Trapped in Conditional Love

While we would never want to admit it, conditional love is very much the predominant expression of love in the world today. It is something we have accepted as close enough to love and therefore we have begun to accept, and even expect, this type of love time and time again.

So what is conditional love?

Conditional love has many layers and many forms, all of them designed to show the world just enough of our true self (our essence) so we don’t appear soulless, but not enough that other people might freak out, run away or point and say, ”You’re different,” “We don’t like you” etc.

Conditional love is the voice that says, “Don’t shine quite so bright, don’t say what you actually feel, don’t step on toes.” It is also the voice that says, “You’re better to wallow in your woes, because when you wallow, others leave you alone or give you attention and sympathy.”

As a past master wallower, I can say that people are not at all threatened by wallowing; in fact they seem reassured by it, confirmed by it in some way.

As a student returning to living from my essence, I can say without question that we stand in front of each other with an essence inside of us that is delicious. This is the feeling that people crave most. It can be uncomfortable to feel because it reminds us that we are so much more than flesh and bone. However, it is delicious and it is our everything. It is made of love, joy and harmony and, said with respect, it is the answer to any woe, issue, concern or problem we have in life.

However, it is not there automatically, it is there by our choices. The more we fill ourselves with conditional love, the more the essence is hidden underneath. Thus it is our own free will, our choices that determine how much of this love we fill ourselves with and allow others to see.

So this essence sits unexpressed and unaffected by life’s ups and downs, while we continue to calculate how much we need to protect it from the world.

The catch is, it is love, which means it is there for all equally, which means to hide it from others, you are also hiding it from yourself.

This is key…

  • We have this essence that is unaffected by the world but we try to protect it from the world, i.e. we are protecting something that doesn’t need protection.
  • We have this essence that we crave very, very deeply, but because we try to protect something that doesn’t need protection, we cut off our own ability to connect to it.

Sure, we have all had life experiences that tell us the world is not safe and have had people in our lives espouse love but deliver nothing short of evil, so I’m not criticising the desire to protect ourselves. I am simply pointing out that we protect something that doesn’t need protection and, in doing so, prevent ourselves from feeling the very thing we crave more than anything else.

And so we choose to be trapped in a conditional love, which typically means:

  • I will connect more to me, as long as people around me are a certain way
  • I will be honest with you, if you promise not to react or disagree
  • I will be caring towards myself once I get past this project/issue etc.

Basically we are saying, “I will only be happy when the surrounding circumstances equals the conditions I set.” … This is conditional love.

BUT, and here is the true manipulation of conditional love, if and when those conditions are met, we quickly re-write the rules. All of a sudden, the behaviour you ask for from others is no longer enough to express yourself in full, or the week where you’re feeling on top of the world, you start looking for the downside.

We seem to be forever placing the thing we crave most just out of reach.

And so, like a child who has dropped their favourite toy, we either throw a tantrum, insisting someone else pick it up, or stand there crying, waiting for the sympathy that will come.

My name is Joel and I am a recovering wallower, learning to share his toys.

By Joel Levin, Western Australia

Related Reading:
True Love – I Found my Own Way
Opening up to People – Letting True Love Flow
Being Loved to Be Love

1,653 thoughts on “Trapped in Conditional Love

  1. A past master wallower… Joel sometimes your way with words is just wonderful… What an image this particular phrase brings up… And haven’t so many of us been a PMW 🙂

  2. Hi my name is Kim, I to am a recovering wallower, learning that the essence that lives within is far to enjoyable, beautiful and divine not to share.

  3. ” Trapped in Conditional Love ” When its said this way it sounds and feels terrible , but this can only be so, because I must know un-conditional love, perhaps this is true for all.

  4. “We protect something that doesn’t need protection and, in doing so, prevent ourselves from feeling the very thing we crave more than anything else” – so true, if we are not connected to that thing we crave most how can we ever know how grand that is so it needs no protection. We are very good at justifying not giving this a go, but when we see those who have, our ‘what if?’ gets awakened.

  5. I sometimes ponder on how conditional love got such a hold in the world. We come into the world absolutely knowing true love but then gradually let that go to the point that we don’t even remember that we know that true form of love. This feels like one of those ‘Emperor’s new clothes situations’, where we only see and act according to what the crowd tells us is true, despite what we know inside.

  6. If we wallow then it gives other people permission to do the same .. to slump back be in comfort and not be who we truly are. However if we re-connect to our innate essence and express from this there is an openness and transparency with others, no protection and no walls and people get to feel this and not only put their defences down but also know they can live from the same space within themselves.

  7. Wonderful Joel thank you – such a clear expression of the truth of our essence. I often feel it is like trying to find something you haven’t actually lost. The search keeps us occupied and distracted from the awareness that we already have it. ‘Where are my glasses? Oh, I’m wearing them!’.

