The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. Brian Tracy
This post is 5 of 5 in the series: Loving Without Expectations.
Love means different things to different people.
In fact, there has been more written about love in literature than any other concept.
Shakespeare wrote of love’s “infinite variety,” both in terms of the many people we can love, and the many different ways we can love each person. He also wrote that love is not love that alters when the other person changes, but remain fixed and steadfast, or unconditional.
Unfortunately, many people love with expectations, rather than unconditionally.
Most people are pretty certain that love is the secret to a happy life. The mystery is to learn how to maintain that love and not push it away.
Expectations Alter Love
The musical comedy “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” gives you an idea of what the meaning of love is for many people.
We want the other person in our life and for a time, things are fun, but sooner or later, a laundry list of expectations starts to take over.
Part of it is a fear of loss of control.
The other person is so important that love can seem overwhelming and all-encompassing.
We imagine that by setting an agenda, we can keep on track with the values that are important to us—security, a nice home, maybe children, and through getting all these things, feel happier and more fulfilled.
The trouble is that we are really using the other person in order to make ourselves happy rather than thinking about their happiness.
We think about what we want from them rather than what we can offer others.
Part of the problem is that many of us don’t really love or accept ourselves, so it is hard to love others.
We hide parts of ourselves because we fear we will be rejected and therefore can’t achieve the intimacy and honesty that are essential to a close, loving relationship between two people.
As soon as they hear the word love, most people think of romantic love.
However, there are many types of intimate loves: parent for child, child for parent, between siblings, amongst close friends, and so on.
We tend to focus on romantic love in such a way that it devalues those other loves and significant relationships.
This is a big mistake which contracts our lives and happiness.
If you’ve ever skipped out on plans you made with family or friends because your latest love interest suddenly called to invite you somewhere, you will see that this lack of respect for the other people in your life happens far more often than it should.
So what is this mysterious thing, romantic love? It can include:
- Being affectionate
- Being sexually intimate
- Being emotionally intimate
- Being honest, able to reveal yourself to the other person safely
- Sharing activities
- Sharing time together
- Sharing a living space and possessions together
- Sharing innermost thoughts and feelings
- Feelings of security, that the person “has your back”
- Financial and family security if you get married and have a family
This is a pretty long list of expectations for most people, and the priority changes over time.
For example, women read Cosmopolitan magazine to learn about relationships and how to have a hot sex life, but this may not be their main priority once they become a mother.
It can also be tough to focus on a passionate sex life if your husband has just lost his job and you have no idea how to pay the bills.
In addition, many things on the above list can be enjoyed with many different people.
This will greatly expand your experiences and growth, and take a lot of pressure off your romantic partner to be everything to you. And you’ll have something interesting to bring home instead of the same old stories and complaints.
Since outward circumstances change, we need to look within.
Being in love means wishing to make the other person happy, within reason, and behaving in a way that is nurturing and supportive.
We love them unconditionally and accept them for who they are.
By taking actions that our partner will see as loving, and accepting their love in return without closing ourselves off from it or judging it as being good enough or not, we can enjoy the true freedom of unconditional love.
Read more from this series on Loving Without Expectations.