The Myth of Unconditional Love

I’d like to credit meme psychologist Jordan Peterson with helping me further understand the myth of unconditional love and acceptance.

I remember last summer when I was going through a transitory stage in my life, watching hours upon hours of Jordan Peterson lectures. His old-world philosophy, emphasis on structure, and scattered INTJ lecture style appealed to me almost the same way as my favorite psychology professor, an older clinical psychologist with an affinity for Freudian psychology and chicken jokes. One thing Jordan Peterson said that really stuck out to me, aside from all of his Christ allegories and chaos dragons, is that identity is negotiated, not fixed.

The ideal for identity development is negotiation, trial and error, and then acceptance. Identity can never truly be fixed, but can never truly be fluid. This is especially applicable to romantic and interpersonal relationships.

From men- “Women only love men because (money/status/xyz)”

From women- “Men only love women because (sex/appearance/xyz)”

The myth that we all have a soul mate that will love us unconditionally and will never make us feel bored or unsatisfied is constantly played out in western society. The search for unconditional love from our partners calls back to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, at least from what I can see. People will search for the unconditional love that they did not receive from their parents, or from themselves.

All romantic love is conditional. I don’t believe it to be so conditional that there’s no room for discussion about standards and expectations, or that if a woman truly loved her husband and he suddenly lost his job, she would leave him. But in this situation, if the husband’s love for his wife matched her’s, he would be out looking for work because he understands that providing for his wife shows her that she is loved.

Men and women’s love languages are inherently different. Men do not want to be loved the same way women want to be loved. There is some fluidity and nuance in every couple, but the rule remains the same. If a woman were to refuse to love her husband the way that he craves to be loved, as in through sex and what I refer to as supportive femininity, she cannot complain that her husband only loved her for xyz when he serves her divorce papers after being completely neglected for years on end.

In a healthy relationship, two people bring their best selves together. “Take me at my worst, or you don’t deserve me at my best” mentality is creating a generation of perpetual children looking to be fixed instead of healthy, emotionally stable adults looking to create life long commitment.

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