What is unconditional love?

Things I learnt from having had a truly unconditional relationship of 11 years that ended in my partners death. My partner was quite a lot older than I am, and he had retired early, (he was not rich so please get that thought out of your head). I was working full time shift work. I eventually realised if I worked Friday and Saturday night 10 hour shift, I would earn more money doing those two shifts than working full time. So as a couple we were in the situation we spent five days a week together. Two apart.

In the early days during a disagreement when something I thought my partner should have known automatically to do, was not done, He told me he was not a mind reader.
I realised he was right! I had not asked him to bring in the washing or do the dishes what ever it was, his mind did not work or see the things the way I did.
That was wonderful, as I realised that was exactly what I was expecting him just to know. Know everything.

Know Birthdays were important to me, his family not such a big thing. Christmas was also but I changed overtime and accepted that it was about being together not what you spent or gave everyone.

I learnt over time if I encouraged/forced him to come with me to something he did not want to. I would not enjoy myself either as I would be more focused on him, knowing he was not enjoying himself and would rather have been at home. So it made much more sense to respect him and his choices. We both enjoyed ourselves just not necessarily together, and he always enjoyed hearing how my evening went. Respect.

My partner also never discouraged me from doing or going to anything I wanted to or had to, some he chose to come too. Others he chose not too.
If I was going to friends he would say if you drink too much ring me and I will come and get you. Regardless of the time, He would do this for me, so I was not driving over the limit. (two occasions in 11 years, I am usually not a big drinker).

We made an agreement early in our relationship, I would keep my fringe/bangs, and he would never grow a beard or moustache.

We talked honestly and openly generally. I did not realise while we were together that some of my reactions to situations were due to anxiety, so he never knew that I experienced it. My depression was basically non existent. I had normal ups and downs, yet he knew I had, had depression in the past and that I had tried to kill myself.

Trust is only as good as the realtionships communication I believe.

Finances can be an area that causes problems in relationships.
We both had access to each others bank accounts, and shared paying the bills for the house. If there was a need for a deposit and I had more money at the time accessible than he did it might take a bit but he accepted that it was just the situation for that moment and it would play out that neither of us were out of pocket more than the other. I bought my own vechicle and maintained it, and he his.

Neither of us wanted children we both made that clear in the very early days.(His two children were grown up). We both wanted a dog, and I had a cat who he adored and he was adored by the cat. In fact my cat was asked to move in and the only way I got to spend time with my cat was to visit the man! I never officially was asked if I wanted to move in. It evolved.

It took a while for me to realise that because my partner needed to do things his way and I mine, it did not mean he did not like the way I did things and vice versa, it was just different. I did not try to change him because I was certainly not going to change who I was. He never told me what to wear, or not too. He never criticised me, manipulated me, put me down, or belittled me. He never talked in a negative way about me to anyone else.

I had never had that before, and as I am basically the sort of person who will tell you to your face or check out things with an individual rather than listen to gossip. I was the same. I find it distressing when a person in a relationship that is supposedly a good one, says to me something that is belittling or judgemental or not nice about his or her partner/spouse. It makes me wonder about the truth of their realtionship sometimes.

I will say we both embarrassed each other but never intentionally.

I did tear some trousers and shirts that were threadbare so he had to get something new. I was concerned that they would rip while we were out somewhere. I had told him I could see the pattern of his underpants through the trousers that I was going to do this and he did not believe me. When it happened in front of him happiness was not in the fore of his emotions, He was resigned to this. We did laugh about it eventually. He went and bought his own clothes. He was happy with them. That is the thing. I would never have tried to change how he dressed (just did not want to see him exposed) or who he was. I fell for him, as he was, warts and all just not exposing himself in public..

I do understand their are realtionships that are bad, where people are not happy, or are being abused in all sort of ways. People in these situations have to make decisions for themselves. I encourage you to think about seeking help. I do have my own opinions and feelings about these situations. I am not a counselor.

I grew up on fairytales and romance, wonderful friends for life stories. Reality is not like this. A true relationship that is mutual and unconditional be it a friendship or a romantic one is perhaps not equal in all ways. There is always differences, and preferences but communicating and honesty without malice, with respect, earning the trust of each other, being non judgemental, has to be coming from both parties equally in the relationship.

