Is True Love Unconditional?
Is true love something which you feel for a person irrespective of his or her actions, or is it something which is inspired by the choices another person makes? Where do you draw the line between unconditional love and unhealthy blindness?
Jodie from High Point, NC writes:
“I’ve noticed the way I form romantic and other attachments is different from many of the people I know. I fell in love with my boyfriend because of his choices and his actions; I love him because he loves me. If he didn’t, I wouldn’t. Sometimes I get the vibe though that this is considered selfish by my friends, and that I should love my boyfriend on some deeper level. I’ve heard that true love is unconditional, and mine most definitely isn’t. Does that mean I don’t really love my boyfriend? Is true love always unconditional? Is my love somehow lesser because it isn’t?”
Love is a pretty ineffable thing—how does one define it? Scholars, poets, artists, and scientists have all tried throughout history, but one thing we know for sure is that the experience of love is different for different people. This is because everyone is a unique individual with unique needs, preferences, and values. The special makeup of each person will determine much of how they relate to others around them romantically and otherwise.
Unconditional love is defined as love felt for a person regardless of his or her actions—but not love for that person’s actions when those actions are unlovable. Unconditional love presumes the existence of a perfect soul which deserves perfect love. This comes down to personal spiritual beliefs (whether consciously thought out or not). Unconditional love should not be confused with unconditional dedication—you can theoretically love someone unconditionally and not stand by them if their actions are a deterrent. Of course, if you define love in part by actions (like standing by someone), then you can’t.
There’s no “more” or “less” here—ultimately this comes down to personal beliefs, and there is no way to judge personal beliefs. Maybe you believe there’s such a thing as a perfect soul, and maybe you don’t. Maybe you believe that love consists of actions as well as feelings and maybe you don’t. What really matters is whether the person you love is compatible with you, and whether their ideas of love mesh with yours. There is no right or wrong way to be—there are many ways to be. The diversity in the love which human beings express for one another is perhaps part of what makes us individuals who are unique and who can indeed connect deeply to each other.
Your relationship is between you and your boyfriend, and how you relate to each other is your own business, just as your personal beliefs are your own business. You can look to your friends for respect, but not for a definition of love to fit your romantic relationship—and if your friends respect you, they will respect that as well.