Unconditional Love…..Hah!

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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Unconditional love … Hah!

I believe the term came from Christianity, ascribing unconditional love from Jesus towards us mortals. Since then the term has been used and abused.

Women scream in therapy about wanting to be loved unconditionally by their partners, despite being bitchy and critical, and husbands’ concept of unconditional love by their wives is to never go without sex…

There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to write comprehensively about unconditional love – this prevailing fallacy of the last thirty years or so – so I’ll limit my comments to mothers and daughters.

Mothers express eternal love towards their daughters, while proving once again that talk is cheap … so, let’s  just start with two recollections:

One: A friend, years ago, leading with seductiveness, sexy attire and all, shared with me that she didn’t want her teenage daughter to join her at the pool of her newfound boyfriend, because the boyfriend would desire her daughter instead. So, she convinced the girl to visit a friend.

Two: A relative; a single mother, beating up her daughter who refused to listen. I had to contain her, because I was afraid she was going to break the child’s bones. Years later, the daughter told her mother she would kill her if she touched her again.  

But we don’t have to go to these extremes. Just some every-day trivialities will suffice:                                                                                          

The mother who tells her daughter that she is disappointed in her because her report card is not good enough.

Angry Mom

The mother who is ashamed that her daughter isn’t in honors class, but tells her friends that her daughter is more interested in sports. (Not true. I know Stacey, and she’s not interested in sports. She’s actually devastated by not making it.)

The mother who complains that her husband is more loving towards their daughter than her; who blames her daughter for getting preferential treatment

The mother who allows her son to get away with murder (after all “boys will be boys”…), but is strict with her daughter who does not complete her chores.

The mother who needs her daughter to take care of her; who shares her own problems – using the child as a sounding board … and she’s the one who prides herself in being like a sister to her daughter…

Next, there are the mothers who shun daughters who become inconveniently pregnant; or shun them because of the daughter’s marriage to someone who’s not from the same race, religion or social status.

Lastly, there are the mothers who tell their daughters that no one would want to marry them because they are so intolerable; and those who push their daughters to marry the first man who seem interested, because they are not pretty enough.

I could go on, but sometimes brevity is a virtue, and I believe you get the point.

So, I’ll simply say that unconditional love is a lofty concept, hence it is much more befitting angels and saints.

For the rest of us, it will be sufficient to remember to simply love as much as we can, warts and all.


About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in Mothers and Daughters, Uncategorized, Unconditional Love and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Unconditional Love…..Hah!

  1. Maurice Labi says:

    When I was in school I learned a little physics. One such class discussed that for every action there’s a reaction. To love without getting love in return violates such principles and belongs in the world of make believe.

  2. Unconditional love does exist, one just does not see it practiced very often. I can love someone unconditionally while not accepting their behavior. I remember telling my child, “I love you, however, I do NOT love your behavior.” I agree that there are few people who practice unconditional love all the time or even most of the time. However, there are those who do attempt to do so. I’d say HH The Dalai Lama is one such person. I don’t claim to have reached that lofty perch, but I do still say, “I love you dearly, however, I do not love your behavior – so knock it off.” Maybe it is a 12 step acceptance thing…for I certainly find more unconditional acceptance and love from those who really work the program than almost any group of people. Just sayin… And the hardest unconditional love of all to get is … self-love.

    • rachel bar says:

      HH The Dalai Lama is indeed an exceptional being, however, let’s not forget that he does not need to struggle with the strain of family, a nagging wife and screaming children… And… he gets to meditate all day, so of course he can be loving 🙂

      Otherwise, I’m in agreement with you.

  3. Barbara Cooper says:

    You want unconditional love??? Get a dog! (Rachel, I bet you knew I’d say that!!!)

  4. Sue Cox says:

    I doubt this New Testament passage below is the origin of the concept of unconditional love, but it certainly describes its aim. The Rumi poem below speaks of this also. And, speaking of “Unconditional Love …Hah!” I’m not sure unconditional love is such a laughable idea. Perhaps it takes a willingness to at least consider the notion that there is a higher way of being, one that transcends the greedy needs and limited awareness of our egos, one that can understand and contain a larger vision and purpose in love. Yes, as far as we humans are concerned, unconditional love may be a lofty ideal, but what could it hurt to try to practice such a thing.

    Corinthians 13:4–8a
    (English Standard Version)
    Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

    Rumi – Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.

    • rachel bar says:

      Rumi’s poem is magical.

      What I tried to say is that we cheapend the use of unconditional love, and made it a “norm”, without looking at ourselves and observing how difficult it is to be in that state. Obviously, if one has a wonderful, loving, bright and cheerful daughter, it’s very easy to profess unconditional love. If, however, you’re an orthodox jew or a devout moslem, and your daughter marries someone of a different faith, you’re supposed to condemn her and often disconnect from her altogether. It takes all kinds.

  5. Linda Joan Lipp, MFT says:

    The ability to love and accept others, not in spite of their faults, but because of them, is perhaps the highest developmental achievement of a human being. In therapy we work toward fuller expression of love and intimacy, the abillity to be flexible and to adapt easily, the ability to handle our own emotional “stuff” by processing our feelings so that they no longer have negative power. If feel that my own therapy helped me greatly to evolve toward being able to feel and give unconditional love. This does not mean that I never feel critical toward those I love, but I do feel pretty much that even my criticisms come from a place of love. I feel warmth, caring, and compassion toward family, friends, the homeless guys in front of 7-11, my clients, the children I see walking to school; really toward everyone. I did not always feel this way — I think that opening my spirit to my own death has liberated a great deal of compassion. Perhaps it takes the reality of impending death to fully let go of niggly piggly crap and liberate our ability to love. Love guides without trying to control, it is without shame or doubt, gives without score-keeping, and, in the end, is the feeling that one carries from this world to the next.

    • rachel bar says:

      I have no doubt that when we face the possibility of our mortality, we have an opportunity to go through a transformation. I recall reading about survivors of the holocaust and realizing that some became more loving, and others more hateful.You Joan, are the one who went through a spirtiual transformation when faced with illness and death. We need more people like you!

  6. Surely love is, by it’s very nature, unconditional! I believe that any ‘love’ that is dependent on how the person we claim to love behaves, looks or responds is not love at all.

    Strangely, we cannot expect to receive ‘unconditional love’ if we actually love unconditionally!

  7. Maybe It’s me…..But I don’t believe in unconditional love….for I feel we all (mortal and immortal) love with a condition that we may or may not want to admit too…cross man and your not rewarded..cross your God and your not rewarded…by requiring a requirement..you have placed a condition for your love

    • rachel bar says:

      I don’t believe that most of us are capable of unconditional love, and yet I would like to believe that a few of us can. Call me a fool or naive, but I believe that some of us, albeit very few, can.

      • I also believe that unconditional love is something we learn through practice. It involves learning that we are not the center of the universe and learning that expectations are a setup for resentment. It isn’t something the average person seems to get a handle on, IMO. Then again, some do. I always felt unconditional acceptance and love from my Mother and she was a huge influence in my life. If I am half the woman she was I’ll consider my life effort a success.

  8. Pingback: condemning condemnation « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

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