Sunday, May 23, 2010

Unconditional Love

As a "student of love," I am always checking the blogosphere for the latest, greatest information and came across this recent blog post in Psychology Today: Should Love Be Unconditional? This was written by Aaron Ben-Zeév, Ph.D., who is an expert on emotions and has written several books on the subject as well as the PT Blog, In the Name of Love.

I have to admit, this article was quite academic and a bit over my head. I had several, "Huh?" moments as reading. But, if I'm going to take my "Love Project" seriously, I have to do some serious research. Though, since I have a very hard time being serious and I prefer to write with a much-less academic style, I will take it upon myself to try and translate this article from academic to um... bloggy, with my own uneducated opinions about the content.

In the article, Ben-Zeev explains unconditional love as a love that is somewhat blind to reality and "is also unconditional in the sense of willingness to give everything to the beloved." He goes on to give a quote from a married woman who is in love with a married man... but, from what I can gather, the unconditional love that is being described is not with their spouses.

"He magnetizes all my thoughts, all my feelings, and he does it all the time. Our love does not depend on any external circumstance, nor can it ever be threatened by them, which is the whole miracle of it."

I'm guessing the "external circumstance" she's talking about is the complication of being married to someone else. I suppose this is to represent how this woman is "blind to reality." The problem I have is that I'm not thinking a person who got married to someone and is describing unconditional love with someone else is exactly an authority on unconditional love.

Ben-Zeev says: "Compromises, moderation, and boundaries are possible, and even necessary, when it comes to the implementation of love." He seems to be speaking out against the earlier definition of unconditional love (something I would call "blind love") as unhealthy. He then goes on to suggest we define unconditional love more as something which "endures despite unfavorable circumstances." Personally, that sounds more like a definition of commitment to me.

Ben-Zeev goes on to describe how people in love are not blind to their partners' faults, but just see more of a positive aspect, or love them in spite of their flaws. He wraps up by summarizing:
A lover might express: "Darling, my beloved beautiful partner, you are so precious to me and I easily see how wonderful you are; the small aspects in which you do not excel (to say the least) are so insignificant that there is no sense in dwelling upon them."

All very interesting, but not my idea of unconditional love. I think unconditional love is more like God's love or the type you have for your children... the type that says, "No matter how many times you roll your eyes at me and do all that other stuff that drives me crazy, I will always love you. I will love you, even if you don't love me. I would die for you." Is it possible between romantic partners? I suppose it is, but I don't know if it would be healthy.. especially the part about "I will love you, even if you don't love me." In romantic love, I believe the level of commitment has to be equal for the relationship to be healthy. So, if both people love each other unconditionally... well, they probably are saying something like:

"Darling, my beloved beautiful partner, you are so precious to me and I easily see how wonderful you are; we both have (rather big) aspects in which we do not excel, but that's what makes us human. Besides, we're getting old, and no one else will have us. Let's give this unconditional love thing a whirl. I'll love you forever and would die for you."

And then hope their partner doesn't kill them...


Rebecca S. Mullen said...

As usual, you crack me up!

I like that you take this esoteric stuff and boil it down. I must say that I've never read Dr. Ben-Zeev's work. My comments have to be limited to your commenting on his thoughts.

This "love the love" idea is a bit hollow for me. Always has been. I need something a bit more real.

ben buckle said...

That's an interesting post. It was worth visiting your blog. Hope to visit again.UNCONDITIONAL LOVE