Does Unconditional Love Exist?

I think many victims get stuck on “I love him unconditionally”, “if I prove my love is unconditional he will eventually let his guard down and love me also”.

He has told us that his ex’s turned on him for no good reason took him for granted, didn’t appreciate all he did, cheated on him, whatever his story is, he was the victim in the relationship. When he starts to pull away from us we fill in the blanks trying to make sense of it by telling ourselves; he is hurt and afraid to really give himself 100% for fear we do the same thing to him, so we set out to prove we are not like all the others and our love is unconditional.

I am saying this because it was what I was thinking when I was with James, this may not be your truth; but I got so stuck on proving my love was unconditional I ignored that he was not loving me in the same way. All of a sudden his love had become full of conditions. If I found his personal ad and was angry, he only had the ad because of MY behavior, if I didn’t act like “this” he wouldn’t want to go looking elsewhere. “Why would he want to come home when I act like “this”. He would refuse to say “I love you” because I wanted him to, he should not have to say he loved me just because I said it first. James used to say his love was cycleable, (whatever the hell THAT means!) he started to say things like, “I love you today.” WTF??

In the beginning he would hold me and say, “I love you just the way you are, please don’t ever change.” I tried to talk about it with him and in tears explained I was not going to be able to keep up the schedule of sleeping at his place, commuting the hour to work every day, coming home to an apartment he had completely destroyed while I was gone, have sex the minute I walked through the door, clean the house, make dinner and and stay up half the night with him and do it all over again the next day. He would pull me close and say, “I love you just the way you are.” and I would say, “but this is not the way I am.” and he would pack me into the bedroom, stroke my hair, tell me he loved me and we would have sex and I would hope my message had gotten through but nothing ever changed.

It is really hard to leave someone who is telling you that they love you unconditionally; even if their actions are saying something else.

The victim gets stuck on the “idea” of love, we get stuck on his words and ignore his actions. Actions speak louder than words is never more true than with a narcissist.

Victims usually say the narcissist “changed overnight” everything was great for a year or 10 years and then out of no where he discarded them, or they discovered the N was having an affair. I challenge them to be truly honest with themselves and look back. It is hard to admit that there were signs really early in the relationship that they chose to ignore because that would mean they are responsible for some of their own hurt, they were willing to accept less than they deserved as long as the narcissist said he loved them. It is not a very flattering thing to admit.

When the final discard happened with James I was crushed, I never thought he would truly discard me and find someone else because to be totally honest I didn’t think he would find another woman who would tolerate the things I did. THAT is really sad, I had that little respect for myself that I was willing to live on the crumbs he tossed my way just to live on the promise and hope of love.

It didn’t start that way, but my determination to prove I loved him unconditionally had clouded my good judgement, my need to be better than all the rest, love him better than all the rest; had made me in a martyr, willing to sacrifice everything to prove my loyalty. I had become a suicide bomber, willing to die for the cause, for the idea of unconditional love.

Here is Matthew Hussey’s take on unconditional love.

 

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14 thoughts on “Does Unconditional Love Exist?

  1. Only Me

    Yeah, that appears to be a trap too many of us got caught up in. I used to believe in it. Not anymore. I’m more mindful of protecting myself now. If I met Psycho Boy today, he wouldn’t have a chance! Thankfully, I only lost 17 months of my life. That was nearly all in an LDR. I’m thankful now that things turned out as it did. I guess I always knew on some level things weren’t right. But I was gullible and overly trusting. I wanted so much to believe him. A little lonely, etc.

    Right now, I can’t say that I fully regret what happened, or even that I hated him. I was angry and hurt, but apparently not to the extent so many women have been by an abuser. I never wanted to die or attempted to kill myself over him. Even at the time of my cruel D&D, while I was knocked emotionally to the floor, part of me came right back up swinging….telling him how old, and ugly he was! I think he expected me to be destroyed, but I refused to be! I think he was shocked and surprised when I started hitting back with criticisms of my own!

