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Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Define Chimera

“Is there such a thing as unconditional love?” someone posted on his Facebook status. Some replies were funny, others cynical. Most were an earnest variation of “Yes, but…,” which was funny because it meant unconditional love had conditions. Which got me thinking: Is there, really?

So the first thing I did was to define terms:
·      Unconditional: Without conditions or limitations; absolute
·      Unconditional love: A term that means to love someone regardless of the loved one's qualities or actions. The paradigm of unconditional love is a mother's love for her newborn. Unconditional love is often used to describe the love in an idealized romantic relationship. It may sometimes also be used to describe love between family members, comrades in arms and between others in highly committed relationships.
·      Love: Having stated the above on unconditional love, we will now limit ourselves to romantic love, because that was the context in which the original question was asked. We will exclude other forms of love, like platonic love, filial love, love of family, love of friends, love of country, even love of Siam (that’s just a movie, folks!). We will also exclude deities like God, Allah and their ilk, for obvious reasons.

Then it hit me. Unconditional love is a chimera, a myth.

By its very definition, unconditional love should have no limits or conditions; and yet, we know for a fact that our love has reasons. We say, “I love you because…” and those reasons, in effect, are the conditions. “I love him because he’s straight-acting;” what if he’s effem? “I love him because he makes me laugh;” what if he doesn’t have a sense of humor at all? “I love him because he really cares for me;” what if he wouldn’t even give a damn even if you’re dying? Can you still love that person even when he shows no cause, no reason for you to love him?

In fact, the definition of “unconditional” is so absolute, that one should love a person for no apparent reason at all, except for the fact that he or she exists. Going even further, if true unconditional love exists, then we should have achieved world peace by now because everyone will love everyone else, regardless.

So the next time someone tells you, “I love you unconditionally,” give him a good whack on the side of his head; that ought to knock some sense into him. And if someone says, “Unconditional love exists,” a stronger whack will do the trick. Love will always have limits, often set by you.


rudeboy said...

"Unconditional love is a chimera, a myth."

Totes agree.

Even a mother's love - that most sainted of loves - carries implicit conditions.

As someone who learned to decode and exploit the unspoken conditions of parental love (and unadmitted favoritism) as a child, I should know. As should all of us.

It took me a long, long while to say out loud that yes, my love has strings. How else shall I yank it back when I decide the beloved is no longer worthy of my time and affection?

Unpopular opinion? Oh, yes.

Then again, popularity itself is subject to so many conditions it's often not worth the trouble.

migs, the manila gay guy said...

Give me the strongest whack you can -- I believe there is unconditional love. Maybe your Jesuit education has limited your idea of God?

joelmcvie said...

@MIGS: Andaya mo, no cheating! Hahaha. I should have stated at the start that there is no unconditional love among men; God is excluded. I purposely did not include Him in the picture.

kaloy said...

boyfriend says: "i don't need a reason to love you... to fall out of love with you, dun, dun mo ako tanungin ng reason..."

I don't know, inasmuch as men are not capable of altruism, so are we with anything unconditional. Selflessness in not our [strongest] virtue.

Ay, ang nega... :)

joelmcvie said...

@RUDEBOY: "My love has strings"

The term "strings attached" connotes a tit-for-tat condition, a quid pro quo set-up.

But aside from that, I also intended "conditional" to mean as having certain conditions present. For example, "I can only love someone who is physically attractive to me." Or "I can only love someone who is mature in his thinking." Stating it in another way: Pag choosy ka, conditional ka. Hahahaha!

~Carrie~ said...

Pag choosy ka, conditional ka.


joelmcvie said...

@CARRIE: ANUBEH?! There is nothing wrong with being conditional. You're just being human. You're just like everybody else. =)

rudeboy said...

@ joel : I meant "strings" to refer to the conditions you mentioned : "I love you because you have a big heart", "I love you because you make me want to be a better man", etc. etc.

But of course, they can refer to more...practical considerations.

In many ways, love is a contract between two (or sometimes more) parties. Hence, the provisos.

Ming Meows said...

Sometimes not showing love can be a form of unconditional love.

Fickle Cattle said...

I've never believed in unconditional love. It never made any sense. Even a parent's love is conditional. Try murdering your dad. Let's see if he still loves you. That's at least one condition. I love you because you never tried to murder me, among other things.

skeezzix said...

Only God can love us unconditionally. But it takes some amount and some kind of faith also in order to believe that. Among us mere mortals, they say that a true parent's love is and should also be unconditional. So I guess when or if you put a condition in order for you to love as a parent, then it goes without saying that you're not being a true parent.

But dogs daw can love you unconditionally. I think that statement is true. So let us learn from dogs. Who said that we can't learn anything from our pets.

Justin G said...

imho, unconditional love does exist. it doesn't matter if we haven't experienced it. i guess it's natural for people to think of something as non-existent when they haven't experienced it personally. i haven't really given love much thought and i'm a single gay Romanticist. i am also of the belief that one doesn't need to be in a relationship to be in love, so my perspective can be, and naturally is, limited. but i think love is unconditional by definition. it's when we set conditions that love begins to slowly decay.

Kiks said...

only when there bathhouses experience power failure...

yun, dun nagkakaron ng unconditional love.

joelmcvie said...


OMG, then I HAVE experienced unconditional love, at ang saya-saya!

Panalo ang definition mo, Kiks. =)