When you think about love, how do you think about it? Everyone grows up in different families and each family has their way of expressing and receiving love. Some families buy each other things. Some give hugs and some are very strict. Others don’t express love enough, or even in any way. No matter how your family expressed, or didn’t express love, you can learn other ways. Learning how to give and receive unconditional love is a part of growing up and developing healthy relationships.
As I meet people, I learn about their history, and backgrounds. Some people think buying friends and support is the way to go. The problem is when they run out of money, things fall apart, and they end up alone. Money can’t buy happiness, but friends can come out of the woodwork when you have money. I read about people who win the lottery, and it ends up making life more difficult. Unconditional love is about having a relationship that is give and take. We have talked about relationships often, but learning how to give and receive love is important.
When you think about giving and receiving love, what do you think about? Some people think about presents. Other’s are focused on physical love, likes hugs and kisses. Other’s might be focused on being needed. What if love is a feeling? What if it’s something that starts inside, and continues to grow? When I think about love I think about someone who is there for me, through good and bad. I think about someone who can call me on things when I need it. I also think about someone who isn’t afraid to be honest with me, when what I really need is honesty, and can handle honesty in return. When I think about my children, I want to show them that I love them, but I also want to show them that I believe in them and I expect them to be the best person they can be.
The other piece to love, is being able to separate behavior from the connection that comes from love. I will always love my kids, no matter what, but I will also hold them accountable if needed. I will share information and concerns with them, and I want them to share things with me as well. I need to know how they feel. I will always try to help them, and I hope that I will never have to draw the line so they can’t take advantage of me, but I will draw the line if needed. Unconditional love has to include mutual respect for each other, and that doesn’t happen if one person is trying to take advantage of the other. I have watched people lose everything because they felt that they had to help. As a result, they struggled and some never recovered, sometimes financially, other times emotionally. The give and take in adult relationships has to be present for a real relationship to be present. Otherwise, the relationship is only one way, and not healthy.
No matter how you grew up, and how love was expressed in your family, or not expressed, you can make things different in the future. You have the power to change your future and create healthy relationships based on respect, and unconditional love. Never confuse guilt, or manipulation for love. Love should be equal, and not based on expectations. Learning how to love, and when to take a risk for love, can help make you happy for life.