It seems like a good day to talk about family. Everyone has family struggles in their life. Bad parents. Bad children. Bad siblings. None of the above…the absence of family is still a family struggle, right? But we often don’t talk about how important family is to the general scheme of our lives. Which is perhaps because we take them more for granted than we should. I certainly do.

Then again, family can really be a difficult thing to understand. People love to throw around the term “unconditional love,” which I don’t really understand. I mean, I love my family—both my immediate family and the vast majority of my extended family. But I don’t think I could call love unconditional. I mean, people often say “I love you unconditionally” to their spouse, but if they caught that spouse out with three hookers for a week long cocaine binge, they probably wouldn’t find it in their heart to continue loving them. Maybe. But probably not.

Likewise, family has a similar conundrum, right? We all have that one sibling that gets on our nerves (if we have siblings), but that doesn’t mean we have to cast them out, right? But at what point is the breaking point?

Let’s say they turn their back on everything their family stands for. Like a man from a Jewish family renouncing his faith and joining the Neo-Nazi party. Is that far enough? If love were unconditional, no. How about being betrayed by someone because that person was so desperate in their life, they decided it was worth punishing their family as some sort of…extended blame for their own problems? How about then?

What if a family member goes insane and starts murdering people without justification or anything? As loosely defined as it is, these technically fall under “conditional love.” Not murdering people seems like a pretty reasonable condition to me. But like…not loving someone because they didn’t share their milkshake with you would not be quite so reasonable.

Which leaves me curious about why we choose to use words like “unconditional love” when discussing our relationship to our family. I mean, it might have to do with the hyperbolic nature of human kind, and that’s perfectly plausible…but it is not that entertaining. I think it might have to do with the fickleness of love in the first place. Love, like all emotions, is not entirely sustainable. It ebbs and flows. Think about it. If every minute of every day you were desperately in love with someone, you’d probably kill yourself. Just like if you were constantly enraged with everyone. Or, if not, you might grow bored of them. Pizza is great, but eating the same pizza every day can grow a bit stale. Maybe it takes a week, maybe it takes a month. Maybe it even takes twenty years.

But we don’t eat pizza every day. We have other things. And like with food, we experience other emotions. And those other emotions impact the ones we currently feel. One might say they love you unconditionally, and mean it at that moment. But over time, that love fades and becomes conditional, simply because that’s how emotions work, no? Does that make sense? Let me know what you think in the comments.



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3 thoughts on “CONDITIONAL LOVE

  1. I agree it is complicated, but it is also simple. I naturally have loved unconditionally, I simplify and am empathetic toward others, but there is a limit I have recently learned.. I always loved unconditionally but it does open one up to be vulnerable when that level of commitment is not shared or the idea of what love is somehow is different from my own. I’ve been betrayed in my life, been too forgiving and it has left me doubting my own beliefs about unconditional love and never before did I ever let a thought revolve around someone needing to be deserving of it.
    For my daughter, yes and always forever more.. my siblings, and father, yes.. that’s just how we are as a result of going through so much as a family, the unconditional factor binds us and makes us stronger.. But guarded I will always be from now on in regards to partners, for I let how he treated me slide for so long that the scars of our breakup have bought light to the fact I was not loving myself unconditionally. Complicated, layered, an entire experience in itself is needed to grow a love so strong that it blossoms into something unbreakable, unconditional.
    I wont ever again assume that someone is deserving because the risk, and life being so short, is far too great and threatens the bonds that are already there, as well as the love we need to maintain for ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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