As soon as I knew I wanted to write about this, I began looking for a picture that described what this is. I decided to go for one without words. The ones with words on them usually were completely misinterpreted meanings of unconditional love.

I want to explain the difference between conditional love and unconditional love.

Conditional love is when you love someone, when all conditions in life are favorable, but leave once they become hard. This would include sickness, loss of money, loss of job, loss of status, or any hardships due to life circumstances.

Unconditional love is when no matter what happens in life, no matter what condition you are in, or your house is in, or the financial situation etc, you still love the other.

The reason why I find this so important, because we often confuse unconditional love with being complacent and accepting of abuse behaviors.

We are often taught, even by the “spiritual elite”(I have been in many classes) that if you truly love someone you will look past all their issues, all their “faults” etc, however this gets taken to the extreme where it becomes paralyzing. You feel like if you leave, you never loved the person and you can’t leave someone if you love them no matter what.

The difference is-unconditional love isn’t a free pass to abuse, to be a detriment to someones health and well-being, to treat the other like absolute garbage and manipulate. It’s based on conditions in life not what is done to you.

What needs to really be done, is we need to love ourselves and notice when it is unacceptable for this to occur, know what your boundary is, and have enough self esteem and love to walk away and take care of YOU first and foremost.

You can still love someone unconditionally, and distance self. You do not have to stay in a friendship/partnership or tolerate family if they display that type of behavior. You can love them and let them go. If you show them what the actual manifestation of their actions are-they will either choose that they don’t want that consequence, or it won’t matter to them. Some will try and manipulate and say you can’t leave, say they don’t want you to, but it is up to you to discern if it is because they are trying to control you or they really do love you.

How do you know if someone is trying to control you? Well think about it-do they ask you to meet their every need yet will not meet any of yours? Are you changing your life to suit everything for them? Are you losing a sense of self because everything has to be approved or something that they would want to do? Do they guilt trip you for taking time for yourself, with friends, family?

I want others to know that unconditional love means you can see the person for everything they are and love them, no matter what the circumstance of life is, that you love without thinking of what you can get out of it. However, if they are controlling, manipulative, abusive in any way, or aren’t on the same page as you, you need to walk away.

I’m not saying there isn’t the odd time where someone who has been abusive has gotten help and changed, however they usually want to break the cycle and want to reach out for help.

We can’t change anyone, all we can do is stay true to us, stay true to our heart and soul, make sure we stand up for ourselves and not allow the fluffy rainbow talk take over our discernment and shame us for doing what is best for self.

Love without limitations but realize that taking a step back isn’t limiting the love, it’s allowing it to to exist without it being a detriment to self. Sometimes that distance is exactly what they need.

For example, at the age of 12 I knew what unconditional love was. I met my first boyfriend, we started dating around grade 8. I instantly knew, from the moment I sat next to him in grade 7 home room, there was something there. We grew together, we bonded, we built the best foundation of love that blows me away today, at such a young age, we knew how to do that. We broke up at the age of 16, we needed our own life experiences, and as much as it hurt, I loved him and wanted him to be happy. His happiness was more important than us having to be together and I knew if it was meant to be it eventually would work out.

Over the years, we didn’t talk much, we ran into each other here and there. Regardless of what he went through and what I went through, every now and then I would think about him. I would wonder and send him messages to make sure he is okay but would let go of any expectation of him returning that message. I never ever stopped loving him, I just moved forward with life. I made peace with the fact that I may never end up with him, and I would still love him regardless of who I ended up with.

So, you can take a step back from one another, without anything being wrong. If it doesn’t feel right, you can take time apart to grow and do what you need to do in life.

Long story short-9 years later we found our way back to each other. We went for lunch and he gave me his usual big hug that just made me almost burst into tears. It felt like home. Needless to say a few days later we were back together.

Of course, this isn’t just for romantic relationships, it applies to all types, like friends. People grow apart and it isn’t wrong, doesn’t mean you do not love them.

It is hard because I’ve been there. I’ve wanted to help others out of their pain so bad it triggered in me a lot of pain. I wanted to show others what unconditional love is and how beautiful it can be, but when they don’t want it–there is no changing that. We need to learn when we need to remove ourselves from certain situations and people.

I saw this quote that made me smile. “Love is unconditional, relationships are not.”