Like the old song says, it’s for everyone. But somehow not everyone has it. Not only are there people longing for a real partnership—who cannot seem to attain it–but the world just does not operate out of love.
We tend to think of love as this soft emotion, that is embarrassingly sweet and just a little too much for public consumption. We tend to think that love is not necessary in the real world—that world where business transactions occur many moments a day without a single thought of love. We tend to think that, while many of us long for it, it has its place—and not a very big place after all when it comes to how to succeed in life, how to run a life, how to deal with life.
But a more accurate assessment would mean that we would come to see that love is the platform on which a child stands to launch a healthy life. We would come to see that business transactions that include a healthy respect for all persons, that include an empathetic understanding of the needs of all parties would change the world. We would come to see that wars and murders are built on the lack of love, that people who have not received a healthy dose of real love in their formative years, are the walking wounded who either need real help and healing, or they are wounding others, or both.
Since the ancient Greek days we have thought and taught that there are different kinds of love—but I would disagree. I think there are different kinds of relationships, but not different kinds of love. No, there is only one kind of love: unconditional love. Anything else, well it’s just not really love.
We often call control love. We could be saying I control you so much, instead of I love you so much. Nope. Control demands that the other comply with my wishes at all times, or s/he doesn’t really love me. Abuse often comes from this belief. There’s nothing unconditional about that.
We often call toleration love. We might believe that if I forgive you over and over again that means I love you—but actually it probably means that I don’t love myself.
We often call jealously love. If I can make him jealous that means he really loves me. Nope. Jealousy is made of fear—and often fear that someone else is better than me. Not unconditional love.
We often call approval love. Parents who kick LGBTQ+ children or adolescents out of their homes because they do not approve, would say that they love their children but cannot tolerate such sinful ways. But this is not love; it does not say to the child I want you to be your authentic self. Rather it says, I need you to look a certain way for me. This is not love, for it is not unconditional.
Unconditional love means that you get to be totally 100% you—and I not only want that for you, but I encourage that in you. It means I enjoy your company just as you are. It means I want for your happiness but I leave it to you as to how you will attain that. Unconditional love allows you to grow and change without my insisting that you stay the same for me. Unconditional means there are no conditions in which I will not love you. There may be conditions in which I will not be able to stay with you—conditions such as abuse or mistreatment—but then I will probably still care about your wellbeing, although from a distance.
People often say, “Well I know she loves me, but she’s just got this awful temper!” What they mean is that they are fairly often being mistreated by the significant other, but they want to believe that they are loved. My question is, “How do you know she loves you?” If it doesn’t look like love—it’s not love. I recommend that we stop fooling ourselves and get down to the real story. Being mistreated or abused is not love. It’s another—often violent—form of control.
Once we really figure out what love is, we can start applying it everywhere, in everything, from relationships to politics. And once we do that, we will have changed the world—from one of apathy and lack of empathy to one in which real decisions are made daily to uplift and support every single person.
You may also find this blog on Psychology Today, on the blog entitled “Traversing the Inner Terrain,” at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/traversing-the-inner-terrain