Has anyone ever told you that they would love you no matter what? I hate to break it to you, but they were lying. Maybe not intentionally, of course. They might believe nothing you could do would change how they feel about you, but that’s not true. Love is conditional.
Before you go freaking out about people lying to you or getting a complex about love, the conditions of love aren’t supposed to be crazy. Most people tend to fulfill them when they genuinely care about those who love them.
The Basic Conditions of Love
I don’t care what anyone says; there is no love out there that is unconditional. There are at least five different conditions for love that you have to meet to keep love going. They’re not anything crazy; in fact, a lot of the conditions for love are so innocuous it feels like you could love someone no matter what they do.
That’s not true, though. The reasons you love someone are because of who they are and the way that they treat you. If they as a person were to change or the way they treat you were to change, most people would probably fall right out of love.
After all, if you fell in love with a charismatic and kind person who turned into a cruel murderer, you wouldn’t love them anymore. You’d be ashamed and feel guilty forever loving them in the first place.
Respect is a two-way street. Relationships where someone treats them like a one-way street, are not healthy and shouldn’t last. Maybe things used to be different when it was normal and socially acceptable to treat anyone who wasn’t a property-owning white man as an object, but nowadays, it’s hard to keep loving someone who treats you like dirt.
Relationships are meant to be equal. They’re your partner, for crying out loud. They are not your servant, your maid, your butler, or anyone else below you that you can look down on. (not that you should be looking down on anyone in the first place). Most people will grow to resent being treated without respect. The people who don’t resent it sure as heck won’t continue blindly loving you either. At best, they’re going to quietly grow to fear you.
There are a million ways you can show someone you respect them and show them that you value them as your significant other. None of them have to be dramatic, over-the-top things, either. Putting them before yourself, not interrupting them, actively listening to them when they talk, or just asking for their opinion about different topics/ when you have a decision to make are ways you show someone you respect and value them.
Love is conditional on treating your partner like a human being. Showing someone you truly respect them goes a long way to making a relationship last and making them feel like their love is unconditional.
Don’t do immoral things
When I say “immoral,” I mean more like “unethical.” Don’t break the law, hurt other people, etc. Most people get a little freaked out when their loved one beats up little old ladies for no reason, y’know? It’s hard to love someone who hurts others or is constantly doing horrible things.
We all want to believe the people we love are good. That’s not always the case, though; when we realize that, the love we feel for them is quickly soured.
Even for people we don’t know personally, it’s hard to keep admiring them if we think they’ve done something bad. It’s in our nature to reject the idea that someone we love has purposefully done something horrible. When we finally believe it, though, and truly believe that they’ve done something evil, we want them to make up for it somehow too.
If a loved one who has done something bad refuses to take accountability for it, it’s even harder to continue loving them. At least if they try to make up for what they did, we can hope they’ve truly changed and won’t do anything like it in the future. If that’s not the case and they continue hurting others with their actions, then it’s hard to keep loving them.
In some situations, we force ourselves to keep loving them out of fear, but deep down, we know we don’t actually love them anymore.
That doesn’t mean we don’t still care for people who do bad things, but I don’t think we love them anymore. Love is conditional on being a good person. Or, at the very least, on the possibility of being a good person.
For most people, a relationship can’t withstand someone cheating. I don’t think I really need to explain why. It’s a huge violation of trust, and it’s hard to love someone who has betrayed you and broken your trust.
One study suggests that only 15% of couples can make it last after someone cheats. Even though closer to 30% try to make it work, they end up breaking things off anyway.
No matter how much you love someone, continuing to love them after someone cheats is next to impossible. Cheating can also cause problems in relationships outside of romantic ones. Friends and family can get involved and take sides, and it all can get very messy. So it should be a no-brainer that love is conditional on not cheating.
Put effort into the relationship
In books and movies, love is often likened to a flame. It’s burning and passionate etc., and so forth. Like a flame, though, it needs to be tended to. That means putting effort into it and keeping the flame going.
Even if someone says they love you unconditionally, if you never see them or spend time with them, that love will dim. The less you care about it and the less effort you put in, the more likely it is to go out altogether.
Putting effort into a relationship doesn’t mean spending hundreds of dollars on expensive nights out and fancy gifts. It could just mean spending quality time together and doing special things for them because you can.
It’s miserable to love someone and feel they don’t care about you. Even if they say they do, it can be hard to believe if they never do anything to show it. You’ll stop believing them at some point if they can’t even do the smallest thing to show you they care.
Love is conditional on actually showing your partner you care for them. If you don’t, no matter how much they love you now, they will eventually fall out of love with you. You both deserve someone who puts effort into tending that flame.
Don’t hide important things
I’m not saying you have to tell your partner every little thing about your life, nor am I saying you can’t have secrets from them. Being in a relationship does not entitle you to know every skeleton in your partner’s closet.
There are some things, though, that your partner should know. Maybe you have a kid or an ex you’re still hung up on; maybe you have a ton of credit card debt they don’t know about. If it’s something that could affect their relationship with you, then it’s something they should know eventually.
Open up to them when you feel comfortable doing so but don’t actively try to hide or cover it up.
Love is conditional on being open with your partner. Maybe you can get away with hiding things for a while, but secrets tend to come out eventually. When they do, your relationship won’t ever be the same. Especially if they find out you’ve been trying to deceive them for a long time.
Conditions aren’t a bad thing
Love is romanticized, and people rarely talk about the hard work that goes into making relationships last (though we did write a blog about that, too, if you want to check it out). I’m not trying to scare anyone off by saying that love is conditional, but I also think it’s important to consider.
Being swept away in a whirlwind romance is great and all, but it takes more than that to keep a good thing going. If that whirlwind love doesn’t meet the conditions I laid out above, it will eventually fizzle out, leaving someone miserable and struggling to pick up the pieces.
Finding a love that does meet the conditions, though, is truly something special. It means you’ve found a love worth protecting and one that will probably make you a better person too. It means you’ve found a healthy relationship with someone who values you.
Love being conditional isn’t a bad thing. It just means that you’re more likely to find someone worth loving.
What do you think love is conditional on?