When I was a teenager, I was active in my church youth group. We were lucky in that we had an advisor who let us ask him about anything. We were able to talk with him and each other about topics that often our parents avoided at all costs.
I still remember one discussion we all had about ‘love’ and that there were really only three kinds.
I love you if… you have sex with me. I love you if you do what I tell you to do. I love you if you change for me. I love you if you keep promising to stop cheating on me, stop beating me, stop lying to me.
I love you because… you have money and will buy me anything I ask for. I love you because you have a great body… beautiful face… nice car. I love you because I don’t deserve better.
If one aspect of your relationship changes, then love ends. If the sex or gifts stop, it’s over. If you gain weight or if your looks fade or are damaged… love is gone. Because you begin to believe you are worth more, love demands more.
Then there is Love in Spite of…
I love you in spite of all your funny little quirks. I love you in spite of your gapped-tooth grin, in spite of your muffin top, your scars, your past, your ghosts…
When you can love ‘in spite of,’ beyond the ‘ifs’ and ‘becauses,’ that’s when you accept the real person, warts and all, and love them and not what they can do for you, or what they give you, or only what you see on the surface.
To me all this meant that when I found real love it should not have conditions attached. That real love saw deeper than the surface, and further than what was in it just for me.
I did find that sort of love. I am with a man who has loved me for more than half my life and who I know will love me for the rest of my life. It’s unconditional and that’s how I love him, it’s how we love our children.
It’s how I love my friends and family. I may not always agree with them, I may not always LIKE them, but I would still offer any help I can if they need me, unconditionally.