A series of hurts and misunderstandings have taken place in the life of my friend and her husband. So much so that recently there has been a disconnection with a adult child and their spouse with the outcome that my friend is separated from her grandchildren. I feel for her terribly. This all came about as my friend and her husband, let’s call them Amy and Peter, were unable to meet a request of minding the farm animals because of a commitment they had made to another adult child that involved interstate travel.
Amy showed me the texts that arose. They were quite hurtful and what I would call resorted to negative ‘kitchen-sink’ comments. Have you had someone throw the ‘kitchen-sink’ fit at you when they are angry? You know when they spit out all the wrongs, real or imagined, they perceived you have perpetrated on them since the birth of time. I am sure we have all been subjected to that ‘kitchen-sink’ type of one-sided argument. It reflects a lack of responsibility for their behaviours and words, which emanates from the speaker’s internal driver of needing to be right. So all manners of things are thrown up in an attempt to make the accused the wrong-doer.
Amy and Peter were subjected to transactional love. This is a term I have coined. Transaction is a giving and receiving, an exchange. We make transactions every day. You exchange money for the food, clothes, books and so on. Transactions are pivotal in our lives, but there is one aspect in our lives where is has no right to be – that is when we love someone.
When love is not love
Love is NOT about only giving it when you get something first, or in return. We don’t give love to get love. Love, real authentic love, is not about what you get. It is about giving.
I’ll love you if…
Transactional love is about ‘you give me what I want or you won’t get my love’. This is paying for ‘love’ in whatever way the intended recipient expects. This is not love. This is a selfishness. It holds the ‘love’ receiver to ransom. Do this, or you don’t get ‘love’. Let me be clear that transactional love is ‘love’ in the mind of the person holding the transaction in place, but it is not love.
Transactional love stems from a sense of entitlement. It is not generous. What saddens me for those that live from a place of transactional love is that they are unable to embrace their own flawed nature, so they will not tolerate the flaws in others.
Those demanding that their wants be met, in the form of transactional love, develop a hardened heart towards those that give them those wants. The more they get in exchange for their so-called ‘love’, the more they simply demand. Regrettably they hold it against a person when their wants aren’t met by withholding their ‘love’. They are incapable of seeing the relational difficulties they cause, and all blame is flung at the person who was targeted to meet their transaction.
Being held to ransom is your choice
Those that want payment for their ‘love’ cause damage in relationships. This is because it eventually breeds resentment and a justified belief of unfairness and injustice in those who are expected to pay the price for love. As Amy and Peter shared with me there were many hurts and unfair behaviours that this child and the spouse had dropped on them, but Amy and Peter had decided to not raise those issues because they wanted some hope of keeping the relationship. Instead Amy and Peter received a verbal barrage of accusations, blame and fault-finding. But they have decided that they will no longer be held to ransom, to give what the younger couple want, at the expense of Amy and Peter. They have chosen to believe they have the right to decline any request that is not reasonable or do-able for them.
Does payment make everything better?
Remember, this is not ‘love’. For reconciliation there needs to be a mutual acceptance and ownership in each person that they are not without fault or wrong-doing. There needs to be a genuine commitment to forgive, forget and reestablish healthier boundaries in the damaged relationships in two ways.
- There needs to be an acceptance that love, real love, is not made on conditions or transactions.
- There must be an acceptance that each person has the right to refuse any request made of them.
Without an unequivocal acceptance of these 2 elements, accompanied by authentic remorse at the hurts caused through transactional love, the hopes of a reconciliation are gravely diminished. Reconciliation requires an acceptance of fault, an attitude of forgiveness and a genuine desire to move forward without grudges by all parties.
Why do you pay?
The most common reason is that transactional love only operates well with a person who is a people-pleaser. Being a ‘people pleaser’ does not have healthy boundaries, lacks self-love and comes from a deep sense of unworthiness and a misplaced understanding of obligation and duty. This is such an important issue for many people, that as I am writing this, I am energised to write my next post about people-pleasers, and where it comes from. They need help and support to see their beautiful and inherent worth, which has been stolen from them at some point in the life.
What’s my other option?