    I refused to take to my bed, and clenching my fists, I vowed “I’m gonna get past this and be better than ever!”. Rather than raking myself over the coals, I treated myself gently. First to a hot fudge sundae, swim at the local athletic center, allowed myself a 10 minute cry, and started journaling/blogging to recover. I watched in amazement as he’s followed all the signs of psychopathy and narcissism. I got an eagle eye view of him hooking my replacement in just the way he did me. It was hard as it always is for us. But I made it…now almost 5 years later, he’s still his shallow game playing self. No matter though. I’m doing well and loving. Good luck to you all too! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Wayne

    Yep. As my lawyer said to me. You chose to have kids with this woman. And it hurts to hear it so blunt.
    I dropped the kids off on Sunday night. She saus to them “I missed you”. Normal and proper. We hand over inside a shopping mall as she lies so much, the CCTV keeps it under control.
    Then she’s on the phone and I have to leave them. As I go down the escalator the kids are talking to me and saying bye, love you and she’s still on the phone.
    I get in the car, come up onto the street, waiting ay the intersection and they walk by. My nearly 3 year old daughter is crying profusely, being dragged along and my ex is still on the phone.
    Hang on. She said she missed the kids. No one dares call me for the 1st hour I have the kids as we all settle. Even my boss. It’s only fair on the kids.
    She never worked, but every day I would come home from work and have to tidy up the house, settle the kids, help with dinner, and argue because the kids needed dinner ealry ( being kids) but she would want to eat at 9 every night. Apparently. Just a silent way to tick me off and make me look bad. If a woman was coming over, our house was embarrassing with the mess but she wouldn’t do anything. If a man was coming, especially if it was one who returned her flirtations, the house was instantly spotless.
    The honesty about our own role needs to be accepted or we will only fall for someone similar again. I know. I nearly did. Scares the hell out of me now.

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  3. Chris

    “Unconditional Love” should only be reserved for a parent / child relationship…….applying it to a spousal relationship could be a sign of co-depency..
    While the therapy received regarding narcissistic abuse awareness solely came from internet & blogs starting right here with Carrie’s, one highlight that sticks out from working with a therapist was the revelation that unconditional love with a spouse is unhealthy…..Through therapy I was led to this conclusion after discussing, explaining elements of our relationship and personalities…..I recalled stating that I loved my spouse “as-is” acknowledging and accepting her including faults. Rationalizing situation by acknowledging “we all have faults, nobody is perfect”….I know I have more than my fair share. The “ah-ha” moment was when after internal reflection with a skilled therapist guiding me and making the simple distinction that unconditional love is for parent/child relationships and unhealthy elsewhere…..realizing why I adopted that stance…..drum roll…(in my case) …it is a possible sign of co-dependency. When you accept otherwise unacceptable behaviors / personality traits from your spouse it is an indication that you need to look at yourself and why would you accept that. I was lucky with my therapist as she let me come to these conclusions on my own. These concepts were “found” while exploring our relationship…..they weren’t concepts that were taught….she guided me to these answers as opposed to declaring the answers and definitions. That is why the lesson learned really made sense. As a result, what I next learned was to scrutinize my behavior and personality, identify areas I needed to address about ME, MYSELF & I. Focusing on changes I had control over….another drum roll….as opposed to harping, dwelling on her behavior…the discard, the confusion, the manipulation…I instead focused on why did I accept and unconditionally love someone who after 16 years had conditioned me to KNOW that God didn’t break the mold with my narcissist, no-no….he cleared room on the mantle above the fireplace, next to all those 1st place bowling trophies anointing her as worthy, entitled occupant of the pedestal I put her on. Worthy of my unconditional love. Proving the cliché ‘with friends like this, you dont need enemies’. In hindsight the relationship was unhealthy……. A healthy relationship between spouses has common courtesies, common expectations, borders and boundaries- they are not to be unconditional. Going forward, healthy relationships need to always grow..they need nutrients, water, sunshine and attention. Acknowledging my contributions to the relationship and focusing on me was/is key to recovery, survival & growth. More importantly, it took the narcissist and her actions outta the spotlight….analyzing or being victim to their game is no mans land..hurt, pain, chaos & confusion…focusing on that will put you in the loony bin…that was key, focusing on me and what about me needed work and attention.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Chris, very valid points!! I agreed that unconditional love should be reserved for our children and really have no place in a romantic relationship.
      Well said.
      Thank you
      Hugs
      Carrie

