I just watched a short video in which a (very wise) rabbi was talking about why unconditional love is problematic. And I agree with him.
My earliest memory of hearing about "unconditional love" dates to several years back. I was visiting a forum dealing with spirituality. I came across this term in the section called "twin flames" (like soul mates, but apparently the bond is stronger - I just call it "special snowflake"). In a nutshell (and generalizing), the users (mostly women) posting here were obsessed with a specific man who entered their lives at some point in the past. In most cases, the man either had no idea or was simply not interested in the woman.
If a man came and posted a similar story, well his story seemed to receive less attention or he received a lot of criticism. Also, almost everyone was labeling him a creep. the women posting a similar story? no! they were considered normal, received a lot of support and encouragement. Double standards to the maximum!
What I never understood is what exactly they understand or mean by "unconditional love." After hearing the rabbi talking, I finally understood almost everything. I'll post the video first, and then I'll go a little deeper into my reasons of thinking why "unconditional love" (as a term) has problems and so on.
As you can see, according to the rabbi, telling someone "i love you unconditionally (no matter what you do)" disregards the person, their personality. You also force your emotions or feelings onto them, and if they don't feel the same ... you appear as a creep, selfish (you decided how you're going to feel, and nothing can change your mind)..
Now, I've been thinking about it. I can't see how people CAN think that they "love unconditionally". There's always a condition the person or the item MUST meet in order for you to feel anything towards them/it. And I'll give you a few examples next. Unconditionally comes from the word condition, which in many cases is a cause for something.
You hear many women saying they want to become mothers. If you suggest they adopt, they'll flat out refuse no matter the arguments you bring. Their main reason to refuse is that "they can't see themselves loving the baby/child the same way they would on who grew in their bellies, who shares their blood." It's clear that many mothers love their children BECAUSE they gave birth to them. Giving birth is the condition a child must meet, to receive their mother's love.
You can say there are many women who love their adopted baby/child. Not going to deny that. In this scenario, she loves him because she generally loves children and REALLY wanted one. She might also find the baby really cute, and I have yet to find a person who DOESN'T like/love cute people or items. Getting used to living with or caring for some alive creature can also lead to loving them.
You'll also hear people saying "I love (ITEM) so much because it...". BECAUSE! And yes, they said they love an item. This simply means they're really happy to own the item, BECAUSE -it makes their life easier; or it's of a really good quality, and they won't have to buy another identical (similar) one any time soon, or because it's a status symbol (shallow reason, but still a reason).
Now, I should mention that "love" is a pretty strong word and feeling. This is why in some Asian countries, you'll be hard pressed to hear anyone saying "I love you" or "I love this (thing)." They'll say instead "I really like you" or "I like you a lot." You'll often hear these people saying that "love" is a word they'd say to their significant other, on the death bed.
Looking at a situation in this light, I don't think anyone would say on their death bed "I love this (ITEM)" but they'll say they love their children, partners, friends maybe. in this light, you can safely assume these Asian people would actually say "I really like this ITEM" and never "I love the item." This is something WE (Westerners) should also do, if our languages allow it. I am doing it. I started using less "I love/I hate....." a couple of years back. I still feel like saying these words, so I'm not perfect.
I also think that some folks might sacrifice their lives (life?) to save that of another human. Sometimes the other human can be a total stranger -it happened, after all. I don't think anyone would sacrifice their life to save an item from destruction, even if it was the item they said they loved. I find this beyond absurd. Items can be replaced after all, even if the new one won't compare to the original.
Now, I hope that you can see there are different levels of "love," at least is English. Some other languages have different words to point to the intensity of the feeling.
So, what do people mean when they say "unconditional love"?
I also hope that you managed to see there's always a reason a person or an item receives our attention or affection. So, "unconditional love" doesn't exist. What does exist instead, is "love without expectations".
You can easily say "I love you. I know we can't be together, so I have no expectations from you." This will put some pressure on the other person, or make them feel uncomfortable, however, they have some choice in how they'll act from now on. In the first option, they have none, they'd feel like a prisoner.
You can see how this 'love without expectations' can be directed towards children and pets too. And I believe it's pretty obvious that when a person says "they love the item," they actually EXPECT it to perform the same for a very long time. This 'term' (if I can call it that) cannot be used in relation to items.
Just a side thought from A. A says that they felt unconditional love in the past. They said it's VERY rare for humans to feel this type of emotion, because it's nearly impossible, as I tried to show you above. A does believe it can exist, however I personally don't think i ever felt it. I will not deny A's experience.
© Charly Cross 2013 - present. All rights reserved.