In unconditional love, there is no payment required. It fully embraces how flawed each of us are. Those that receive unconditional love know that they are not judged or punished for the mistakes or the disappointments they cause, their poor choices or actions, or idiosyncrasies and wrong turns in life.
It is unconditional love alone that has the power to lift us to a higher spiritual plane, strengthens us to be a better person, heals deep wounds, drives us to give back and connect ourselves to others in meaningful, loving and forgiving ways.
It is unconditional love that sets us free from a mindset of fear and scarcity to truly live in love and abundance.
Begin with you
We need to love ourselves unconditionally and first. This is something that most women have not been encouraged, supported or taught. But when you love yourself in this way, you have the inner beauty, wisdom and strength to give others unconditional love.
We need to love ourselves first, otherwise we are likely to reject unconditional love when it comes our way, out of a sense of unworthiness.
You are truly worthy of such love. Be open to it. Give it and expect nothing in return.
Pass it on
This world, our social world, is regrettably set up for transactions and transactional love is reasonably common.
Each one of us has the power to make a difference. Shine the light of unconditional love in your corner and others will be drawn to it. They will learn, rejoice in the brightness and carry it forward.
You see, when you hold unconditional love in your heart, it is not about what others do for you. You get the blessing of loving in that way. Your world becomes driven not by having to be right, but by doing right.
If you have been reading my blogs you will know that I always attempt to put what I am speaking about into practical ways to move forward and by bettering ourselves we do make a positive impact in this world. Here is a wonderful guide of learning how to love unconditionally, written by Lisa Pool:
- Imagine love as a behaviour in and of itself, with the satisfaction being that feeling you get when you act a certain way for them, not when someone else acts a certain way to you. Loving unconditionally is more a behaviour versus a feeling. Loving is the act of extending ourselves, vulnerabilities and all, into uncharted emotional territory with the belief that regardless of the outcome, we want to benefit another person. This becomes a pure act of generosity.
- Ask yourself “Am I truly acting with the most love I can for this person at this moment?” I know for myself I can come to a situation with my ego too big and in the way of my unconditional responses… this stuff has to be a conscious act for most of us, so check yourself. Unconditional love is an entirely new process for us in every situation, and we want to convey sincerity with each person we extend that love to so that it is genuine and not conditional.
- To love someone unconditionally does not mean that the act of that love is always going to be easy or feel comfortable. To be there for someone when they have challenges and need to foster growth, even those individuals in the fog of confusion know that there is going to be pain and some serious discomfort — if you choose to protect them from these feelings and emotions you’re not loving them unconditionally. Unconditional love means you tell them the truth with gentle, kind communication and you are there, without judgement, to see them to the other side.
- What does it mean if you are someone who loves others, giving of yourself freely without any boundaries?That is, you being a “people pleaser” which means you’re not being unconditional or loving to yourself first. Let me tell you, playing the martyr is not rewarding or validating and only leaves you and the other person resentful. Work to recognize when doing what is best for you first might sometimes have you prioritizing your needs and desires above someone else’s. This is a healthy part of defining who we are as individuals and crucial to know your own gauge for self-love. Remember, only when we know intrinsically that we have value to be loved, can we give love genuinely.
- Forgiveness is so important. It’s probably the most difficult and truly unconditional act we perform. In any circumstance where we feel we have been wronged, neglected or taken advantage of, if someone doesn’t apologize, it’s inherently the most loving to them and to yourself to choose to let go of any anger and resentment. Harbouring that energy is hurtful to you spiritually, and over time, physically. The noted author and philosopher Piero Ferrucci shares in his book, Beauty and Soul, that forgiving “is not something we do, but something we are.” The act of practicing unconditional love will be tainted and not at all healing if you choose to hold onto negative stuff. This is something we consciously work on every day. There is no perfect, simple way to love without conditions.
Is there someone you need to forgive?
Then please do so.
Are you unconditionally loving yourself?
Please do so, and know from that place, you will be able to unconditionally love others.
That is the call on all of us, to practice unconditional love and to make a positive difference in this world, one person at a time. Let me know in the comment box below how you give or receive unconditional love.
Clearly, love is not transactional.