To love without conditions or requirements is often spoken about when it comes to evolved or adult relationships. And then there are also other needs that can come into this, such as; acceptance, approval, appreciation, respect, attention and many others.
To be loved by another and to have all the other needs met in a way that is unconditional can sound like a wonderful idea. The question is, is this really possible or is it an illusion?
I believe that in order to understand this better, it is important to take a deeper look at childhood development. Because it is here that one first requires unconditional love. This is typically sought from the primary caregiver and is vital for the Childs development.
And in an ideal world the child would receive unconditional love from the caregiver. But the reality is that this doesn’t always happen. One of the consequences of this is that the child is likely to end up emotionally and mentally undeveloped.
At this age the child is completely dependent on the caregiver to take care of its needs and the child has no way of doing this. So all focus has to be on the external sources and all expectation is on the caregiver.
Two Types Of Care
The first type of care is classed as empathic care and where the mother is unconditional in how she responds to the child. Here the child needs are looked after and focussed on. What needs the mother does have are typically secondary to the needs that the Child has.
On the other hand is what is classed as unempathic care and this type of care will be based on conditions. The child will not be loved for who they are, they will be loved based on whether certain requirements are met or not.
And as the child is completely dependent on the nurturing of the primary caregiver this is inevitably going to lead to the child being emotionally and mentally stunted. The above two examples are just general guidelines; as a mother doesn’t need to be completely unconditional in order create a functional child. Mothers are only human after all.
For the child that does receive unconditional love in the majority of cases, they will have had the chance to develop mental and emotionally. The early environment allowed this process to occur.
And for the child who was brought up in an environment where the kind of care that they generally received was conditional, the child is unlikely to feel mentally and emotionally developed. So even though the child has physically grown into an adult, they will still look to other people to fulfil these neglected childhood needs.
Although the seeker is now an adult, they are still searching for the needs that they didn’t have met as a child. So in many ways, it is normal for them to still fell like they did as a child.
And the challenge is that although one may still feel like a child through regression, the person they are looking to fulfil these needs is unlikely to be their caregiver, they are typically going to be adults also.
This means that they also have needs and wants of their own and therefore cannot give unconditionally like the other persons caregiver should have done.
Another important element here is that as a child, one is enmeshed to the caregiver and therefore doesn’t see themselves as separate beings.
Here the child will naturally look to the caregiver to have its needs met and this means that the child has no way of taking care of these needs themselves. As an adult, one can regress and end up looking at others this way once more.
When this happens one will lose their boundaries and become enmeshed to the other person; this is then a reflection of the early childhood relationship that one had with their caregiver. This can then lead to one feeling dependent on the other person. Whether one feels accepted, loved or approved of will then be out of their control and based on the other person.
During the early developmental stages it was imperative that the care giving was consistent so that the child could develop and as an adult this is not always possible. For a certain period of time this may be possible, but the chances of this staying that way for a long period of time is unlikely.
And this is because as adults, we all change from time to time and some people change more than others. So while one can regress to the child they once were and perceiving the other person as being the only person who can make one feel loved, accepted and approved of for instance; this is not the truth.
What the other person can be is a mirror and a catalyst for all that one needs to heal and let go of within themselves. There will be some needs that they can take care of and there will be some that they can’t.
And the person that one attracts will often be the person that will bring up all these neglected needs and this can not only lead to a lot of pain, but also to a lot of healing and growth taking place if this is allowed take place.
The important thing here is to be aware of when one regresses to the child they once were. To be clear on what another person offer and what they can’t. This may require some real assistance or it may only be case of becoming aware of certain ways of behaving and changing these ways.
Therapy could then be very useful, as could a coach or reading up on this area of psychology. The ability to feel accepted or whole is ones natural state. What makes one feel that this is not the case is when the past that has become trapped and needs to be released.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, 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.