When we discuss “unconditional love”, we are referring to a state of mind that has been created positively but truly has the potential for detriment. Unconditional love has a predisposition to cross into unhealthy connection or dependency. Really, unconditional love is claiming blindness is a virtue. For instance, if a person commits a crime, small or large, their partner who claims unconditional love also claims their love disregards the infraction. Essentially, unconditional love frequently becomes an excuse for prolonging unhealthy or instable relationships. “But I promised to love him unconditionally” is a detrimental answer to a partner’s actions – whether foreseen or unforeseen. This is a crutch we must shun.
The word “unconditioned”, for me, is the positive and healthy version of “unconditional” when referring to love. Unconditioned love refers less to a particular bond and more to an individual’s perception. It encourages us to embrace relationships independently and individually. Unconditioned love offers us the purest form. It is love without guarantees, without conditions, without promises, without predictable outcomes. It is, simply, love. We love to love rather than love to get.
I have recently become acutely aware of the difference between sharing emotions to create intimacy beyond measure and sharing emotions with the expectation of a specific reaction or outcome. The latter can happen consciously and subconsciously. Regardless, it’s manipulation. On some level, we’ve imagined how our outward emotions will be received, secretly knowing that our best case scenario will never happen. Honestly, I doubt most of us know that we’ve done it and continue to do it. What we need to learn is that we’re being unfair to our partners and ourselves. We’re posing ourselves for quick disappointment. Why?
Because we are creatures of habit and our number one habit in relationships is to protect our hearts. We hide or attack when we’re hurt. We fail to deliberate lucidly in these moments. We’re simply products of our childhood, conditioned by our early perceptions, and molded by our interactions. So, despite our constant struggle we continue with the same methods because we’ve never seen our environment from the outside. We’re imprisoned. We need to step back and see from afar the tight cell we live in.
Once we realize we’re trapped in an endless cycle, we’ll also see that we are the ones perpetuating the loop. Our immediate defenses against hurt and pain – to hide, to run away, to attack – only create thicker walls for our cell. We use them to protect us. But acting out of fear we also perpetuate the walls between us and others. Our loneliness persists. And our emotions remain hard locked into hurting us. We need to unchain, unlock, and release ourselves. How?
Let go of fear.
If our natural inclination is to shut down, we are afraid of reception, rejection, and misunderstanding. We must remain open. For those who attack with anger, they are afraid of being weak and taken advantage of. To break free they must relax and show empathy, compassion. Not until we break through these barriers, which we have built for false protection, can we learn to surrender to love. And with that comes what we all search for.
Sharing and being vulnerable with someone we trust, breaking down barriers we’ve built, beginning to exist and discover ourselves outside our habitual reactions and everyday motions gives us freedom within our love. Love without fear, without anxiety.
I have personally found that the quickest way to freedom – freedom from our external and internal prisons – is to let go of all assumptions and expectations. Such predictions are our attempts to control the world around us and they are setting us up for pain.
We must learn to find only discomfort within the struggle to control.
If we depend on the externality of life we will not obtain what we want. We are constantly acting and reacting and wanting others to coincide in hopes of getting. But what do we want? What is it that we hope to get?
Whether we call it wholeness or happiness, it lies not in the outcome of events but within ourselves. Another person cannot give it to us. All that we need exists internal to our being.
I recently enacted the above tenants from “Undefended Love” while with my partner. I believe I made small but significant steps in the right direction. I no longer express myself with expected outcomes. I simply want to be open and share with him, to no longer fear judgment or shame or disgust when it comes to my thoughts or emotions. I desire to be free in who I am regardless of my partner’s reactions. So they are no longer a predestined goal. They may still surprise me or upset me, but I accept them just as I accept my own emotions as they are. My emotions serve not to control him or me, but to bring us closer without barriers. I express them to process, to analyze, and to ultimately be free of them. I do not expect to receive anything in the moment of expression, but rather want to give, to share, to offer openness.
With a poly family, I’m beginning to see, comes greater emotional risk. If we’re not all open to communication and want to conquer our fears, the whole family suffers. The circle of love is as strong as the weakest bind. One hurts, we all hurt. We all support one another and desire for the entire family to be happy and healthy in love. And it’s this dynamic that requires strong, introspective, and evolving partners. For within such a family everything evolves – constantly and consistently. Change is scary but must be accepted and embraced, not avoided. We must all remember that with change comes opportunity to enhance, grow, and live afresh.
This is essential to living in the moment, not imprisoned by the past or controlled by the future. Spontaneity allows us to be a momentary person, free from time, expectations, and habit. We are free from our personas, what the public eye records. More significantly, we are free from our emotions that keep us locked in the same prison cell, unable to grow, learn, evolve. The past is dead, the future unknown. If we embrace them this way, we live more vibrantly and find intimate joy in the smallest moment.
I realize this personally when I’m with my partner, because I am naturally the best version of me. I’m free, flexible, nonjudgmental, patient, kind, outgoing, and most significantly I have no preference or expectation. All of these personal limitations and emotional barriers leave me as I’m surrounded by his love, understanding, and acceptance. I fear nothing as I know none of it will make as big of waves as to alter his mental and emotional embrace around me. Since we are open-minded and openhearted with one another, nothing can unravel our intertwined souls.
Love unconditioned not only means love without expectations it also means without preconditioned notions. We must let go of our habitual way to love and love within each partnership individually, separately. Each partnership is unique and must be viewed as such. We must let go of the ideal we’ve created, let go of that expectation, in order to cultivate free love in each instance.
And so, I have made my first steps. I no longer have the need to get, only to give. Such is a freedom that only unconditioned love can offer.