The Myth of Unconditional Love

Today, we’re going to talk about the concept of unconditional love. Soul-mates. Destiny. A key component in a paranormal romance novel is the magnetic draw between the two main characters. Often the heroine is able to capture the hero’s heart in a way no one else can. Both are unable to resist the inevitability of the relationship; they are soul-mates, bound by destiny.

The idea of finding that perfect someone who’s meant only for you is quite appealing. I admit I find paranormal romance novels enjoyable. They’re a pleasant diversion from reality. I even use the concept of soul-mates in my own work. But, when a reader begins to believe in the myth of soul-mates and unconditional love, it might be time to put the romance novels aside in favor of a reality check.

Here’s what happens in real life… Two people meet and the electrical current running between them is too strong to resist. They feel a closeness they’ve never felt with anyone else. They can sit and talk for hours, and when their bodies touch, it feels like destiny. Time for the reality check… Humans are hardwired to seek out a mate. Sex creates a special bond between a couple. This is not unique to our generation. Your parents felt the same way. So did your grandparents. Before you run off and vomit in the waste basket, bear with me. The surging physical attraction your grandparents felt for each other didn’t last forever. Sure, they still love each other, but they’re not sneaking off to steal kisses every waking moment either. Their love hasn’t dulled with age; it’s matured. Well guess what? The pulsating attraction you feel toward the guy you met last week (or last year) won’t last forever either. Love lasts, but only when that love is nurtured by genuine kindness and affection that isn’t entirely based on sex.

Soul mates do not exist, and unconditional love is for puppies and kittens.

Faithful readers: Please allow me to save you oodles of wasted time and heartbreak. Believe me when I tell you that unconditional love has no place in a healthy, mature romantic relationship. Unconditional love between a man and a woman (or between two men or two women, depending on the relationship) is not only a myth – it’s destined for failure.

Here are examples of appropriate unconditional love:

  • Your love for your puppy: He made a no-no in the house, but that’s okay because he’s your ball of fluff and you’ll love him forever
  • Your child: When he’s arrested and you have to bail him out of jail, you’re disappointed and angry, but you’ll always be his parent.
  • Your grandpa: The dementia has robbed him of his ability to remember who you are. He yells at you and lashes out in fear and confusion, but you’ll never forget the time he taught you to ride a bike, and there’s nothing he could say that will ever make you stop loving him.
  • Your baby brother: He got into your purse and smashed your lipstick into your carpet, but you can’t stay angry with him for long, because he’s just a baby and you’d willingly sacrifice your life for his.
  • Your older sister: She’s been heading down a dangerous path of drugs and self-destruction. If she asks to borrow money, you’ll be the first to say no because you’ve don’t want to enable her addiction. But, when she’s ready to make some positive changes in her life, you’re the first in line to help her because she’s family and that will never change.

Inappropriate Unconditional Love:

  • Your friends: If a friend or family member has repeatedly proven they are not there for you, or if they are making destructive choices, it’s okay to put conditions on your love and how you choose to dole it out. “I love you, but I’m not going to stand by and watch you use drugs.” Or, “I love you, but if you expect me to lie for you, I can’t do that.”
  • Your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, partner: That’s right! If you are involved in a romantic relationship, that person should NEVER be the recipient of your unconditional love. There should always be conditions to your relationship. It’s up to you and your partner to decide what the terms of your relationship will be. What are you willing to tolerate? Where will you draw the line? Lying, cheating, theft, illegal activity, drug or alcohol abuse? None of those things will fly with me. Of course, the conditions will be unique to the relationship and it isn’t up to me to dictate the terms of your love-life; however, your relationship should have some limits. Here are the words that should never come out of your mouth: “I love you no matter what.” Really? What if he cheats on you? Or pushes you down the stairs? I’m not telling you to be unforgiving and unbending if your partner gets a speeding ticket, but stick to your basic values and convictions. Expect to be treated well. Here’s where I’ll insert my opinion: Physical or verbal abuse should be a deal breaker. Period.

Now that I’ve shattered your illusions and ripped you from your dreams of finding your soul mate, don’t throw away your romance novels just yet. There are valuable lessons hidden inside the pages, and if you’re careful, you can use these books to help determine what it is you’re looking for in a partner. Here are some scenes worth paying attention to:

  • When the hero treats the heroine with an aching tenderness he reserves only for her.
  • When the heroine, disillusioned by a previous relationship that went awry, watches the hero’s behavior carefully, and over the course of time determines that he is of good character and might be worth pursuing.
  • When the hero is willing to do anything to save his woman because he loves her and can’t imagine a life without her.
  • When the hero and heroine do nice things for each other (flowers, a special meal, a walk on the beach) just to put a smile on the other’s face.
  • When the heroine calls the hero out for acting like a jealous jerk and he not only begs for forgiveness, but makes lasting changes in his behavior because the relationship is important to him.
  • I know I make way too many Twilight references in my blog, but remember the scene on the mountain where Edward allows Jacob to warm Bella who is slowly freezing to death? Edward is able to put aside his insecurities over her relationship with Jacob because he cares about her physical well-being. That’s an example of an unselfish decision based on true love.
  • Here’s another Twilight reference: Remember when Bella was so upset over Edward leaving that she began to participate in risky activities? Ladies, this is an example of what not to do. No guy is worth it and there won’t always be a vampire of shape-shifter to save you.

The next time you’re fortunate enough to get a new baby kitten, promise to love her forever no matter what. The next time you meet a new guy? Tell him you love him as long as he’s treating you well. Tell him you’ll treat him well in return. And, if he asks if you’ll love him no matter what? Let him know you’re saving your unconditional love for your kitten.

3 thoughts on “The Myth of Unconditional Love

  1. I wrote this blog for my daughters (and my sons) in hopes they will always put conditions on their relationships and only give their love to those worthy of receiving it. Never hope to be treated well – expect it.

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