Don’t know about you (a lie), but when it comes to our notions about romantic love, many of us were raised by way of Hollywood. We watched enough romantic comedies, unconsciously took notes, and believed that love — if it was truly TRUE love — was unconditional.

And, even if we weren’t the type to get sucked into the outlandish “Outlander” Jamie/Claire kind of love (see: Netflix), at the very least, we bought the “for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer,” kind of unconditional love. HOWEVER (uh oh, you may be rightfully thinking), given all the medical advancements these days, and how potentially lengthy life might actually turn out…maybe we’d be better off wondering, “How much worse are we talking?” Are we talking gingivitis, sleep apnea, short term memory loss kind of worse? OR are we talking: lying, cheating, addiction kind of worse?

Obviously. There’s a world of what’s worse.

One of the good/bad problems I find that humankind is faced with is that we’re constantly longing to be better than we actually are. We’re strivers. We want world peace. We want climate changed back. Sure, we still want straws for our mochachinos, but we also want said straws to stop killing baby turtles. Only, sadly for us (and sea life), we’re not as far along as we’d like to be. Certainly, when it comes to loving each other, we want to believe in unconditional love AND grant it AND be granted it. EXCEPT –– have a seat –– do you know what we’d actually have to do to grant unconditional love and be gifted it? We’d have to admit something we strivers don’t want to.

What’s that?

We’d have to admit that, between two healthy adults, there’s no such thing as unconditional love.

Truth be told, we all have our conditions of satisfaction when it comes to love. We just don’t own that fact, let alone tell it to others. Why? Because if we had to admit the fact that our love IS actually conditional, we’d have to ADMIT what those conditions truly are. AND, get this, meet those very conditions ourselves.

Uh-oh is right (again).

I mean, come on, who among us is saying to our partners, “If you {gain weight, stop sleeping with me, are no longer fun to be with, care more about the kids (or Netflix) than me}, THEN {I can drink more, pretend I’m fine, tell you what you wanna hear, cheat, leave, and/or all of the above}?” Fill in your blanks….

Truth is, a bunch of our honest conditions are honestly not-so-nice. As strivers, do-gooders, be better-ers, how could we admit, say, or hear that?!

We can’t and don’t.

Problem is, the more we think these thoughts, have these unsaid conditions, and don’t express them, the more real what we’re thinking feels. The more our dark side stays hidden the more we don’t notice, or ask about, the other’s dark side. What we fail to realize is that the only way to truly deal with our true conditions of satisfaction and/or dissatisfaction is by airing them. Then, and only then, do our conditions have a shot of dissipating, getting dealt with, or honestly getting broken up with for them. So, think about it: When it comes to love, what are YOUR honest conditions? What are your partner’s? How about your friends’?

Curious about mine?

My husband, David, and I discussed our conditions from the get go and when new ones arise, we discuss those too. We both agreed in the beginning of our relationship that, if we’re no longer having fun, happy, and in love, we both believed in divorce. We both agreed to keep our marriage hot, to care about our bodies and sex lives, to work on what doesn’t work about ourselves, and to fight our right to get lazy, bratty, and complacent about the partnership.

When I fuck up, I fess up. I put in promises and deal. Ditto with David. No surprise here, I’m also transparent about my love terms with friends. All of my closest friends know that they can count on me to be transparent and in-their-face about their dreams. My only true condition is that you’ll honestly answer anything (and you know I mean anything…) I have the balls to ask you. For example, I don’t need you to only have three drinks to be in my life, but I do need you to tell me when you’ve had six.

Here are, HOWEVER, some humans that totally deserve unconditional love.

Whew, who?

Children (yes, even the teen variety!), parents (especially the aging and religious variety), pregnant humans, and, of course, the unwell. If someone really has a doctor’s note, really is an addict, then they are not accountable for their actions. They don’t lie on purpose, with intent. Granted, this doesn’t mean you should hand an addict you love your credit card, or trust them, or think they aren’t lying. But, you should love them for free. You should stop putting them on “trial” as sane. You should stop saying, “can you believe they did X?” And, you should stop expecting them to be any different than they are, because, in truth, that’s insane of us.

We humans are a dark lot. We’re so very willing to lie for the sake of others. To be “nice” to cover our butts. To be fake, to pretend we’re good, and that our love is unconditional. But then we wonder why we’re not in love with ourselves, not sleeping so soundly, needing a third (or sixth) drink, grinding our teeth, and anxious.

I promise, I’ve got no problem with our darkness and dealing with it OR with our conditions, I’ve got a problem with our hiding it all. And, guess what?

So do you.

The very reason we can’t give unconditional love is because, subconsciously, we, ourselves don’t think we deserve it. And, in truth, if we’re true about our lack of truth, we could come out from behind our own puppet show’s curtain and deal with what we really think and want. You see, it’s not our true conditions that are messing with true love, but the hiding of our truth about them. There’s no need to be scared of the dark or our dark. We just need to shine a light on it and lighten up about it. I mean, come on, how can true love be true if it doesn’t have the whole truth and nothing but, included?

It can’t.

Conditions are a real part of love. They make us be real about it. So, take a look at what conditions you’ve got that others in your life might not know. Shine a light on them so you can not just see the fine print, but speak up about it.



P.S. Inner.U LOVE is Handel Group’s online coaching course that gives you the tools to not only avoid heartbreak, but find whatever, whomever, and how many-ever it is that you truly and wholeheartedly want.

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Lauren Handel Zander is the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Handel Group®, an international corporate consulting and life coaching company. Her coaching methodology, The Handel Method®, is taught in over 35 universities and institutes of learning around the world, including MIT, Stanford Graduate School of Business, NYU, and the New York City Public School System. Lauren is also the author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap, Face Your Fears, Love Your Life (Published by Hachette Book Group, April 2017), a no-nonsense, practical manual that helps readers figure out not just what they want out of life, but how to actually get there. She has spent over 20 years coaching thousands of private and corporate clients, including executives at Vogue, BASF, and AOL. Lauren has been a featured expert in The New York Times, BBC, Forbes, Women’s Health, Dr. Oz, and Marie Claire and she is a regular contributor to Businessweek and the Huffington Post. Click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation with Handel Group.

Image courtesy of Wallace Araujo