Depending on the person, this can be either very easy or very challenging. I also believe this can be interpreted differently by different people and about different people in our lives. Children, for example, I believe are easiest to love unconditionally for many reasons. We might not like our kids all of the time, and some can certainly give us a run for our money a good part of the time, but we can’t stop loving them unconditionally. If we don’t, then who will? And by nature, they are still learning how to be productive citizens in society, how to be a good people with good character, how to make good decisions, and so on. They need to know that they can take chances and make mistakes along the way while they are learning about themselves and life around them and that someone will always be there to either praise them or be there when they fall and help guide them to better choices the next time.
We may have other family members (an adult sibling, for example) who don’t always make good choices or show respect, but we can often forgive them because they are family. Even with family members though, sometimes we reach our limit and say enough is enough, especially when that person never seems to learn from their mistakes and is never willing to listen to others or do anything differently, or perhaps always puts themselves first. I am not saying we stop loving them necessarily, but we are much less willing to go out of our way or make accommodations for them or even spend time with them sometimes.
Then there are the other people in our lives such as our significant others and friends. It’s these people who are sometimes difficult to love unconditionally because, well frankly, we don’t have to. A lot of it depends on the person and how they treat us. I know there are marriage counselors who will suggest that you need to love your spouse/partner unconditionally no matter what, but I don’t agree with that philosophy. I think it’s very easy to love someone unconditionally who is overall a good person who is giving and respectful and has however many other good character traits but maybe has a hard time remembering important dates, or needs reminders to get things done, maybe doesn’t have the greatest communication skills, or perhaps is somewhat of a sloppy person or has a hard time showing appreciation, and things of that nature. Those things can be worked around or overlooked, or perhaps improved over time.
It is very challenging, however, to love someone unconditionally who almost always puts themselves first, doesn’t treat people with respect, doesn’t have good character traits and values, who is overall a pretty negative person, who can be manipulative and/or deceitful, and who isn’t willing to make any changes to improve any of these things. This is where I disagree with any counselor who would suggest I should still love someone like that unconditionally. I have enough love and respect for myself and the other people around me to not want to have someone like that be a significant part of my life anymore. Children at least have an excuse because they are still learning, but adults should know better. And if they haven’t been taught what it means to have good character growing up and don’t want to learn as an adult, then I am not obligated to love them unconditionally. Sometimes love, just like respect, needs to be earned, or at least deserved.
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