When I was younger, my dating life was geared toward finding unconditional love. I was convinced that the more love I unconditionally gave, the better my chances were of finally having it in a romantic relationship and getting to experience the return on investment that Happily Ever After is portrayed to be.

It didn’t work out that way.

I ended up becoming a backbone-less doormat. Loving this way had come at the cost self-respect.

Today, unconditional love is something that I fully believe in. It’s also something that I don’t believe in at all.

As a kid, I struggled with love in general. The people who genuinely and unconditionally loved me, I took for granted. And those that put conditions around their love for me at an age where conditions were more damaging than emotionally educational… I did everything I could to please and appease. This pedestaled them and left my 5-year-old self alone at the bottom, without a ladder.

In my little mind, unconditionally loving them, obeying the rules, and staying in line seemed to be the only ladder available. While their intentions were good and they did love me, these adults subconsciously engaged in a codependent relationship with me, the child. I was dependent on extracting a drop of their love, validation, and approval from the empty well that their conditions had run dry. I believe that they were dependent on the image that my obedience painted of them to others, as well as on my unconditional love, to invalidate their own perceived unlovable inadequacies from when they were young.

As I got older, this “unconditional love ladder” that never seemed to be tall enough, found it’s way into my romantic relationships and friendships.

That was the beginning of the end.

Instead of all the unconditional love I gave boomeranging back to me, it created life-robbing shame and loneliness that paralyzed me in the quicksand of relationsh*ts and friendsh*ts – one after the other.

Unconditional love also made me stay in familial relationships and other relationships just because there was blood relation, history, or some other kind of connection that’s only sacred if it is held up by mutuality – not unconditional love as a testament to loyalty.

I am writing this post as I write all of my posts – Not as an end-all-be-all, but to shed my own personal light on things that may have otherwise not been illuminated to help you out of pain, bad relational luck, toxic relationships, ambiguity, and insecurity that I know all too well. There is an exception to everything and a different way than anything can be interpreted. I went back and forth for a long time on whether to write about unconditional love. It’s one of those topics that can be very sensitive to discuss because everyone’s beliefs regarding it are tied to their own past experiences and pain. After thinking about it more, I knew I had to write about it.

Why?

Unconditional love is something that nearly robbed me of a life. It’s also something that saved my life.

Here’s what you need to know…

Unconditional love is known as “affection without any limitations, or love without conditions.” It’s described as a love that is unchanging and knows no bounds. Unconditional love is often used to describe “love between family members, comrades in arms, and between others in very committed, connected and soulmate-status relationships.”

Movies, fairytales, and mainstream media like to depict those that love unconditionally as heroes in this world. No matter how poorly these people are treated, how much they are taken for granted, or how terribly they have been wronged… These people love so deeply that the light of their unconditional love seems to out-mature and out-shine the need for healthy boundaries that only unconditional self-love can initiate.

I used to want to find my soulmate who would love me unconditionally. The thought of this no longer turns me on. In fact, it turns me off – WAY off. It’s red-flag alarming to me now. 

I now define unconditional love as acceptance. Acceptance of how everyone and everything is – right now, at this moment – Whether it’s positive or negative, hurtful or healing, joyous or depressing. I accept what is without tying my value or perceived lack of value to it. It just is and people just are. 

You can’t have true freedom, peace, and LOVE without the acceptance of what is and you’ll never be able to accept what is with conditions imposed on that acceptance.

On the surface, unconditional love seems incredible – and it IS. I believe that unconditional love is necessary in relationships with those who lack a voice and are fully dependent on us. You should unconditionally love your child, your pet/animals and the one little voiceless girl/boy who wouldn’t be reading these words right now if conditions were not put around love that should have been given unconditionally to her/him: Your younger self. 

It is extremely difficult to try to unconditionally love the adults we have become. I still struggle with how I feel about my adult self. But then I look at a childhood photo and I see this helpless, defenseless, undefended, and voiceless little girl who just wants to be enough… How could I not unconditionally love her? 

The moment I stopped outsourcing unconditional love to others and started giving it to myself… This was the moment I learned that unconditionally loving in romantic relationships would only be accepted/exploited by those that had the same inability as I had to unconditionally love themselves. This ends up becoming a misbalance in power.

When it comes to romantic relationships, we are in many ways wired to want unconditional love. We look to be emotionally re-parented in a way that will invalidate the worthlessness that the absence of it in our childhood has consciously and subconsciously made us feel.

In my relationships today, whether it’s my romantic relationship or with my close friends…

Although there isn’t unconditional love, we love and accept each other as a whole. It’s nonjudgemental love. It’s love that can be felt and shared on such a deeper and more meaningful, intimate, and empathetic level because it’s protected on both ends by healthy boundaries that are honored by the other person. I’m not talking about going through hard times – that’s called thick and thin – There’s a difference. This is two people who agree to accept, love, value, be honest with, and honor each other – while holding up their ends of the relational bargain – In sickness and health, broke and riches, and through the good times and the bad.

Loving without conditions and boundaries in romantic relationships made me feel terrible. It translated as: “I am not enough. I don’t deserve more. Please validate me while invalidating the pain of a past you don’t care about getting to know. Please see in me what I cannot see in myself. Please allow me to emotionally jerk off by diluting myself with the belief that my unconditional love will shed you of your toxicity.”

I eventually decided to let go of unconditional love. I set healthy boundaries that protected and empowered my younger self.

