Can love be truly unconditional? Can your relationships be completely altruistic? There are many opinions on this. You’re only at your boss’s office because he’s paying you a monthly salary to get work done. You’re only approaching and hitting on a girl because she’s hot and takes care of herself. You’re only with your girlfriend because she’s willing to get naked for you on a Friday night… Or…?
Those are conditions, right?
Conditional terms and unconditional terms exist in a relationship. So what is unconditional love and how does it fit in?
So, how do you get to the point of ‘unconditional love?’ How do you know if someone actually loves you and has your best interest at heart?
Ultimately, conditions are necessary when forming relationships. You wouldn’t go out with a friend that ditches you last minute. You wouldn’t work for a boss that doesn’t pay you. You wouldn’t make a woman your partner if she doesn’t get sexy for you.
These are conditions, right?
However, conditions cannot be the only determinant holding a relationship together.
Relationships built only on conditions eventually fucks everybody up because these relationships are seen as an economic trade, with an agenda, as opposed to a mutual expression of affection, support, and empathy.
Humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers spoke about the concept of unconditional positive regard, where someone is accepted regardless of his opinions and biases.
Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl stated that the ability to love unconditionally helps both the person demonstrating and receiving reach their fullest potential.
The Problem When Everything is about ‘Business’
When I was working at a traditional Singaporean company. It opened my eyes up to ‘Guan Xi’, and how Guan Xi play a role in Asian societies. The term ‘Guan Xi’ is used in traditional Eastern societies like Singapore to define business relationships. It was an interesting experience. I got insight into how Asian culture influenced businessmen in how they perceived their relationships.
In the book Asian Godfathers, written by Joe Studwell, he delves on the topic of Guan Xi of billionaires in Singapore and the rest of South East Asian countries where wealth is accumulated through monopolies, cartels and etc.
He argued that the majority of billionaires in South East Asia made their wealth through land ownership, real estate, monopolies and cartels, rather than building a competitive service or company. This is accomplished through government licensing.
Joe Studwell also wrote that these billionaires often have no real friendships. Their friends are mostly made up of business partners and clients. Their lenses of the world are strictly business and economical.
It’s saying: I’m only hanging out with you/ listening to you/ doing what I’m doing because you have the ability to advance my business opportunities further.
They only seeing relationships as an economic tool. Their relationships are ultimately conditional relationships.
The problem isn’t with pursuing business relationships. However, it’s treating everyone as a human being and seeing them as integrated human beings.
I pursue women that are physically attractive, however, that’s not the only value that I’m holding myself to. If she acts all sassy and rude, I would not stand for it. Would you? If a girl has a piss poor personality and she constantly puts you down or belittles you, would you stand for it just to be with her because of her physical appearance?
I enjoy being around financially driven and successful people, however, that’s not the only value that’s holding the relationship together. If they are an asshole to or are constantly trying to sell me something, I’ll excuse myself.
Eventually, I redefined my business values whilst working in the company: If you’re going to purchase something from me, you’re purchasing because I provide an equitable service that’s worth paying for. You’re not paying me for my connections or any other gifts or monetary gains I gave you.
Unconditional relationships are formed when someone continues to respect and support you for your ideas and pursuits even if it differs from their values and beliefs. Unconditional relationships also mean that you’re able to say and hear no from each other.
Through the years, as my business grew as a dating coach, I started getting interesting responses from people around me.
- So you’re a pick up artist?
- So you’re a fuck boy?
I also started valuing my time a lot more. I started calling out friends and people who are late or no show for my appointments. These caused quite a bit of friction in my relationships. However, a conditional love will struggle and fight back, whereas an unconditional love will accept you for who you are.
Sometimes, the hardest of relationships are with your parents.
I used to go on angry rants about relationships with my parents and how they fucked up. I was dealing with a lot of pain and hurt at that point in time.
It’s a cultural value for Asians to place their parent’s wants and desires before their own. People get into jobs, careers, and other pursuits according to their parent’s wishes or expectations.
Some of us grew up in an environment where if you didn’t get good grades in school or took a course that your parents wanted, affection, care, and financial means is withdrawn from you.
The problem comes when you’re afraid that your parents might be pissed off that you’re changing careers or jobs, then perhaps there isn’t a genuine relationship going on there with you and your parents.
Here are some of the questions to ask yourself:
- If you disagreed with Mum or Dad, will they still sponsor your studies, give you an allowance, support you in your ambitions?
- If you stopped doing the things Mum or Dad wanted you to do, will they still care for you, communicate with you, show you support?
- If you stopped doing what Mum or Dad wanted you to do as a profession, would they still shower you with the care and affection for you?
