Category Archives: Relationships

There is No Unconditional Love

Many people speak of unconditional love and some search for it.

A woman might say, “I want someone to love me, just the way I am.” A man might say, “I want someone who won’t play games or try to change me.” It sounds good, but may not be very realistic. If either one of them was such a great catch, they would have so many opportunities and potential partners chasing them that they might have to hide. The point here is that all earthly relationships appear to be conditional.

“But I love my wife unconditionally,” a man may say. Perhaps some woman may say the same of her mate. It sounds good but let’s say a year later the man finds his wife sleeping with a co-worker, friend, or neighbor. Suddenly he isn’t saying such nice things about her.

I thought you loved her unconditionally,” A friend reminds him.

“But look what she did!” The man argues.

“So, love is about what she does?”

“She betrayed me!”

“Oh, so now it’s about you?”

Now the man is mad at his friend also, that is if he hasn’t already punched him.

I am sure you understand the point. Conditions apply in even the most romantic of loves.

Next someone argues, “My wife would never do a thing like that. She takes our wedding vows seriously.”

Inherent in that statement is a form of an agreement, or set of conditions, that are assumed with the vows. Therefore, conditions assumed with the vows make the relationship conditional.

On the subject of conditional love, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski tells a great story about love on Facebook. A young man is eating fish.

“Why do you eat so much fish?” He asked.

“Because I love fish,” the man answered.

“Let’s see. You love fish. So, you take it out of the water; you killed it, and you boiled it. You don’t love fish. You love yourself! And because the fish tastes good to you, you took it out of the water; you killed it, and you boiled it. ”

Dr. Abraham Twerski continues explaining that is what much of love in this world is like – fish love. Everyone wants something out of the relationship. I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. This is not love, but rather a contract. The other person is there to make you feel better and to fill your needs. Gratification. Likewise, you are there to make them feel better and fill their needs. If they fail, out they go. If you fail on your end, out you go. Have you ever experienced that?

Even your parents had conditions. You had things to live up to and tasks to perform to gain their approval. Some say such training is necessary to prepare you for school and groom you for this world. Yet, Jiddu Krishnamurti asked this question. “If you know how bad this world is, why are you sending them to schools and preparing them for the world’s system? That does not sound like love.” (From the book “Think on These Things”)

So where is unconditional love? Has anyone experienced it? The closest thing you will find to unconditional love in this world is probably from an animal or pet.  It is said that “a dog is man’s best friend.” Perhaps because it certainly is no woman. All kidding aside, the same is true for women. A dog is more of an unconditional friend than any man.

Don Miguel Ruiz covers this in his book The Mastery of Love. The dog won’t nag you telling you that you need to become a better owner. If you come home and ignore it, it won’t pout and accuse you of not loving it anymore or get angry. You don’t have to explain why you came home two hours late. You can even forget its birthday.  photo dog-2995057_270_zpsl1qdrxjq.jpg

You also accept your pet for what it is. If you come home and the dog lifts its head and goes back to sleep, you aren’t upset because it didn’t greet you properly. You may demand it to be housebroken, but overall the demands people put on their pets are far less than they put on any human relationship.

Many pets would make horrible humans. I have a cat that has decided to make me her territory. She growls and bats at the other cats if they come near. Could you imagine having a friend or child like that? How about a mate or partner acting that way? It would be completely unacceptable behavior. Yet, as a cat, she has permission. Think about it.  If your animal behaves like that you say, “Aww what a loving dog!” or “Ahh, what a good kitty!”  You certainly would not be as upset or annoyed at a pet, as you would a spouse or date acting like that.

If you want unconditional love in this world you will probably never find it. Your parents can’t give it. Friends can’t give it. A mate or lover can’t give it either. The closest you will come to unconditional love in this world is your pet.

This is not to say that there should not be conditions in a relationship. Few people approve of their spouses or significant others sleeping around and rightfully so. Such behavior has the potential for many diseases and some of them are fatal. A family needs structure. Friendships need implied rules and boundaries. Everyone should demand respect.

