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Do you know how hard it is to love someone unconditionally – to care so deeply for them, to love them so much, that you want their happiness regardless of the circumstances?  Whether or not it involves you, you want the best situation and circumstances possible to make them happy?

I know entirely too well what it is.  It’s an amazing feeling to care about someone so deeply.  Being able to accomplish the goal of making them happy is so empowering, so filling, that it can almost become addictive if not held in check.  But it can also be painful, and trying.  When you care so much about one’s happiness, you inevitably care just as much for their unhappiness.  The things that stress them, worry them, make them upset – all of these become your concern.  They become your worries, your enemy.

Dealing with your own day-to-day problems can be all that people can handle at times.  Adding a whole second set on top can be overwhelming.  It’s no wonder that loving unconditionally can seem so rare, then, because doing it means that you open yourself up to the possibility of more stress without any guarantee of relief.

Not guaranteed, as well, is any kind of reward for your efforts.  To love someone truly unconditionally, you have to do it simply because it is what you want, and choose, to do.  Loving someone with the expectation to receive a reward, either physical or emotional, isn’t unconditional.  It’s borderline selfish, whether or not the expectation is a conscious one or not.  This is much more common than unconditional love.

I use the word “expectation” and not “hope” because there’s a notable difference between the two in my mind.  Hoping for something is not innately bad – it means that you have desires, and wishes, and that is almost never a bad thing.  Expectations, though, require a form of self-entitlement whereby you believe you deserve to be rewarded for your effort.  This is the very opposite of unconditional love.  People are not affection machines, where if you put in enough time or money, sex or otherwise comes out.

Loving unconditionally can be frustrating, particularly when the subject of your affection chooses to focus their attention elsewhere.  But to me, that’s the best way to determine whether or not what you feel is real.  If you continue to love the person and care for them even if it pains you, even if it means seeing them happy with another, then chances are decent that it’s unconditional.
I hope and dream that anyone who loves unconditionally will one day be rewarded with their heart’s desire, whether it’s what they believe it to be or not.  I will continue to hold on to that hope.  It’s the only thing that keeps me going, sometimes.