Conditional Love: What Can Happen If Someone Experienced Conditional Love During Their Childhood Years?
It has been said that there are at least three types of love that a child can experience during their early years. There is value love, outcome love and love that is promised but never delivered.
When it comes to the first type of love, a child will only be loved when they adopt certain values and behave in certain ways. Although this type of love is conditional, it will probably allow the child to grow into an adult who is both successful and happy.
The Middle One
Outcome love, on the other hand, will be what takes place when a child is only loved when they complete a certain task and are successful and, therefore, their experience of love will be short-lived. This type of love is going to be more about fulfilling the needs of the parents than the needs of the child and what is best for their development.
Consciously, the child might not realise this but, at a deeper level, they can sense that something isn’t right. The outcome of this is that part of them can end up seeing their parents in a negative light, which can create disharmony and a sense of separation.
The Last One
As for love that is promised but never delivered, the carrot on a stick, it won’t be possible for the child to be loved. Their parents will create the impression that it will take place once they have done or achieved something.
Over and over again, they will behave in a certain way or achieve something and yet, they won’t get anything in return. The trouble is that, out of their desperate need to be loved, they will continue to try to do more and be more in the hope that they will finally receive their parents love.
The first type of love is conditional; however, they will be loved for behaving in ways that are generally healthy and will allow them to grow into a well-adjusted member of society. They will be able to grow into an adult who knows that they are loved and believes that they will be loved for who they are, not for what they do.
So, regardless of if they are successful or not, they will know that they are still lovable, and they won’t need to chase after one goal after another in the hope that they will be loved. They will feel loved and this will allow them to just be and to express themselves.
The Real World
Now, if someone was to reflect on their early years, they may find that there were moments when they were loved for behaving in ways that would serve their own development. In general, though, they may have needed to fulfil their parent’s needs in order for this to take place.
Providing that they did what they wanted, they would have been loved by them; if only for a short while. Then again, this might have been the only way for them to receive attention, acceptance and approval from them.
Along with this, there may have been moments when loved was promised to them yet it wasn’t provided. So, time and time again, they would have got their hopes up only to be let down.
Taking all this into account, it could be said that their parents were not able to truly love them. For one reason or another, their hearts were closed and this prevented them from being able to provide them with the love that they needed to grow and develop in the right way.
Stuck On Treadmill
Subsequently, one may find that they don’t feel loved or truly believe that they are lovable now that they are an adult. Most of their life could be spent trying to receive the love that they didn’t receive as a child.
They will be a human be-ing but they could behave more like a human do-ing, having a strong compulsion to achieve one thing after another. The reason for this is that they will believe that if they don't achieve things, they won’t be loved and will have no value.
Appearances Are Deceiving
If they are seen as being successful in the eyes of others, it might have been typically been possible for them to keep their true feelings at bay for most of their life. All the attention, approval and acceptance that others have provided them will have made it easier for them to keep their pain at bay.
But, as well as they will appear to be doing on the outside, they will be under tremendous pressure to continually achieve. Living in this way could cause them to experience a fair amount of anxiety and often to be exhausted.
One Big Performance
And, due to having the love carrot dangled very early on – that’s if this took place – they can often experience situations where they expect to be love after they have achieved something but, for one reason or another, this doesn’t take place. Irrespective of they did or didn’t experience this type of love, it will be a challenge for them to express their true self.
Their priority will be to do what will hopefully allow them to be loved by others and to feel good about themselves in the process. It won’t matter how many years have passed since this stage of their life, as whether they can or can’t love themselves and feel of value, will still be defined by their parent’s expectations - the expectations that now live inside their own head.
Enough Is Enough
It will be time for them to take their power back and for this to take place, they will need to realise that they are loved, are lovable and have inherent worth. For them to know, at the core of their being, that they don’t need to achieve anything for this to take place or to continually chase something that will never be provided, in the hope of being loved.
For this to happen, they will most likely need to question what they believe and to grieve their unmet childhood needs. By doing this, it will get easier for them to just be and to feel good about themselves.
If one can relate to this and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.