The purpose here is only to point out that no one loves unconditionally. Chances are you don’t either. There is nothing wrong or right about it. It is simply life. We may also consider that love is not as external as many people think. As Ruiz pointed out, when it comes to love, you must start with yourself. Love is not external; it starts inside. You won’t find it outside if you don’t have it inside first. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t love others. The same is true for happiness, you can’t find it outside unless it is inside first.

Caring for Your Dying Pet

Pets are our best friends and often become family. Their love is generally unconditional. They love us so much we can’t help but love them back. They are almost more human than some people we meet.

The last days of your pet’s life are hard. One day you notice things are changing. Your friend or companion is not as strong as before. He can’t move as fast. There is weight loss and perhaps blindness. You know the inevitable is coming. Still there is time.

Veterinary costs can often be a full day’s wages. For some people, it is three or four day’s wages, for a single visit. It is worth it, but not everyone can afford it. Don’t blame yourself if you can’t. Medicine can only prolong the life that must end anyway. If veterinarian visits are out of the question, just be there for your pet and keep them as comfortable as possible. Give them extra time and love. Cut out unnecessary activities, so you have more time at home.

If you can afford the veterinarian, you have taken your pet several times over the years. Maybe she needs medicine or a prescription diet. The cost of prescription food is considerable. Even worse, if you have other animals, they may want to eat it too. Maybe your sick friend still prefers the old food. It’s definitely a challenge sorting that out.

Tired 20-year-old cat
A 20-year-old cat, that looks tired because of its advanced age.
Time passes. Maybe something happens, or the veterinarian gives you the news. Your pet is now in the advanced stage of an irreversible terminal disease. The reality hits hard. Your eyes swell with tears. You now know time is short. You can already feel the loss.

Many people can’t face this sorrow and try to avoid it. When the owners can’t face the pain, the pet is left alone or ignored. It dies lonely, on its own, with food and water provided, but with little human companionship. This is a big mistake. This is when your companion needs you the most. Don’t neglect her now. Your pet has served you and loved you for years and you need to reward her for her love and service.

You only have a limited amount of precious time left. You need to talk to her more, pet her more, and tell her she is still beautiful to you, no matter how sickly she may look. Tell your pet how glad you are they came into your life and how you would never change it. Some pets will understand. They will in the least feel your love for them. Again, this is the time to cut out unnecessary activities. You need to be home more with your beloved. Some animals as they get closer to death will cling to you more and more. Give them the time and attention.

The last days are a time of both joy and sorrow. The joy is knowing you have them for another day. There is joy in seeing they are still eating and still drinking.  You find joy in seeing they can still move around. The sorrow is knowing things could change suddenly. Any day things could turn worse. There is sorrow knowing they are eating less. The worst sorrow is you know they will soon die. But again, don’t punish your pet because of how hard it is for you. You need to face the pain and be there for them. Give them your time. Give them your love. Hug them. Hold them. Lie down beside them. You won’t regret it.

We all wish the best for them. We wish they would pass peacefully in their sleep from old age before any suffering starts. How happy that would make us. Often that is not the case. Sometimes it seems your pet is hanging onto life only because he loves you so much and does not want to leave you. Still, you must make a decision – natural death vs. euthanizing. Depending on your philosophy, religion, and culture you will choose. Even not choosing is a choice.

In countries such as the U.S., many believe in not letting the animal suffer. Many say euthanizing a pet before they suffer, “is the last best thing you can do for them.” Other cultures have different views.

What is best – I don’t know. Either way is heartbreaking.  Still, either way, whatever your view, just be there for them and keep them as comfortable as possible until the edog-1691421_220nd. The best gifts you can give to your dying pet is your time, your attention, and your love. You will never regret it if you do. If you give them time, attention, and love, you will never experience the guilt of “I wish I had done more.”

A pet’s last days teaches us much. Similar to when a loved one or a  family member is dying, we consider what is important in life. We realize some of the things we valued, are not as important as we thought. We see how selfish we have been with our time, how we may have ignored our pet in the past, and also ignored our loved ones. We remember our loved ones who have died. We realize we too will die. We realize the loved ones we ignore because we are so busy in our daily struggles will die also.

