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I’ve placed a lot of conditions on love.
You know, rules. Boundaries. Lines in the sand. What have you. And I always felt guilty for that because I thought it was selfish to have expectations. I truly didn’t know any different—until there was The Man Who Had My Heart.
He barreled into my life when I least expected it.
He took me on magic carpet rides and showed me the trenches of love like I’d never known them before. He was the peas to my carrots, the strawberry jelly to my peanut butter. We were kindred spirits, the two of us, and when things were good, they were very good; but when they were bad, they were disastrous.
I can remember every single thing about the day I met him in June 2008.
This charismatic, handsome man sauntering into the room I was in–confident, humorous, sure of himself. It was as if a lightning bolt struck me right then and there. We had immediate chemistry and it was obvious to everyone in our presence—not only that day but every day after that. Electricity. You know what I’m talking about. It was undeniable; so much so, that Helen Keller could have seen it from a mile away.
Our relationship was an emotional roller coaster: sometimes on, most of the time off.
Women loved his magnetic personality and he was a man that just couldn’t say no–you know where I’m going with this. Alcohol was his first addiction, women were his second and he had no shortage of them. In fact, I once watched him take another woman home from a bar when he didn’t know I was there having dinner with a friend. It was that kind of thing, all the time.
My friends didn’t understand my love for him and to be fair, I wouldn’t have either.
I didn’t take it personally—his wandering eye—because I knew it was never about me or about something I wasn’t giving him. It was simply the brokenness inside him that led him to seek out attention in such misogynistic ways. I didn’t like it, I didn’t agree with it, and it hurt down deep every single time. Only a liar would say it didn’t.
I intentionally chose to love him anyway because I saw the potential in him.
And if the truth be told, I probably fell in love with the idea of him more than I ever did the real him. We’ve all done that, yes? Fallen in love with the potential of someone rather than the person they really are. We’re human after all and it’s easy to idealize someone when you love them.
That man taught me a valuable skill called unconditional love. With him, there were no conditions.
He screwed up—A LOT. I didn’t necessarily turn a blind eye to it; in fact, I confronted him every single time and I can’t remember one incident where he didn’t take ownership of what he had done. I can remember one time in particular where I completely lost my patient, ever-loving mind on him (redheaded roots, ya know!). After everything was said and done, we both went to our separate corners to brood for a couple of days until I showed up at his office unannounced to ask whether or not he was angry with me for the words I’d said in a heated moment. Even now, I can still feel the tenderness of the hand that caressed my cheek as he said: “How could I ever be mad at you for telling me the truth?”
Here’s what I know to be true about unconditional love.
Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it takes a very strong woman to be able to love a man not worth loving all the time. And yes, every person in the entire world deserves to be loved even when they make really bad choices. But what I know the most about it at this point in my life is that love should always have conditions. Not ultimatums, although sometimes, those are warranted, especially in an unhealthy situation when one has to say you either treat me like I matter to you, or I’m out. There is a difference, you know, between conditions and ultimatums. Ultimatums represent manipulation and control. Conditions represent knowing your own worth and being 1000% sure that what you bring to the table is always enough.
The biggest downfall of unconditional love is this: we teach people how to treat us in the behaviors we allow all in the name of love.
Unconditional love is very misunderstood in the aspect that we think we have to accept how someone treats us to be in a relationship with them. We don’t. You don’t. I don’t. You can love someone unconditionally for the rest of your natural life and not have to put up with the bullshit they keep dishing out because they don’t recognize how valuable you are. Love them, sure—but love them from a distance because someone who takes advantage of your love for them is not your happily ever after.
Putting conditions on love is not a bad thing; in fact, it’s a necessary thing.
Conditions set the precedent of what you will and will not accept in a partnership with another person. You do not have to be talked to like a dog. You do not have to be the only person who compromises in the relationship. You do not have to be made to feel insignificant, especially when you and everybody else around you knows that you are the best thing that has ever happened to him. And you especially don’t need a man who makes you feel like you have to prove your worth to him to be with him.
Til next time, stay sassy!