Because of that, I started attracting relationships that made me feel safe to be me, supported, and open to accepting love instead of always giving it without boundaries and ending up the doormat once again. The more you honor your boundaries, the more true love you’ll attract.

True love will never be found without unconditionally loving yourself enough to accept what is, having the courage to act on that acceptance, and the ability to judge people only by their patterns – not their isolated actions and words.

This can apply to family, friends, and lovers – And it should be applied without guilt – That’s what your boundaries are for.

Although I don’t believe in unconditional love when it comes to romantic relationships, I am always aware that without fully giving it to my younger self, I’ll never be able to experience the true, nonjudgemental, thick-and-thin love that I DESERVE – to both emanate and receive.

x Natasha

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19 comments

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Mood for 2019: Loving myself Unconditionally, implementing boundaries without guilt✔️

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😍✔️✔️✔️ YES! love it!!

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Thank you 💜 just thank you. Although it will never be enough it is all that I can say right now. You have saved my life.

I can’t wait for your book Natasha.

Elena

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I am so happy and honored to have helped/help in any way. You are never alone.

All my love to you Elena <3 Thank you for being a part of this tribe. XO

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One of my goals for 2019 – boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.. Take care of me and my needs. No one else is going to.

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YES YES YES!!! I’m so glad that this post served you 🙂 Thanks Michelle! xo

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Absolutely 100% spot-on Natasha. Thank you for pointing out the subtleties of this delusion.

What is really desirable in a partner is unconditional self-love. Those people understand boundaries and self-respect.

In my experience it is a red flag when you find yourself on the receiving end of a critique of your own behavior by a romantic partner who invokes their need for unconditional love and mentions that you’re not providing it. At best, that is an unconscious bid for control; more likely it is code for “I want to be able to back up a dump truck of my bullshit and bury you in it at any time.” Or said differently – when people say they require unconditional love, what they’re really saying is that they want a person with no boundaries. Caveat emptor.

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Brandon,

Yes, I totally agree 🙂 true unconditional self-love is the most attractive quality because it is a precursor to healthy boundaries, self-respect, character, and integrity.

That is such a red flag. I have been on both the receiving and giving end of this. In each instance, I lacked self-love.

You and your comments mean so much to me and so much to this community. They take my work to another level.

Love you Brandon.

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Dearest Natasha, what a beautiful writer you are. You’ve given us found such a poetic and lyrical and sharply insightful piece on a subject that is often delusionally reduced to “Hello Fantasy World and the Endless Search for Daddy”!!!!!!!!! (Or equivalent). Everything you say rings so true for me anc I love the way you remove the either/or thing! It’s like a delicious invitation into possibility and real heart-opening, whilst creating the conditions for it very honestly and RESPONSIBLY and observing what is with a laser clear mind.

I came to the conclusion once, when surveying the carnage of my romantic patterns, that what I had thought was unconditional love was actually entitlement, abject doormattage and total abdication of self responsibility – on both sides!! Not one of my finer moments but a real springboard for change! And compassion for the wee girl inside as you so beautifully describe.

Here’s to badassness in all its glory and keep your posts coming, I love them! And you. Helen XXXXXXXX💜💜💜💜💜

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Helen!

Your quote in the beginning of your comment had me LOL!! I’m happy that the post was helpful and that I decided to go ahead and write about it. I have been debating it for quite some time. You are so appreciated and loved.

YES! – I have been there and came to the same realization as well.

I love you too, soul sister. XOXOXO

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You could have been writing about me!! Thank you – it really helps to know that this happens to others as well X

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Jane,

Thank you for taking the time to share. I am in tears as I write this reply back to you. I think the greatest gift you can ever give anyone is letting them know that they aren’t alone. To know I have given this to you is more than enough, but then to get affirmed like this on my end… I am feeling so grateful.

Love you Jane. Thank you for existing. xoxo

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Yes, totally agree w Helen!! THANK YOU, thank you so much Natasha your writing is the most inspirational, freeing and empowering out there whilst being fearless of the truth to help those who have trouble putting these things into words. So thankful for your gift and purpose!! You!! Xoxoxo

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Hi Shenae!

Thank YOU <3 <3 I am just as thankful for you - your love, support, connection and for being a sister to me and part of this tribe 🙂 XOXO

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Hello Natasha. This is so educational for me. I have been wonderful about this very topic. Thank you for providing clarity.
I have often felt that the “unconditional love” that people speak of is only in the movies. We have to have boundaries and have respect for ourselves. I think it is not an easy thing to achieve. It takes time and patience with ourselves.
After reading this, I think that until we have those things in place, we will not be prepared to give love to someone without having these things in place.
Thank you Natasha. I love you so much and all you give. I also love all the comments that I read. This tribe is so intelligent and savvy. It is very intimidating. 😊. I love you and thank you for this. I needed it today.
Be well and I cannot wait for the book but this is FANTASTIC inspiration for me and will continue to be.
Be well, and you are. It alone. 🦄😘🌸💕

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Yes, totally agree w Helen!! THANK YOU, thank you so much Natasha your writing is the most inspirational, freeing and empowering out there whilst being fearless of the truth to help those who have trouble putting these things into words. So thankful for your gift and purpose!! You!! Xoxoxo

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😭🙏🏼♥️👯‍♀️💋💌

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Yes Natasha! I think this is one of your most perceptive and beautifully written articles on PMS and the message contained within it is SO integral to our wellbeing. <3

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That means everything to me <3

I had been going back and forth on whether to write this post and am now so glad that I did 🙂 Thanks Hazel! XOX

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