- When you’re pursuing a new hobby, talking about interesting ideas, do your friends support you, or do they shit all over your ideas?
You can also flip them around and ask yourself:
- If a friend of yours wasn’t a successful businessman, will I still hang out with him?
- If it wasn’t for the fear of being alone, will I still hang out with this friend of yours who is always fucking late, he doesn’t respect my time, and we constantly get into arguments.
- If it wasn’t for staying under the same roof and saving on rent, will I still spend time with Mum and Dad?
This is why having objectified metrics in one’s social and dating life will be detrimental to one’s emotional health in the long run. When you pursue relationships for the sake of chasing social status, economical means, and other objectified/external metrics in life, you don’t really have any relationships at all. All you’ve got are bargains and trades.
Ironically, when you’re willing to piss someone off, risk a tantrum or lose the friendship and express what you really think or feel, that’s treating someone with unconditionally.
It’s telling someone they that may really upset them but it’s genuine and true to you. Think of it like an older brother holding you by the collar, screaming at you, but at the same time, you can see tears in his eyes that he’s doing it out of love, and he himself is in pain himself.
These are tough questions to ask, but nevertheless necessary. Some questions may even lead to painful confrontations.
I’m not saying that there aren’t any conditions to meet in a healthy relationship. You wouldn’t work for a boss that doesn’t pay you right? That’s a condition.
However, I’m saying that if you’re only together with a friend because he’s around because you have an expensive car that you guys take joy rides around. Then that isn’t an unconditional friendship. If you’re only together with a girl just because she’s willing to get sexy and naked for you on Friday night, then that’s not an unconditional relationship. If you’re only hanging out with someone because he might be able to refer you, 10 clients, then that’s not an unconditional business partnership.
It’s only when you refuse to accept these conditions, and let go of your own, that you’ll find yourself in relationships based on mutual support and affection.
Conditional relationships are inherently selfish.
It’s not me that you care about. It’s my access to my business network. It’s not her that you care about, but how the relationship looks like on the surface, and maybe how she makes you look good amongst your friends. It’s not you that I actually care about, but my fear of being alone. It’s not your child that you care about, it’s how his or her grades makes you feel accomplished as a parent.
You’re ultimately using others for your own (or lack of) self esteem. It’s not you that I care about, but maybe I’m using you for sex, money or to impress my friends. Or maybe you’re using someone else’s insecurities and failures to feel good about yourself, in a way that you are always trying to save you or fix your problems.
Unconditional relationships are relationships where two parties respect and support each other without any expectation in return. The relationship isn’t defined by popularity, social status, success or anything else. It’s built on trust, empathy and support.
These are the relationships that aren’t shaken by the external circumstances of life.
If I decided that once day that I didn’t want to be in business anymore, you and I can still get a long and go out for Friday night drinks. If I decided that I didn’t want to pursue a business degree, Dad and Mum will still support me in my endeavours. If you’re a long time friend of time, instead of fearing the loss of friendship and the meaningless of sustaining one I’m afraid to express my values, I’d rather call you out for being late for the thousandth time.
This happens when you stop accepting conditions, and you let go of your own. It is to judge someone solely based on how they treat you, and not how you can potentially benefit from the relationship. It is to see the relationship as an end, rather than a mean to an end.
If your whole life has been spent on conditional relationships, you’re eventually going to piss some people off when you adopt new values in your life.
When you iron out your boundaries and define what you’re going to accept and what you’re not going to accept in your own behaviour and from friends and family, you might find yourself in a temporary tough spot.
This may rock a couple of boats in your life. This means willing to be able to say and hear no to and from the people around you. This can piss a lot of people around you.
It can mean being willing to confront your Dad or your Mum about your genuine thoughts about something that happened way back. It can mean finally confronting your best friend about how selfish of a bastard he is at times.
It will cause drama. Essentially, you’re telling someone ‘no’ who has been using parts of you to feel better about themselves. They’ll get angry and call you many mean things. However, these are further proof of the conditions in a relationship.
Unconditional love occurs when you learn how to appreciate someone despite their flaws and mistakes, and their difference in values and beliefs.
One of two things will arise from the drama. Either the person will be unable to let go of their conditions and they will remove themselves from your life.
Or that person will be forced to appreciate you unconditionally, to love you in spite of the inconveniences you may pose to them or their self esteem.
Rogers, C. (1973). The Interpersonal Relationship: The Core of Guidance. In, Raymond M. Maslowski, Lewis B. Morgan (Eds.), Interpersonal Growth and Self Actualization in Groups (pp. 176–189). MSS Information Corporation.