We want to believe that in our deepest relationships, our loved ones, (be that our friends, family, or partner) would love us no matter what, at our best and our worst.
We sometimes find out the hard way, though, that their love comes with expectations or conditions. Being in a relationship where we are made to feel like we need to hustle for love is detrimental to the individual and to the relationship. It doesn't mean that we're not loved, but that the love is conditional.
It's hard to see the signs of that kind of love despite its painful impact on our ability to love and be loved. Here's how to see conditional love for the weapon that really is.
Do you want to learn a secret technique anyone can master that will make someone fall in love with you?
What Is Conditional Love?
As the name suggests, conditional love is a type of love that is based on reciprocity or expectation—and is a love that can be withheld when those circumstances aren't being "met". Now, this is not the same thing as simply having standards for your partner or relationship. "Conditional love" means that a person is made to feel that in order to be loved by someone, they owe certain things to their partner or have to meet certain thresholds to receive love.
The risk is that if a person is in a situation like that for too long, it destroys their self-esteem. They start developing people-pleasing habits and fear drawing boundaries in case of upsetting someone enough that they abandon them or no longer love them. If you're the kind of person who always puts everyone else's needs above their own, this might be you.
In contrast, unconditional love doesn't make excuses for you but rather accepts you both at your best and your worst and supports you when you're not always able to give back.
Never Good Enough
If love has been conditional to you, you felt like you always needed to give more than you already were. You gave more than you were given and didn't feel you should be asking for anything in return. You worried about asking for favors out of fear of seeming like a burden and yet struggled to say no when favors are asked of you.
Your partner may have made you feel like you need to do certain things to entice them into a good mood or persuade them to be affectionate. They likely conditioned you by criticizing you, or starting an argument and becoming distant if you didn't fulfill a certain list of expectations.
Depleting Your Energy
One of the best ways to assess healthy love is by evaluating how you feel when you leave them. Do you feel more energized or more depleted? While we all have limited social batteries, relationships based on mutual unconditional love leave you feeling supported, balanced and hopeful. In contrast, relationships where love is one-sided leaves you feeling drained, overwhelmed, and frustrated.
If you are always trying to get on someone's good side or impress them, worrying that if you're not listening and caring for them constantly then they will stop loving you, your stress hormone will skyrocket. As cortisol levels increase, you will feel burned out because of their presence in your life.
Walking On EggShells
You'll feel this one right when you're about to go see a specific person. You may feel on edge, wondering which side of them you're about to get or hoping that they're in a good mood because it decreases the chances of you setting them off. These relationships are usually codependent and make you feel responsible for someone else's happiness.
Someone else's happiness is never your responsibility, so these expectations set you up for failure. It creates relationships where someone is constantly disappointed in your ability to fill a void only they can take responsibility for and shift the blame to places it doesn't belong. Their love becomes conditional on how happy you can make them at the price of your own happiness.
More Loving In Public
Some people care more about how their love looks rather than how they actually show it. You may be begging for a little extra attention or affection only to suddenly get it when you finally convince your partner to go out to dinner with you at a restaurant. At that point, the condition of their love is that you're there to make them look good to others. Reputation is more important than your feelings.
Yet, a person who loves you unconditionally is more likely to share their affection towards you in close private moments when it's just the two of you.
Be careful of someone who loves to remind you of all the times they did something nice for you. Showing you love is not a chore that they can check off the list to throw it back in your face when you're not acting to their exact liking.
The same applies to arguments. When you confront them, their defense shouldn't be to remind you of a past time that you might have done something similar. This a way to turn the blame on you, so they don't have to take accountability that completely overlooks the present issue and ignores how it makes you feel. With unconditional love, your feelings would be respected, and they would apologize for the impact of their actions, no matter the intention.
"Always" And "Never"
When the words "always" or "never" are used to approach how you handle a situation, it's often to gaslight you. It's a way to twist words into new beliefs meant to control you or make you question your sanity.
For example, constantly repeating: "you're always so sensitive" or "you're never satisfied with what I do" are exaggerations that manipulate the conversation on a psychological level. The repeated exposure would condition you into thinking that you're irrational and that what they're saying must be true.
Draw A Boundary
Sometimes love isn't enough. Someone loving you conditionally still means that they love you but that their love is bound to hurt you.
In any relationship, look at how you feel and ask: does this person make you love yourself more?
Love is more than just kisses and butterflies. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on your date of birth.
We don't blame you for being frustrated with dating and wanting to stick with what's comfortable, but if you're struggling to find and keep a quality relationship click here to find out how to break the cycle.
For more great relationship advice and tips on how to attain the kind of love you deserve, watch this video from expert, Amy North: Click Here To Watch The Full Video.