Our dying pets help us realize what truly matters – other beings and how we treat each other. In a world of thoughtless and cruel people, our pets are often the ones to show forgiveness and unconditional love beyond what any person we ever meet will show us. They teach us that we should be more like them. They show us what is more important in life. It is other beings and how we relate to each other that is more important than the material things we slave for our entire lives. They show us where we need to change. We need to give up our petty quests. We need to quit judging others. We need to love others and our loved ones more.

If you believe in reincarnation, you may wonder if you and your pet were together in a past life. You may wish that if you both have more lives, you will be together again. You may wish that someday you both be liberated and can clearly remember the present relationship and laugh and share the joy again. If you don’t believe in reincarnation, you may wish you could be rejoined in the afterlife as human and pet. It’s alright to think silly things. Your pet loves you just as much.

Your pet is dying. Now is the time to be strong.  Be there for your loyal friend. Make sure they are loved and as comfortable as possible. Do what is in your heart and know they loved you and that you loved them back as best you could. There is no better way to honor your special friend than to give them the extra time, attention, and love they want in their dying days. Be strong and honor them. Comfort them and know you did your best. Your pet is worth it. Make her last days as good as you can for her. Give her the love she deserves.

[Attribution: Main Photo at top of article – By Katja Schulz from Washington, D. C., USA (Sad Dog) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons. Author does not necessary support this work.]

When Someone Advances and No Longer Has Time for You

girl texting

Often when a person advances, old friends or supporters will notice that the person no longer has the time for them that they once did. One may think or say things such as “he’s changed.” Notice that change is framed as though it is a bad thing. But is it? Maybe, maybe not, but since when is not changing a virtue? Isn’t life by nature generally about change and growth?

Instead, it is best to think, “well, good for them.” If they have moved up or advanced and no longer have time to answer your calls or texts, that’s great! Be happy that they are improving, moving on, or fulfilling their purpose. After all, what kind of friend, has a pity party in their friend’s success? Certainly, that is no real friend.

Sometimes, perhaps a person worked with the recently promoted or helped the recently promoted to get where he was. Maybe the complainer supported or sometimes worked closely with the advancing person. You may hear them say, “I guess he thinks he’s too good for me now,” or “he doesn’t even appreciate all I did for him.” But did that person do it only for the other or did they in part do it for themselves? Were they forced to do it? Were they forced to help? Didn’t they want to do it? If not, that is their own error and not the fault of anyone else. If it was an on-the-job situation, weren’t they paid for it?

As for your personal situation don’t forget, if you had not been there, someone else would have most likely filled your role instead. That aside, it’s still good when someone advances, even if they no longer return calls or texts. It’s good they moved forward. Perhaps any resentment you have may show where your life is lacking.

If you were of any help to this person succeeding, even a small part, that is wonderful. It is great if you supported or assisted, even in a small way. Take a good look at yourself. Perhaps it’s
now time for you to do something bigger. You cannot be a good leader until you are a good follower. If you followed this person well and now they advanced, you are a good follower and your chance has just come closer.

If you aren’t interested in leading that is fine too. Leaders need support. What good is a leader with no supporters or good team players to help carry out the work? Nothing will get done. The small tasks a team player does is just as important as what the advancing person does. If you actually helped them, that is great. Perhaps you are good at what you do.
Perhaps you are a great and valuable team player. Perhaps you are a good support person. Those can be hard to find. There is no less glory in being a team player, or a support person, rather than the leader. All need each other. All are of equal importance. All parts combine to make the whole.

Consider this. Just keep doing what you are doing and if necessary find another team. Also, remember that unconditional love is happy to let go when the time arrives. That means everything is going as it should be. Maybe you thought that you were good friends. Friends should know when to let go. True friends can meet up ten years later and start right where the left off. Let go. Let them find their way.

So next time you don’t get a reply, look at your phone and smile. Be happy they moved on to bigger things. They may merely be short of time now, and maybe you should be glad it’s not you. Team players take a lot fewer problems home and find it easier to sit back and relax. Chances are you’re just as lucky as they are and sometimes even luckier. Enjoy life. Next time they don’t reply, smile and wish them the best.

The Old Dirt Road

Paul Nieto
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