Do you think true love is never having to say you are sorry?

Do you think boundaries are unnecessary with real love?

How do you feel about unconditional love? Do you believe it exists? Or that it is something to aspire to?

Many of us were indoctrinated to believe in these myths about love, but from my 25 years as a psychotherapist and my own experience, I believe real, epic, healthy, and amazing love is boundaried and conditional.

Read on to discover why.

I also cover questions you can ask to unearth your downloaded blueprint around unconditional love and I’m sharing some concrete steps you can take toward better, healthier love in your relationships.

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

Does Unconditional Love Exist?

Someone in my crew asked if she should strive for unconditional love in her dating life because so far, she has not had any luck.

My answer: the illusion of unconditional love is fueled by unrealistic goals.

Unfortunately, thanks to Disney movies and fairytales, from an early age, many of us learned that conditional love is ‘bad.’

Looking at the concept of unconditional love may seem like splitting hairs, but I have seen enough women in my therapy practice and courses struggling with it to know it is a concept worth clarifying.

The real question to ask yourself is: for love to be real, delicious, amazing, and juicy, do you believe you need to accept someone totally unconditionally?

Love Without Limits is Unhealthy

To many folks, the word “condition” has a negative connotation- it sounds like a dirty negotiation tactic, like, “Okay, I will do it, on one condition!

But what we’re really talking about is having standards and boundaries, because, from a therapeutic perspective, unconditional love is actually unhealthy.

Feeling like we must be 100% accepting can set us up to be codependent, self-sabotaging, or self-abandoning.

Believing in unconditional love can also make us reluctant to express a preference, say no, or set a limit with someone.

When we feel like we ‘should’ love someone unconditionally, we might feel wrong or selfish for having boundaries or preferences (aka, conditions).

But having conditions in your relationships does not make you selfish or demanding. It makes you someone with good boundaries. It makes you discerning.

Unconditional love is love without boundaries, and love needs boundaries because they are the foundation upon which real, lasting, vibrant love is built.

Boundaries are being clear about and communicating our preferences, limits, desires, and deal-breakers in our relationships.

If you do not have any conditions about how others will treat you (or vice versa), you have disordered boundaries.

Many of you email me to ask whether you have a right to your boundaries, and of course, the answer is yes. You not only have a right to them, you have an obligation to set and maintain them.

This leads to the question- how can we start to have healthy, boundaried love?

What Are Your Limiting Beliefs Around Love?

The first step to is to look at the unconscious material lurking in your mind about love and conditional love. If you do not know what is in your subconscious mind, you may stay stuck behaving in ways you don’t understand.

We often have limiting beliefs about how real love ‘should’ be and think we need to be more forgiving, loving, or understanding.

In the guide, you will find therapeutically designed questions you can ask to gain clarity on what you learned about love growing up.

5 Healthy Relationship Traits to Strive For

Wondering what healthy, conditional, boundaried love looks like? Here are five of the most important aspects of healthy love (according to me).

#1: Vulnerability

With boundaried love, each person ideally responds with empathy and encouragement. When the going gets rough, you want to be even more gentle with each other.

Ultimately, you want to create a safe space between you to share your best and worst moments, without feeling like you will be judged or shamed.

You may need to set the condition (or boundary) to be kind and truthful to each other, and to have uncomfortable, conscious conversations.

Perhaps your “fair fighting” rule is that no matter how mad either of you gets, you will not turn on each other because you are on the same team.

We are allowed to get angry in our relationships. Still, we can also have a behavioral boundary of physical violence is not allowed and no one can lose their shit and throw something across the room. 

These conditions must exist if the relationship is to thrive and be safe.

#2: Ability to Apologize

Another important aspect of healthy relationships is the ability to be sorry and say it to each other. This involves trusting your partner to not take advantage of your vulnerability.

When I am wrong, I apologize promptly and sincerely.

Because it is okay to be wrong, and when you normalize being wrong, it helps your partner do the same. This creates durability in the relationship, which in turn, creates flexibility.

Of course, we will not do it perfectly every time, but we need to create room for forgiveness within a relationship.

(I am not talking about forgiving an abuser or a repeat offender. I am talking about everyday mistakes we all make in our relationships.)

You have to actively work to build trust or rebuild trust. In a healthy relationship, we are more committed to being loving than right.

I am not saying it is easy. It has taken me years of therapy and wrestling with my ego around my need to be right. But admitting to being wrong can have a profound impact on our relationships.

#3: Deep Empathy + Creating Safety

Even if you do not understand why your partner feels a certain way, you can still have empathy for them.

Being compassionate creates a sense of home and safety in the relationship.

Many of my clients have partners who say, “You have no reason to feel this way, it makes no sense.”

But it doesn’t have to make sense to them. You do not need someone’s permission to feel how you already feel. What you need is for the person to care.

Vic and I have worked hard over the years to create a soft space for each of us to land. You want your relationship to be the respite, the calm in the storm, a nurturing, nourishing place to fill up your bucket.

When we are in unhealthy relationships, just sharing space with someone can make our blood pressure rise or make our heart beat faster in an anxious way.

Conditioned and boundaried love gives you the power to create a safe and sacred space.

#4: Bring Out the Best In Each Other

Have you ever been in a relationship where the person brought out the worst in you?

I certainly have- with friendships, too.

Many years ago, whenever I spent time with a certain friend, I found myself gossipping about other people, which I do not like doing.

We did not have much in common, which is probably why gossiping was the default.

Once I realized this person brought out the shadow part of me, and that besides talking shot about other people, we had very little in common the relationship naturally faded away.

The same goes for a love relationship- you want your partner to inspire you to be better than you would be without them. Hopefully, they encourage you to go for your dreams, and you do the same for them.

#5: Healthy Interdependence

With healthy interdependence, you and your partner each have your own life, and together, you make a doubly beautiful life.

Before I met Vic, I knew I wanted someone who had a big career they loved, so they would not resent mine.

I had already been with people who were not passionate about what they did and it did not work for me.

Vic and I naturally were primed to be interdependent. Neither of us is threatened by the success of the other. I love being in the front row of Vic being a celebrated expert in his field. And I know he feels the same about my career.

If this resonated with you, I want you to know my signature 12-week course, Real Love Revolution, begins on January 24! Whether you are single and looking for love, partnered and know your relationship could be better, or partnered and looking to leave, Real Love Revolution is for you. It is a three month deep-dive into love and I only teach it live once a year. If you want healthier, better love in your life, check it out right here.

In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on this episode below in the comments or over on Instagram (@terricole), and remember to download the guide to get moving on understanding your downloaded blueprint around conditional love.

I hope you have an amazing week, and as always, take care of you.

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