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Unconditional love

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Egosum—
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Would loving your parents be unconditional? Is it because they are your parents? Or is it because you have loved them for so long already.

(I know the possibility of truly not loving your parents because of some terrible circumstances as a child or later.)

Or--is love the wrong word to use for your parents? I remember in OPAR Leonard quoted ayn rand: "there is no such thing as platonic love"

Even though there are some type of people who find their relationships with kin romantic, but that isn't my question:

Love is not unconditional, and is only meant in the romantic context, what would you say for your kin or friends? "I like them." I guess? And, If loving is acknowledging the loved as one of our greatest values, does that mean we like them more than our parents? Or does that mean we love them (romantically), or that we value them in all contexts?

I'm confused. Someone help me clear that up.

Edited by Egosum—
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My parents never did anything awful to me, they actually did a relatively decent job as parents, but I don't love my parents. They just aren't really my kind of people, so I appreciate the job they've done and the support they give me, but that's about it. Parents don't have to be awful to not get love from their kid. Love takes some serious earning in actions, character, and personal value commonalities I think in all forms of love. And in the quote you gave, I'm pretty sure it was meant as referring to specifically romantic love. I think if you go to aynrandlexicon.com and look up the entry on love it lists some other possible uses for the word love than just for romantic love. You could rightly say you loved somebody non-romantically, but that love is still also conditional. Also, I'd assume it varies from person to person if they may romantically love somebody and have that romantic love be more or less than any possible love they may have for their parents.

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Would loving your parents be unconditional?

I'm confused. Someone help me clear that up.

I'd suggest you look into some of Nathaniel Branden's books on the subject:

http://www.nathanielbranden.com/catalog/in...php?cPath=21_24

And for two free samples of this thoughts on Love & Relationships:

http://www.nathanielbranden.com/catalog/articles.php?tPath=3

In my opinion, love is always conditional because people have free will and can change for the better or worse, or they can just grow apart. But they do have a choice about who and how to value.

<Φ>aj

Edited by aristotlejones
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  • 1 month later...

My x-husband warned me, "Don't ever try to leave me or you'll be sorry." A year ago, after 20 years of marriage, I told him I was through and wanted a divorce. He proceeded to throw me out, lock stock and barrel, from our matrimonial home, enlisting my 19 year old son's help in the process. At the same time my husband was prosthelytizing my son against me with bribery, oppression, defamation and psychological trickery.

During our legal proceedings toward a divorce, my husband convinced my son (I believe with coercion) to testify against me in front of a court reporter claiming I was an abusive mom. He cited an event in which I slapped him for driving like a maniac on a dangerous country road. I believe I had no choice because he would not listen to reason and drive safely. It was either get his attention or perhaps be seriously hurt in an accident.

My son signed his own Affidavit and attached it to my husband’s Affidavit. I believe my x was trying to discredit me as a wife and mother in front of the law in order to gain financially in the property dispute resolution. My son and his dad seem to have a solid alliance now, a sort of "man's club" and a common enemy, me, who broke up our family.

I was a good mom and sole care giver for my son for many years when my husband worked overseas for lengthy periods of time. When my husband was home he was not proactive as a father with my son. I was never an abusive mom in any way and I was always concerned for my son's welfare. For example, I protested issues of indoctrination like global warming, etc. at his school and insisted to the Principal that an opposing view be presented to the class. My husband would portray me as a sort of wacko (for standing up to the teachers, etc) to my son in an attempt to discredit me in his eyes.

For the last 3 or 4 years, due to deliberate defamation of my character to my son by my x, my relationship with my son has been severely estranged despite my trying to contact him with warm emails and calls. I don't believe my son acted in a manner true to his most inner feelings toward me. I think he still has a chance at developing an objective philosophy. I hope his self esteem has not been permanently damaged. He currently does not want to have anything to do with me or my side of the family including his half-sisters from a previous marriage. Once he pretended to be warm when he called but later I discovered he was only spying in order to gather information for his dad.

I’m wondering if I should continue to try to contact my son and encourage a relationship with him? What about counseling if he would agree to it? He is 19 and legally an adult. I believe he still has some respect for me as his mom and that I could be a good influence in his life if he can find that respect again. But he is currently living as a second hander for his dad and others. A further complication is that I am concerned he may act as an informant for his dad which could have an adverse affect on my life. I wonder what hope there is for him now to have an honest and respectful relationship with me and ultimately to be a Howard Roark instead of a Peter Keating?

Rationally, part of me is rejecting a relationship with my son due to the potential adverse affect it could have on my own life (due to him passing information about my life to my x, potential harmful defamation, etc.) The other part of me remembers my son as a delightful benevolent boy. I value his relationship and I would like the chance to guide him to maturity. Perhaps I could do that by just being a role model. I’m not sure. I think the philosophical question to my problem should be - Should a mother's love be unconditional for her son?

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freedombreeze,

Unconditional love isn't valid love in any manner. Everyone has to earn the love you feel for them. Blood means nothing.

I don't know the nuances of your experience with your son, the complete set of values you hold, or the depth of those values you hold; only you know/(can know) these things.

So far, your son has lied on multiple occasions in order to bring you harm, and, when he's not doing so, he refuses to communicate with you or your side of the family, at least this is what I gathered from your post. You've also expressed concerns as to whether he will lie to you if you two were to ever communicate again (faking a warm disposition is lying) in order to spy for you ex-husband. Personally, I wouldn't think there is a valid reason for him to do any of the above, but I don't know the situation as well as you do, as close, personal relationships are complicated.