We all know the lustful in love days of a relationship are over in a short time. All sorts of things will erode those times. Work, family, sickness, finances, it is how you move on and accept that unconditional love is more than those early throes of being in love.

My partner was not perfect and we did fight, I am also not perfect. Yet having someone who was thoughtful enough to think to turn my electric blanket on half an hour before I was due home an hours drive after a 10 hour shift that is love. Doing it every week is unconditional. No matter what the temperature was going to be as he knew I would be so cold from being tired.

Unconditional love is being able to accept and laugh about the fact you just ask your partner to do the washing up before you get home, or bring the washing in, and neither is done. As bad as it seems the fact he meets you with a cup of tea and a big hug and smiles goofely;saying oh You are home earlier than I expected. I was not delighted by this, it never changed

We had no real secrets and we shared as honestly as we could. I tried not to influence him to much about my family as we both welcomed them when ever they wished to visit, and he soon saw things about how I was treated and would ask me about it after the visit was over.

I recall a phone conversation with my mother and my partner was present hearing my side of the conversation, and my mothers voice getting louder and he could hear what she was saying. I ended up saying to her I was going to go and hung up. She rang back and I knew it would be her, so my darling man answered the phone they talked for a while, and I gathered she was doing as she always did attempting to turn the blame on me. My darling man stopped my mother and told my mother he had actually heard how and what she was saying to me, that she was never to speak to me like that again, and he understood why I hung up on her. Their conversation finished my darling man walked over to me and hugged me. He told me he loved me, and it was OK. He said he could see now what I had tried to tell him about how I was treated by her when she thought no one else would hear her. For the first time in my life someone had heard her, not believed her .

He was proud of me and I of him, he was a wonderful wood turner, and a superb dad to his daughters, they had nothing but good things to say about how he was a parent, and I could see how he was so proud of his girls and loved them. Yet he was not looking at them with rose coloured glasses. He just accepted them as they were. He worried about them, and would offer help but in the scheme of things they were adults and they had their own lives to live. The girls knew he was there any time they needed or wanted him, and we would be there as quickly as we could be. In what ever capacity was wanted or needed.

One thing people seem to find difficult in the unconditional love concept is that while there are no conditions in these unconditional love relationships they do have boundaries. A healthy understanding or your own worth and what behaviours add to it and what devalue you, is what a boundary is.

“I love my partner unconditionally” doesn’t mean you love that person with some mystical purity that transcends your everyday interaction. Instead, it means that in every interaction, you come from a place of love.

Unconditional love is not the treasure at the end of the rainbow, it is not a utopia of everything you have ever imagined, nor is it any person riding up on a white horse or a corvette, and sweeping you off to his island home, where others will care for your every need and want.

It is also not the wedding day! I have seen so many people get caught up in the romance of THE WEDDING! Forgetting the most important part of the relationship is the before and after the wedding!

The following is from the site below, I have included it entirely as from the website as it takes away my personal experiences of my being so fortunate to have had a truly unconditional relationship.
https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/five-ways-screw-up-unconditional-love-fiff/

1. Unconditional love is not an obligation; it’s a choice. Loving your partner unconditionally doesn’t mean loving—or staying—no matter what. The power to love, to give love, and to walk away from love always resides with you. If someone abuses you, or is cruel to you or your children, holds you back in life, or consistently trashes your sense of well-being, you’re not obligated to stay or to keep giving your love to that person. You may still harbor a kind of love for this scoundrel in your heart—a love that keeps a safe distance—but you are not required to leave yourself vulnerable to emotional or physical harm. Saying no to hurtful behavior is not setting a condition for love. It’s simply saying I love myself first, and I refuse to abandon my self-love to indulge in the love of another who hurts me. Some people do choose to remain in relationships that don’t bring them happiness or worse, bring them harm. Justifying this choice with the excuse of, “But I’m obligated to love unconditionally,” perpetuates powerlessness and a victim mentality. Choosing to be with a person who respects you, honors you, treats you with kindness, and enriches your life is actually the first step to loving unconditionally; it prepares the ground for unconditional love to flourish.

