So the other day, I had this interesting thought come to me randomly, and I've been wanting to write up a post about it ever since. But I've been hesitant to do it, because I'm afraid of somebody I know reading into, misinterpreting it, and causing issues. Not sure who, what, or why that would happen, but just given the subject, it's made me a little hesitant. But I decided to post it up anyways, with the following disclaimer:

This post is purely a semantic musing of mine. It is not inspired by any of my past relationships, short or long. Also, it's worth pointing out that I'm not commenting on the abstract meaning here, just the literal, semantic one. So nobody should read into this in any way.

This post talks about love. In particular, the notion of "unconditional love". And I'm going to argue that for the vast majority of people, unconditional love does not exist (in the literal sense). Love always has conditions, no matter how much movies, music, or our own wishes try to tell us otherwise.

The reason I say this is that no matter how much you love somebody, there are things they can do which would change that. You say you love somebody unconditionally, but would you still say that if they slept with somebody else? If they hurt somebody in your family (or a close friend)? If they took advantage of you? If they stole from you? If they murdered somebody? If they posted nude pictures of you on the internet?

You wouldn't (or at least, I'd really hope not). So there are conditions on your love. Cheating is the classic example; a lot of people might say they love somebody unconditionally, yet if they're cheated on, that tune will change quickly. Maybe not the first time, but if the pattern continues again and again, it will. The conditions of love were broken.

Just to be clear, I'm definitely NOT trying to argue that this is unreasonable. I think staying faithful is a perfectly fine condition to have on love. It's just that semantically, the love isn't "unconditional".

Of course, the true meaning behind "unconditional love" is not intended to be the literal one. I suppose one way to look at it would be that "unconditional" love is really "no extra conditions beyond standard societal conditions" love. Or, even better, you could look at love as a kind of "contract" where you initially set out the terms, and "unconditional love" is then used to mean that no OTHER conditions are being added beyond the ones initially agreed upon. (Side note: I'm definitely not trying to suggest that people should draw up contracts; that certainly makes the whole "I love you" moment much less special).

Despite the disclaimer above, I want to reiterate that this post isn't supposed to represent my thoughts on love in any way. There's no real point to this post, other than to just muse aloud about the semantic inaccuracy of the phrase. Though I am curious what other people think.


Anonymous said...

i don't know what could be possibly offensive about this. you're spot on. of course it's not unconditional in the literal sense. if the love of my life murdered my family, yeah, wouldn't love them anymore. lol. and i think i'm a pretty "romantic" person, and i can still acknowledge that.

Jeremy said...

I wasn't worried about being offensive. It's mostly just that I'm not even arguing anything in particular, so I didn't want anybody to read this and try to take some further meaning out of it.

Also didn't want any exes to read it, and think maybe this was in some way related to them. It was just a random musing, but love is a crazy emotion, so I want to be careful.

Sarah said...

I think that people just don't think about the meaning of their words. 'Like' and 'love' are too often confused, and attraction, lust, and commitment are often mistaken for 'love.' In a weird way, I think that the only kind of love that exists IS unconditional. If love has conditions, then it was never really love in the first place. So I agree in a general sense, because I think that people are sloppy with their language, and the word 'love' is usually chosen because it is perceived as powerful. Of course, this only taints the true idea of love. I should write my own blog about this...

Courtney said...

honestly its hard... i have my own thoughts which i wont post here, but i think a lot of problems come down to there only being one word in english to describe more emotions and situations and possibilities that could ever be contained in four letters. hence the application of words like unconditional and unrequited and all that ish... but i agree with you in many ways--i think its a problem of semantics.

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