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CPTSD and Others => Our Relationships with Others => General Discussion => Topic started by: plantsandworms on September 07, 2018, 02:43:26 AM

Title: Is Unconditional Love Even Real?
Post by: plantsandworms on September 07, 2018, 02:43:26 AM
I must be at the denial stage of my grieving process over the neglect/abuse I experienced growing up with my FOO, because all of a sudden I can't stop wondering: is unconditional love even real? Am I really missing something that other people have or are we all just walking around feeling like we're missing this thing that doesn't actually exist? If it is real, is it really true that the only way to get that unconditional love in adulthood is from yourself? Can you even give it to yourself, is that enough?
Title: Re: Is Unconditional Love Even Real?
Post by: Three Roses on September 07, 2018, 03:46:25 PM
What a great question! I believe in unconditional love and in fact I believe that anything else isn't really love.

The opposite of unconditional is conditional, so if your "love" is based on certain conditions being met, is it love at all?

We absolutely need certain things from others - respect, intimacy, openness, a sense of safety. But if I base my "love" for someone on deriving things from them, that is conditional love. For example, if I require material wealth or 100% of their time, or if I require them to not do something like see their friends or family; or if I demand that they adhere to my beliefs instead of their own; or if I demand that they like the things I like and not the things they like; these are examples of conditional live. Love then becomes a contract based on their behavior and not on the feeling I have for them.

I love my dog, unconditionally. I love my children unconditionally, and there is nothing they can do or say, or not do or say, that could make me stop loving them. This doesn't mean I have to like all the things they say or do; it just means that when that happens, the underlying love I feel is unchanged.

I love my husband unconditionally. But in order to stay with him I need certain conditions to be met - I need to be safe, I need to be treated with respect, etc. While I would leave if these needs of mine were to be dismissed, I would not stop loving him, although eventually I think the love would not be able to survive being mistreated.

I love this question you've asked and I'm looking forward to reading others' responses.
Title: Re: Is Unconditional Love Even Real?
Post by: woodsgnome on September 08, 2018, 03:11:45 AM
I feel like I'm in lonely territory whenever I hear the love word, let alone try and determine the standards for defining conditional/unconditional love. Until recently, even the singular word love was enough to make me shiver and feel uncomfortable. I'm sure many here can relate without my spelling it out, but basically where I grew up the word existed but there were no honest living examples around me; the adults were all rank hypocrites in many respects, and love was one of their avoidant specialties. I had no idea what was meant by it, and became utterly afraid of hearing the word due to the fearful associations based on what I saw and experienced.

In practice the FOO never uttered the actual word once, while for sure never displaying what I'd call love. Some duty was there--they fed and clothed me--but nothing beyond what they had to do to save face. My religious school abusers were worse, in that they actually used the word but in practice it was cruelly stained by their unsavory actions. So I'm in trouble trying to decipher anything about any form of love, but I've tried to 'catch up' anyway--something inside tells me it does exist in some form; I just never traveled in an honest enough environment to know what it was about. The media depictions mostly focused on various romantic twists and such, interesting but still confusing; more fantasy than reality.

Plants and worms did wonder if it "has to come from inside?" To me it seems that yes, the inside realization about love were my only clues in trying to figure out what love consisted of. I've decided it's real but also very easily used as a code word to cover abuse of many types. When it's wrapped in religion it makes for a personal danger point, for instance, but it does seem 'spiritual' if one can get past those blocks.

Sorry if I've dived into a bit of a rant, but I'll just close by noting there are several authors who've helped me see the promise of finding this inner unconditional love. One of the best at making any sense of love is the Vietnamese refugee Thich Nhat Hanh. Despite experiencing extreme persecution in his native country (he migrated to France where he currently lives), he's written several books focusing on love. He's identified as buddhist, but many of his writings are purely secular and are centered on love and peace as an everyday value and practice all humans deserve. There's many other writers these days, but his notions of love are inspiring and well presented--they make love seem very real. Still very hidden at times, but worth finding.
Title: Re: Is Unconditional Love Even Real?
Post by: Boy22 on September 16, 2018, 08:19:27 AM
I comfess to not reading the posts before me.

I came from a not perfect FOO, but certainly a more functional FOO than my other half - and that was what drew him to me.

We have been together 25 years, and got married a few months ago on the 25th anniversary of our first date. We have been through an awful lot and his love for me is stronger now than it ever was. And that fact is what allowed me to have my meltdown and let out the terrified and raging little boy that has yet to be loved.

But I am still loved, and that wonderfulness allows me to progress in my therapy.

And he too recognises that therapy will be good for him.

Two broken people loving and caring for each other. Far better than the pretence of romance that the regular press and magazines are full of.
Title: Re: Is Unconditional Love Even Real?
Post by: Three Roses on September 16, 2018, 02:44:06 PM
Two broken people loving and caring for each other. Far better than the pretence of romance that the regular press and magazines are full of.

 :applause: :applause: :applause: :thumbup: