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Love Must Follow You Around

As one philosophy professor pointed out , even the love between a parent and a child falls short of unconditional. A parent might love their child no matter what they do, but this love still has a condition: They love their child because their child is theirs. In a similar vein, consider the love you have for your partner or anyone else. What triggered it originally? Perhaps you felt attracted to certain specific characteristics: sense of humor, a kind heart, intelligence.

If they no longer had those characteristics, would your love continue, unaltered? From a philosophical perspective, if conditions never change, you might never know whether your love truly is unconditional.

In reality, love grows and shifts over time. It can also fade, through no fault of anyone involved. Love changes, in part, because people change.

You, or your partner, may not be the same person years down the line. Instead of seeking out an idealized, potentially unattainable type of love, try for a better, more realistic, goal: mature love founded on compassion and respect.

While a parent may love their child from the moment of birth, romantic love can take a little more time and effort. These strategies can help you nurture and sustain deep, lasting love. It can even improve the health of your relationship when handled in a productive way. This might involve collaboration or compromise. Practice open communication Good communication should be clear, honest, and timely.

All the honest, open sharing in the world may not make much difference if it comes too late. By communicating with your partner , you show your respect and commitment to working through challenges and finding ways to meet conflicting goals.

Bring up issues as they arise instead of letting your irritation simmer and gather heat. Share your thoughts honestly, but also listen empathically to what your partner has to say. Things will get easier with practice. Support each other Most relationships that thrive involve plenty of mutual support. When your partner struggles, you listen with empathy or offer a helping hand, and they do the same for you.

A time may come when you find yourself sacrificing something for their benefit, but sacrifice and support should go both ways. The bottom line Unconditional love might sound like a dream come true. But while love is one thing, a relationship is quite another. A healthy relationship does have conditions, of a sort: your boundaries.

Moving on from it, then, could be an act of unconditional self-love. Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health.

Last medically reviewed on September 15, 9 sourcescollapsed Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations.

We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy. Beauregard M, et al. The neural basis of unconditional love. This bond diminishes the feelings of liveliness and attraction between individuals. Characteristics of True Love vs. Non-defensiveness and openness vs. That truth can offer an important clue into ways we may be pushing our partner away without realizing it.

On the other hand, punishing our partner for being honest and direct with us shuts down communication. Open to trying something new vs. Honesty and integrity vs. Yet, as adults, there can be a lot of deception in our closest relationships.

When we are dishonest with our partner, we do them, the relationship, and ourselves a great disservice. In order to feel vulnerable with our partner, we must trust them, and this can only be achieved through honesty.

That means respecting them as a unique, autonomous individual. Often, couples tend to take on roles or play into power dynamics. We may tell each other what to do or how to act. Or we may speak for and about each other in ways that are limiting or defining. Essentially, we treat them as extensions of ourselves rather than separate human beings.

As a result, we actually limit our own attraction to them. Then we are no more attracted to them than we are to our right arm. Physical affection and personal sexuality vs. When we cut ourselves off to our feelings of affection, we tend to deaden the relationship. This weakens the spark between ourselves and our partner. Sexuality can become routine or impersonal, and as a result, both partners feel more distant and less satisfied. Keeping love alive means staying in touch with a part of ourselves that wants physical contact and is willing to give and receive affection.

Understanding vs. When our partner feels seen and understood, they are much more likely to soften and see our perspective as well. Noncontrolling, nonmanipulative and nonthreatening behaviors vs. One looks to the other for guidance then resents that person for telling them what to do. Or one person tries to control the situation, then complains that the other person is irresponsible, immature, or passive. In order for a relationship to be truly loving, it must be equal.

When one person tries to control or manipulate the other, be it by yelling and screaming or stonewalling and playing the victim, neither person is experiencing an adult, equal, and loving relationship. Many of us become caught up in the fairy tale, the superficial elements, or the form of the relationship i.

That is because, while most of us think we want love, we often actually take actions to push it away. That is why the first step to being more loving is to get to know and challenge our own defenses. We may be tolerant of realizing our dreams of falling in love in fantasy, but very often we are intolerant of having that dream fulfilled in reality. Robert Firestone describes how being loved by someone threatens our defenses and reawakens emotional pain and anxiety from childhood.

We have to get to know what defenses we bring to the table that ward off love. For example, if we grew up feeling rejected, we may feel anxious about getting too close to another person. We may not feel we can really trust or rely on a partner, so we either cling to that person or ward him or her off, both which lead to the same result of creating distance.

If we felt criticized or resented in our childhood, we may have trouble feeling confident or worthwhile in our relationships. We may seek out partners who put us down in ways that feel familiar, or we may never fully accept our partners loving feelings for us, because they threaten this early self-perception. Again, both of these extremes can lead to relationships that lack real closeness and intimacy.

The good news is we can start to break these destructive relationship patterns by better knowing ourselves and our defenses. Why do we choose the partners we do? Are there ways we distort or provoke our partner to act in ways that fit with our defenses?

How do we create distance?