UNCONDITIONAL LOVE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A CHILD OF IMMIGRANTS
By Khadija Sharifi
Growing up, the media taught me that unconditional love is the ideal love to strive towards. It is a phrase romanticized by countless songs that left me fantasizing about having someone to love me, “Even when I’m wrong, even when I’m right,” like Tupac said, and someone to love back with that same energy. When I stopped to think about the term, I realized what it means is to love someone blindly through absolutely anything they do or say. I began to question if that’s a healthy relationship to have with someone in the first place.
Unconditional love is described as limitlessly loving someone through anything they do or say and all that life throws your way. All you’re supposed to care about is the other person’s happiness, and no matter what they do, you will always love them, even if you receive nothing in return.
The only way this sounds understandable to me is in a family dynamic. I’m not a mother, but from what I’ve seen in tv shows and books, it’s quite common to love your kids no matter what they do. I’m sure those that do feel this love from their parents have a great sense of comfort and the confidence to mess up in situations because, in the back of their minds, they know no matter what they do, their parents are going to catch them when they fall. Honestly speaking, I don’t believe most immigrant parents have that kind of unconditional love for their children. I certainly didn’t feel like my parents did growing up because when I would mess up, they wouldn’t say, “It’s okay. We still love you.” They would make me feel ashamed of myself and afraid to ever make another mistake again. At the same time, I was raised to protect and only trust my family over anyone, which is probably why having unconditional love for a family member makes more sense than having it for a romantic partner.
In a romantic relationship, I think this sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen because there’s much room and opportunity to be taken advantage of. Being this selflessly loving sounds great on paper. However, if you keep overextending yourself and prioritize another person’s happiness over your own, it will lead to a disaster of a relationship. Your partner can take full advantage of that and become way too comfortable knowing no matter what they do, you will never give up on them because your love is unconditional. That leaves the person doing all the loving susceptible to mental and emotional manipulation. Suppose the unconditional lover feels like they aren’t treated the way they deserve in return and express this to their partner. In that case, the partner can argue that if their love were truly unconditional, they wouldn’t expect anything in return in the first place and that their happiness is what should matter to them.
Naturally, people are always going to push the boundaries. If you don’t set boundaries on the premise of “loving unconditionally,” you are bound to get hurt. I see it going nowhere but to a toxic, one-sided place because your partner can disrespect the relationship all they want without consequence.
All in all, I think unconditional romantic love is unfair. It’s not worth losing yourself to make someone you love happy. I think the only person you should love unconditionally is yourself. Be there for yourself, prioritize your happiness, and pick yourself up when you fall. Make yourself the main character! Perhaps I’m biased from growing up in a self-care centered society. Or maybe I’m just a cold-hearted pessimist. Either way, let me know your take on unconditionally loving another person.