I think I’ll only ever truly love those who have loved me for who I am. The people who loved me not for who I was to them, but for who I was as an entity within a vast and expanding multiverse. I’ll only be able to love those who looked at me not for what needs I could fill, but for the littlest of things, like for the breath I took and for the places I went.
I don’t think I could love someone who clearly admired me for what I’d done—for what I had accomplished or for any streak of success I’d had. Some people in my life have exemplified this, magnified it. If I accomplished something marvelous, it was like they looked at me like they’d never looked at me before: in awe, in joy, in love. But it felt so repulsive. So heartbreaking. It felt nothing like love. It felt like falseness. And that’s because it was exactly that—fake love.
It was the epitome of conditional love, this sense of being appreciated depending on the needs you filled and served for others. It made me wonder, Do you even care that I’m happy? That what I’m doing fills me with love and joy and peace? Or do you only care about how the 30-second description of my life sounds when you say it to others?
These same people would often try to grab a firmer hold on who I was and what I did. They were suddenly more interested in my “image”, in how I should “brand myself”, in how I should be perceived in the world. Because, of course, my image now meant something for theirs.
True love is looking at someone in awe and admiration and love no matter what they do or who they are. It’s being happy for their accomplishments, not because it means something for you but because it makes them happy. True love is loving someone for their existence. What you do should never sway the way they view you.
Conditional love says, I love you because of what you do for my life. Turn left, and that’s where my love will follow. Turn right, and I’m leaving you and my love for you behind.
Unconditional love says, I love you exactly as you are and exactly as you’ll ever be. Whether you turn left or you turn right, my love will follow you.
Of course, conditional love is the most common kind, but I don’t think we can justifiably call it love at all.
If you are the black sheep of your family, for instance, you will constantly lack love from those who are incapable of truly loving you unconditionally. But you’ll find a home in friends and lovers who like that you’re a black sheep and who accept you as you are.
Love and acceptance go hand in hand. You can’t love someone without accepting them fully, without wanting to change a hair on their head. And you can’t feel loved by someone who’s love is conditional (because that love is entirely counterfeit).
So if you want to love me, love me as I am. Love me for the simple fact that I exist. For my peculiarities and for our commonalities. Love me as I evolve and put no constraints on where that direction may take me.
If you truly love me, you’ll want nothing but my happiness, even if that means doing something you wouldn’t do yourself, or wearing something you don’t like, or loving someone you don’t love. To love me is to love my happiness.
To love at all is to love unconditionally. There is no other love.