To decide to love someone unconditionally can be an easy choice to make, and it can be an impossibly hard commitment to keep. It’s easy when the other person
is your sweet young child, or your cuddly pet. It’s hard when you cannot agree with many of the things the other person says or does. This is particularly true when the other person repeatedly violates your personal boundaries.
Unconditional love does not mean you give up your self-respect, your integrity, or your values. On the contrary, unconditional love thrives when it supports your boundaries. Loving unconditionally is not the same as living with a person or interacting with him daily, or tolerating everything he does.
Putting Conditions on Unconditional Love
Unconditional love may include conditions about actions. You can love without condition and yet choose to interact only when certain actions occur.
Please note that there is a difference between choosing to love someone and choosing how you act with that person or how you allow that person to act with you. Love becomes a tool of manipulation when you withhold your love to force the other person to take certain actions or make particular decisions that you dictate.
You can choose to love someone unconditionally, and at the same time, choose to interact only under certain circumstances, even if you doubt the other person will ever be willing or able to treat you the way you deserve. You can choose to love a person no matter what, and yet choose to keep your distance while the other person’s actions are deceptive, abusive or disrespectful.
When Unconditional Love is a Hard Choice
It can be hard, but it is not impossible, to love someone unconditionally despite his chronic lies, irresponsible behaviors or constant disappointments.
Of course the hardest choice you may ever have to make is whether to continue to love a person unconditionally and yet end the relationship. You may have to face this choice because your spouse is abusive, unfaithful, or addicted to gambling or sex. Or, your child is addicted to alcohol or drugs, or engages in illegal activities.
What makes it possible to continue to act with love is that you stick with your personal boundaries – your rules on how others may treat you and what you do when they treat you in other ways. Your relationships with others can never be better than the relationship you have with yourself. When you stick with your boundaries, you are able to enjoy rich and fulfilling relationships with others, and with yourself.
Live Honest, Open and True
Unconditional love does not mean you must unconditionally accept others’ irrational, harmful or deceptive behavior. You can choose to love someone and also choose to love yourself by putting time and space between you. When you love yourself enough to set a boundary for what you will and will not accept, you give the other person the opportunity to take responsibility for his behavior and to make necessary changes. If someone in your life expects unconditional love and yet refuses to be accountable or respectful to you, choose to be accountable and respectful to yourself by putting time and space between you.
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Have you had to choose between keeping someone in your life who does not respect you but you’re supposed to love, and protecting yourself by putting distance between you? Stop by our Life is HOT blog Facebook Group and leave a comment or tweet me @LifeIsHOTBlog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!