It's tough when someone one loves/loved takes a turn for the worse psychologically. When the loved one begins acting maliciously and destructive towards the lover, it behooves the lover to stop loving. One cannot remain a rational, selfish person while valuing a human being that is attempting to harm his/her life. Indeed, if the loved lies to the lover regularly, it becomes difficult for the lover to distinguish what is true, what is false, and who the loved actually is.

You know the situation better than I do. Good premises. :)

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Would loving your parents be unconditional? Is it because they are your parents? Or is it because you have loved them for so long already.

I don't love my parents in the sense of "feeling" that I love them (although I do try to like them and be fair to them), but it's not unconditional. There's no such thing as unconditional love, because love is a response to values. If you don't value someone, you can't love them no matter how much you may protest that you do.

Many (I'd say most, but I really don't know) people love their parents because their parents have taken good care of them, been there for them when they were in trouble, and in general shared large portions of their lives with them. This is not a connection that you can simply dispense of or leave behind you. Even if you have a rough relationship with your parents, some affection will likely remain (as in my case) because you shared more good times than bad. People often have similar relationships with their siblings because you can't live in the same house with someone for 18 years and not share SOMETHING with them.

Or--is love the wrong word to use for your parents? I remember in OPAR Leonard quoted ayn rand: "there is no such thing as platonic love"

This is strictly in regards to romantic relationships. You can love someone who you are not in a romantic relationship with (although if they're the type of person you'd seek a romantic relationship with, you'll probably also *desire* them and wish you COULD have a romantic relationship--that's healthy, in fact). Peikoff would probably have referred to these kinds of deep relationships of a non-romantic nature as friendships in order to draw the distinction at that time. It's a word choice, he's not saying that friendly relationships don't exist.

Love is not unconditional, and is only meant in the romantic context, what would you say for your kin or friends? "I like them." I guess? And, If loving is acknowledging the loved as one of our greatest values, does that mean we like them more than our parents? Or does that mean we love them (romantically), or that we value them in all contexts?

This one depends on the particular person and circumstances, so I won't try to answer it. Just remember that Peikoff was using "love" to mean "romantic love" in that context, not "friendly love".

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I'm confused. Someone help me clear that up.

Well, for one, love isn't something you can switch on or off, as you choose. All you can do is evaluate a person rationally, and let your feelings for them develop, or change, as a consequence. As you mature, your feelings for your parents, siblings, friends, might change.

But serious, romantic, mature love is definitely different than all that. Such love can safely be characterized as unconditional. A person doesn't fall in love with someone's steady job or above average paycheck. As Rand put it:

"It is with a person’s sense of life that one falls in love—with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which is the essence of a personality. One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person’s character, which are reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the style of his soul—the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness. It is one’s own sense of life that acts as the selector, and responds to what it recognizes as one’s own basic values in the person of another. It is not a matter of professed convictions (though these are not irrelevant); it is a matter of much more profound, conscious and subconscious harmony. "

Under normal circumstances I can't imagine any "condition" that could change that. Changing it would require one or both people changing the essence of who they are. That doesn't happen very often, so it is safe to say that such love is unconditional. If someone tells you that they love you as long as conditions A, B and C are accomplished or remain unchanged, they either don't mean it or they don't love you. You love a person period, you don't love them if A, B and C.

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Towards people I used to love but because of actions or attitudes I can no longer value them to the point of saying I "love" them I would say I maintain an attitude of unconditional kind regard.

I have no reference to point to on this, it is just my personal attitude.

I may not want you near me, or want to interact with you, or have you directly in my life at a point in time but if at one point I valued you enough to "love" you I will maintain an ability to forgive should the circumstances change.

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  • 2 weeks later...
This is strictly in regards to romantic relationships. You can love someone who you are not in a romantic relationship with (although if they're the type of person you'd seek a romantic relationship with, you'll probably also *desire* them and wish you COULD have a romantic relationship--that's healthy, in fact). Peikoff would probably have referred to these kinds of deep relationships of a non-romantic nature as friendships in order to draw the distinction at that time. It's a word choice, he's not saying that friendly relationships don't exist.

Is there an Objectivist take on the "asexual" community?

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I've seen the damage done by unconditional love. My parents love my brother unconditionally even though he's a totally worthless parasite, malevolent asshole and a degenerate POS meth addict with no value whatsoever as a human being. His whole life, he's been able to get away with absolutely anything, secure in the knowledge that he will never be disowned, cut off, kicked out of the house, or even made to clean up after himself. I have been trying to explain to my mother for years that she is enabling his despicable lifestyle by continuing to pamper him with unconditional love, and that only a decadent person could love a rotten person like him, but she is incapable of withdrawing. He's now 25, has never had a job in his life, and spends most of his time doing drugs and jacking off to child porn in the dark. My mother continues to love him unconditionally and coddle him like an infant. I'm starting to wonder whether it's love at all or just some kind of primitive maternal bond. I told her that, if she loves a person like him, I don't want her to love me also. She blanked out.

Edited by Brian Gates
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Is there an Objectivist take on the "asexual" community?

Not as far as I'm aware. It depends on why you're not interested in sex or romantic relationships. If you're rejecting sex as "icky" as a part of some sort of ascetic lifestyle, that's one thing (and bad), but if you just don't have much, if any, sex drive, that's another thing.

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