2. Unconditional love doesn’t mean unconditional forgiveness. Your partner does something that pisses you off—big time. Or repeats the same mistake twice, or five times. Or says something that’s, well, unforgivable. Unconditional love doesn’t mean you let it go. You can demand—and accept—your partner’s apology, but you don’t have to forgive unconditionally, meaning without defined expectations for future behavior, in order to love unconditionally. In fact, calling your partner on his or her crap, not accepting lame excuses, and refusing to be a doormat is a higher form of love than forgiving everything to keep the peace. First, it challenges your partner to a higher standard of behavior, which is in the best interest of the relationship. And second, it enables your relationship to grow by ensuring that you and your partner learn from your mistakes. Relationship dynamics do not remain static, and sometimes, the way partners interact with each other needs to shift for the relationship to improve. Unconditional love requires you not only to allow but also to enable that shift by making your forgiveness meaningful and real.

3. Unconditional love is not a kind of love but a way of loving. If you’re a parent, you know that you can love your child and simultaneously hate what that child does. Your child’s horrible behavior doesn’t make you stop loving your kid; but it does compel you to treat your child differently in the moment and respond appropriately with corrective action. So to say, “I love my partner unconditionally” doesn’t mean you love that person with some mystical purity that transcends your everyday interaction. Instead, it means that in every interaction, you come from a place of love. That place of love means you act respectfully and treat your partner as an equal. That place of love means you don’t judge or try to control. And that place of love means you don’t hit below the belt and use your partner’s vulnerability against him or her. Those are the conditions you don’t violate.

4. Unconditional love has boundaries. To understand this, it helps to understand the value of boundaries and that boundaries are not selfish. A boundary is not a condition you set that says, I’ll only love you if you do x, or I won’t love you if you do y. A boundary is nothing more than a healthy understanding of your own value and of what behaviors value and devalue you. While it is necessary in some cases, particularly in high-conflict relationships, to attach consequences (such as leaving) to the violation of a boundary, in an unconditional love relationship consequences are not needed. The consequence is the impact to the feelings of the person you love whose boundary you have crossed. If your partner knows that coming home late without calling makes you feel unappreciated and disrespected, your partner can choose not to engender those feelings in you, because he or she doesn’t want you to feel them. Setting a boundary is making your feelings known, and respecting a boundary is making a choice to respect your partner’s feelings and making that choice from love rather than fear of retribution. Failing to express clear boundaries sets up a dysfunctional dynamic in which partners cross lines and cause pain unintentionally, then suffer the angry reaction to the offense—a pattern of interaction that erodes love over time.

5. Unconditional love is not one-way. If you love your partner unconditionally, as described above, but your partner doesn’t love you the same way, it isn’t unconditional love—it’s damaging self-sacrifice. Similarly, you need to hold yourself to the same standard you expect from your partner and that your partner adheres to. Unconditional love is a mutually supportive dynamic in which both partners pull each other up to the healthiest way of loving and neither partner tears the other down. Many people get stuck in unhealthy, self-destructive relationships because they think that applying the healing salve of what they believe is unconditional love to a difficult or even abusive person will change that person into the partner they desire. Trust me. It doesn’t work. Despite our conscience and sense of morality, the human animal tends to do exactly what it can get away with. No more, no less. Your one-way unconditional love will never heal or change your partner. It will only change you into a bitter and resentful person. Demanding that your partner love you in a healthy, respectful, reciprocal way—which sounds like setting a condition but is actually recognizing your own self-worth—is the only way to improve your relationship.

I don’t know what you thought unconditional love was, but I’m betting it wasn’t this. I know when I first fell in love, I thought it was something different, and it took a long time and a lot of pain for me to learn these truths. So I share them with you as an act of love, a gift forged in the crucible of my suffering. Because love isn’t supposed to hurt. Abandoning yourself, sacrificing your happiness, stifling your true character, and giving up your dreams is not unconditional love. It’s unconditional surrender. It’s ceding the territory of your joy before the first shot is even fired. To achieve intimacy, you do need to take off your armor. But always remember, your heart is sacred ground.

Thomas G. Fiffer’s What Is Love? A Guide for the Perplexed to Matters of the Heart,

blessings Tazzie.

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