Which would you prefer: conditional or unconditional love? Though unconditional love is what you ultimately need, once you grasp what unconditional love is about, you may decide you’re content to keep your conditions after all. Conditional love seems to be what most of us seek most of the time.
How do you kick the conditional love habit? You start by just loving, and let people get in the way . . .
I wish I could say that I love you, but the truth is that I just love and you happened to get in the way.
Now, most people would take offense at this, tell me how impersonal it feels, how if I just love everybody because they happen to be there then my love for any particular person is not special. But you are special before I love you. You are special even if I do not love you. You are unique, and I am unique, and therefore the love we share is unique. If you don’t feel special, it is only because you have learned to define yourself in opposition to others, competitively. You have learned to identify particular qualities in other people, decided that only by matching up to those qualities will you be worthy and important, and then you don’t match up. Maybe those particular qualities are irrelevant to your unique nature and your essence is characterized by other qualities entirely. But you do not recognize your extraordinary and beautiful qualities; instead you have lost in a competition of comparisons. And you have learned to do this and so now you are insecure.
And it feels like love directed from me to you, love which appears to have something to do with your qualities, and based on reasons, and which I only direct at you and not at everyone else – it feels like this love will be enough to actually make you special, enough to transform your mundanity and ordinariness into specialness, as if my love makes you into something. When in fact, in the presence of love masquerading as having something to do with your qualities, you only stop noticing for a short while just how insecure you still feel, and only when for some reason my love for you lapses or is withheld do you notice and remember that you are still as insecure as always, still feel as undeserving and unremarkable and inadequate.
Because what you’re doing is asking for conditional love.
You want a love that depends on you possessing certain qualities or having certain accomplishments or being certain specific ways. You want a love that only comes to you because of something you supposedly are that’s different from everybody else, and you don’t always stop to notice that if you stop being this way that you supposedly are that makes me conditionally love you, then I won’t love you anymore, and this’ll prove how ordinary and therefore unlovable you are because you don’t meet up to these inappropriate self-imposed standards you’ve learned. And you are constantly under the threat of being cut off from my love or of my love being intercepted by someone who beats you in the competition of comparisons. And this threat exists because the kind of love you’re looking for, which is maybe the only kind of love you think there is, is conditional.
And if you would stop to notice that the love I love that has nothing to do with you that you happened to get in the way of is utterly unconditional, then maybe you would see that precisely what makes you special is that you are ordinary, and that it is ordinary to be special. And in fact, the more ordinary you are, the more your true essence of specialness can be present, because it’s not being obstructed by a pose or a pretense that you can’t hold up anyway. And the kind of love that can be shared by two utterly ordinary people is the most ordinary kind of love, and it is therefore not only the most special and unique love that we can share, but it is also the most unconditional, and not obscured by reasons or circumstances. And this love, the love that I love that you happened to get in the way of, must also be the love that you love that I happened to get in the way of, and being the only kind of love that is completely unconditional, it is also the only kind of love that can not be threatened by conditions changing, and so it is the only real source of security.
So for you to be secure in the fact that you are in fact special and unique, and that you are special and unique precisely because you are ordinary and human, requires that you accept this ordinary, unconditional love that has nothing to do with you as the only love that is really available to us anyway, and recognize that this form of loving is really all you’ve ever wanted when you thought you wanted transitory, conditional love directed at you because of your supposed qualities and attributes.
And if you realized all this, you wouldn’t take offense when I say that I love, that I just love and you happened to get in the way. Instead you would answer with the only answer you could give in the presence of such awesomely ordinary love. You would say, of course,
I love too.
— ©, 1994 Steve Bearman, founder of Interchange Counseling Institute (www.interchangecounseling.com)