be conditional because there has to be the effort. It feels like it’s a job where you have to keep your body in shape, otherwise you’re fired. Those gestures of love: gifts, surprises, saying,” You are beautiful” all the time, are not just gestures but necessities. If you love someone you need to be there for him/her in sickness and in health; if this vow doesn’t exist your relationship marks the downfall. Love is really conditional.
Coming to see it in many perspectives you may find certain situations or experiences that will challenge the argument that love is conditional. Someone can really be a rock and a shoulder for the one he loves and it is not effort, it is a natural response; just like a mother to a child. There are many couples who are always one call away and who never look for credit for what they do for someone they love. The conditionals of love are achieved unconditionally. The necessities for a love to flower are still there and they are done so naturally that they seem effortless. In this sense love can be considered unconditional. Human beings are many times blamed as selfish beings; however it is healthy to remind ourselves that human beings can really be giving and sacrificing.
It is still debatable if any human being can give anything without expecting something in return. But when someone is in love he may do all those good things for her lover like she is doing it for herself; because he is part of her and nothing can separate them. However, this unconditional positive regard needs to stay forever and should not be shaken by any circumstances or turn of events. It doesn’t mean that couples should not have a fight or encounter a single feeling of hatred between them, for a relationship to persist; but at the end those temporary emotional turmoil should not overshadow the love that they have for each other. So coming to this point, the unconditional positive regard that couples have for each other needs to stay and stay forever. In this sense we are back to admitting that love is conditional. I leave the rest contemplation to the reader; after all ideas are entertaining.