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  4. EchoNoMorr

    The only unconditional love I could conceive of at this point would be for my own child (I can never have children), but even at that, at a certain age, one has to admit that some children can not be deterred from harming others.
    So, the concept of unconditional love is flawed. Even for a child.
    I know of a couple who adopted children and the daughter repeatedly leveled accusations of sexual abuse from her father. He loved her so unconditionally that in court he pleaded guilty to child molestation so his minor daughter who was impregnated by an of age man, would not have to spend time in jail for perjury and contempt of court. The daughter is still in contact with him, but the father was lucky to not have served jail time and he lost a long career in education. To this day, he still has to register everywhere he lives and works as a child sex offender. In the case of having witnessed this horror, I would have to say no unconditional love for the daughter. Oddly, I have come to regard the daughter as some kind of Cluster B personality disordered type.
    Another example of unhealthy unconditional love for a child would be a friend of mine who has a 17 year old daughter with Borderline Personality Disorder. The daughter has repeatedly physically assaulted her mom and others as well as repeatedly called the police on the parents accusing them of near fatal medication errors among other complaints. There has been involvement with the court, child protective services, etc. My friend after years of abuse has finally decided she can no longer offer her child unconditional love because the child is a legal risk and a detriment to the mother’s welfare. It was very sad to watch this family saga unfold in front of me and be witness to the agony my friend endured to reach this decision. Just horrible.
    My N repeatedly told me of his unconditional love for me, but it became conditional when I was no longer able to work multiple jobs, clean the house, cook, do laundry, service him sexually, etc. when I became very sick. Yup, that unconditional went out the window when I had medical issues. It was not like I had a secret life or abused him, or robbed him and his family. Not like the torture he treated me to… And I still extended him unconditional love. I no longer offer that to anyone in any area of life. It was very naive for me to conceive of unconditional love in the past, but the past several years have been a very hard lesson learned.
    I think the only unconditional love should be self unconditional love. Other than that, no one gets that luxury.
    Thank you this was a great thought provoking post!

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  5. AvalancheOfTheSoul

    I’m not sure I believe in unconditional love (unless we’re talking parent / child) but absolutely agree with the point you make about how hard it is to see the warning signs when someone’s words are ‘I love you to the moon and back’, and they use that love to control us. My abusive ex painted a picture that we had a special kind of love, that he’d die for me, that I was the only woman he’d ever love. It made it so much harder for me to see, and then to accept, that his actions were telling me the opposite: he hated me and would destroy me if I didn’t get out. Really great article.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Avalanche, good points. What I have found since leaving James is I have had to redefine certain beliefs I held. I had never analyzed what things I had just taken at face value like boundaries, honesty, unconditional love, really meant.
      Thanks for your input!
      \Hugs
      Carrie

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  6. brookn hart

    My love was unconditional for him. Sadly I allowed him to use that as an excuse to manipulate me. I am ashamed at the smear campaigns I engaged in along side of him. All in the name of love. I always knew what he was capable of. I guess deep down I always knew I would be discarded. At least I had enough sense to leave when I realized he had turned on me. I miss him but in some sick way, I may have aggravated the situation so he would get rid of me. bBing discarded had to be better than me just walking out on him. If it had not been his idea to get rid of me, I dont know what he would have done to me if he thought I had rejected him. God only knows how bad it was with it being his idea to throw me away. My ego seems more damaged than anything. I cannot begin to tell you how hard it is to admit this. All my emotions may never be straightened out and understood.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Brookn Hart, BIG HUGS to you!! that is a HUGE revelation! thank you so much for being so open and honest! Now you can really begin to heal! It takes a strong person to admit the truth but as the saying goes , “The truth will set you free” in this case, free to heal and grow and find peace.
      Some thing being with a narcissist did for me was to make me analyze everything I ever knew to be true about love, life, other people and most importantly myself and who I am. It isn’t easy being totally honest about who we are deep inside, but it is all we have in the end. The N strips us naked and we have to face the truth about so many things, some people never face it and just carry on as they always have, hoping they get lucky and never meet another N, others close themselves off so they never feel again and then there are the ones who look inside, work on being the best they can be and loving themselves and they are the ones who will eventually find true love and peace. Or that is what I believe anyway.

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