  8. Most of us would never admit that we love conditionally, but it certainly is the norm. It may not be until we see unconditional love in action that we can see how far conditional love is from true love. I knew unconditional love as a small child then learnt to compromise for recognition and the meeting of needs as a substitute.

  9. Hi Joel, I cannot really relate to your analogy about the buckets and the sand and water however, if our essence is not where we are coming from then we have to look at where we are coming from. Are we coming from an ideal of love that has all sorts of conditions attached to it that have been conjured up by the mind? And are we doing this so our essence doesn’t get a look in to our life and remains hidden from ourselves and others? To even consider holding back the love that we innately are in essence to be a good protection from being hurt is a bit crazy really . . .. but it seems most of us do this as crazy stuff happens when we allow the head to rule over the heart.

  10. Joel I agree with you whole heartedly when you say
    “We seem to be forever placing the thing we crave most just out of reach.”
    I am just waking up to the games that are being played out in life and how we play them so that we do not upset our comfortable – uncomfortable lives.

  11. As much as protection is part of holding on to conditional love it becomes obvious by your exploration that there must be another element at play. Somehow we seem to be more invested in our conditions than in eventually receiving and living what we are craving as gets exposed when our conditions are met. Besides protection we gain justification from our conditions, the justification to make it about self whilst love naturally would make it about everyone and all of us as one.

  12. When we deeply explore all the issues and reasons for why we don´t have true love in our lives it comes simply down to ‘we don´t want it’, we are not willing to choose it – yes, we long for it, miss it, suffer because the lack of love but nevertheless we are not fully open and willing to embrace it. Despite our stories of lovelessness, hurt and pain there is an aspect in us that wants to hold on to the conditions we put on love and people and before we are not honestly exploring the reasons we will not let go of the conditions.

  13. Oh yeah, boy can I relate to this, I had such an awesome opportunity this week to observe how much I live in protection, waiting for the next blow and measuring people against this. It is a killer to see how much this hurts others when we do this.

  14. ” Basically we are saying, “I will only be happy when the surrounding circumstances equals the conditions I set.” … This is conditional love. ”
    I have never heard it said that way before , but it makes sense. Thank you Joel for sharing.

  15. We not only put conditions on love but life in general. We expect life and people to be in a certain way before we are willing to give life our all, but actually we want to be confirmed and hold on to our conditions to have the justification for not being all that we are. It is a tricky game we play mainly with ourselves, an artful distraction, or simply a lie we want to believe in.

  16. I did not see how much I was living by conditional love with others, I would hold back my love if I felt they would reject it or hurt me, which is a judgement and shows that I was putting conditions on all of my relationships.

  17. Conditions are what separates us from oneness. Conditions we need to surrender before we can be complete again. Conditions hold people and God at arm’s length. Conditions guarantee individuality.

    1. This is so true Julie and I have been so good at this, choosing ‘to stay small to please others’. Wow, what a game, and saying no to this is so empowering, joyful, light and fun.

  18. Great to expose how we put conditions and expectations on love so that we cap our true expression and knowing of the innate love we all hold within.

  19. The trap of moving the goalposts absolutely exposes how conditional we are with our love and how it’s not about love at all, but control, and yet as noted here, the love we are needs no protection and in order to connect to it we need to be willing to be it, to share it. Anything less is less than who we are and not what we want, and to live that love we need to let go our conditions, our love awaits us when we do.

  20. I have been really good at this Joel, ‘protect something that doesn’t need protection’ and I am recovering from this form of protection that shuts people out, keep them at arms length so they don’t get too close and see who I really am. This also keeps me in the cycle of wallowing, it allows me to create issues out of nothing and to avoid being love. It is so much more fun and joyful to let people in and share my toys.

  21. Every day, every moment is a process of becoming aware and letting go of the conditions we have put on love and thus on life and people. We are releasing ourselves back into the truth of unconditional love.

  22. Just coming back here as conditions are the big hindrance to everything we actually are looking for. Being conditional is against where we come from and who we are. How would a life look like where we put our conditions to the side, what would be possible? That´s worth pondering on.

  23. I love the sand bucket analogy – it is so simple and true. We have a choice of what energy we allow – does it heal or does it harm. This makes everything so very simple. It just makes sense for us to truly consider do we compromise or do we connect to what we know real love to be and accept nothing less.

  24. Oh gosh, I knew this one well…”I will be caring towards myself once I get past this project/issue etc.” Fortunately I have chosen to stop wallowing in this one as much and now do prepare and take care of myself during a busy time but it was a big one that gets many of us.

  25. Wow Joel, what you shared here makes so much sense and brings to light how silly it really is to try to protect an inner essence (love) that can never be manipulated, nor changed, and lives infinitely within us. That’s a bit of an ouch for me, but also makes it super inspiring to not hold back what is naturally there to come out if I let go of those seemingly infinite conditions!

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