Unconditional Love. Conditional Relationships.

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Are you sometimes conflicted between your desire to love someone and your ability to be in a relationship with that person?

I think that we human beings are called to learn to love unconditionally, first our own self and then everyone else, starting with our children and people we naturally feel close to and appreciate all the way to people we don’t like that much or even who have wronged us.

That’s quite a challenge and it’s an adventure of a lifetime to learn to give that kind of love to our own self and hopefully other human beings. Being a parent experientially teaches us unconditional love and a lot of people first experience that kind love through parenting their children.

But loving unconditionally does not mean staying in relationships unconditionally.

Unconditional love has no boundary - that’s what is unconditional about it. By opposition, healthy relationships require boundaries.

Boundaries don’t need to be thought about much or at all when both parties are on the same page regarding values, physical and emotional space and mutual respect. Boundaries are naturally sensed and respected between compatible people, like between friends who gravitated towards one another because of their similarities.

On the other hand, in relationships between people who are more different and less compatible (like in families and work places), boundaries will have to be thought about more consciously - and perhaps discussed and negotiated in case of conflicts - if both parties want the relationship to continue in the long-term in a way that is mutually satisfying.

And that’s where conditions come into play. Because boundaries are essential to healthy relationships, they become requirements to engage and stay connected in the relationship over time. That’s true for both personal and professional relationships, although the type of boundaries required will differ.

Even the most personal or intimate relationship - like a friendship or a romantic relationship - is a kind of unspoken contract of mutual respect entered by two willing people.

With some people, we can have mutual respect in a very close relationship, and with others we will only find a common ground of mutual respect by being a little further apart, emotionally and/or physically. With other people, we can not be in a relationship at all.

We can love unconditionally and we can end a relationship. These two things are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes it’s actually necessary to distance our self from someone - or even end a relationship – in order to be able to love that person unconditionally. Or our own self.