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#251838 - 09/29/08 06:01 PM Unconditional love vs doormat - where is the line?
Marissa Offline

Registered: 05/06/08
Posts: 69
I've been thinking a lot about this since my last post.

Unconditional love means that I love and accept him no matter what, right?

Does that mean I love and accept his dysfunctional behavior and allow it to continue?

Does that mean I lower my standards for what is an acceptable way to treat me becasue he isn't able to do it any differently?

Does that mean I have sex with him out of guilt and just resign myself to the fact that sex is going to be emotionally devoid and - oh well - learn to live with it? Becasue he needs it?

Where do you draw the line with unconditional love? Does unconditional love mean being a doormat?

Does it mean that I have to give up on my ideas of what I want sex with my life partner to be simply because his pathologicacl mind won't allow it right now?

Does it mean I can't say, "sorry - I'm only going to have sex under healthy psychological conditions".

How do you do that? How do you lower your standards for how you want to be treated and valued simply because the person you love isn't willing to do the work to change things?

Doesn't unconditional love involve setting some limits?

What about me? Don't I deserve unconditional love? Don't I deserve to be loved and accepted even if I dont' want to have sex with you right now? Does it have to be a big fucking crisis because I need a break from the stress and anxiety of having sex with you?

It's just so much work....

I don't know where unconditional love ends and healthy boundaries begin......

#251840 - 09/29/08 06:14 PM Re: Unconditional love vs doormat - where is the line? [Re: Marissa]
M3 Offline

Registered: 09/05/07
Posts: 1392
Loc: Central Ohio
Wow, a lot to respond to but I'll pick one.

Unconditional love stops and doormat begins when you go from giving of yourself to losing yourself and giving too much. You can love unconditionally without losing your boundaries. When the boundaries go, the weight of the issue will squash you like a doormat.

He needs you to be strong and love unconditionally, but not to be everything. If you need distance, take it. If you need his attention, get it. The relationship is a two-way street. The question is, how much is he able to reciprocate at this point in his recovery.

Hopefully he is dedicating himself to healing so he can eventually find his way back to you.


#251843 - 09/29/08 06:19 PM Re: Unconditional love vs doormat - where is the line? [Re: Marissa]
Sans Logos Offline

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5796
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
marissa this is progress! keep asking these tough questions, and be willing to receive the tough responses.

huge turning point for you: questioning the values you hold 'sacred', and being willing to adjust your beliefs accordingly.

who will you be on the other side of this crucial moment?

praying for and with you in these tough times,

your brother in recovery,


Ron Schulz, MSPC, NCC

#251846 - 09/29/08 06:25 PM Re: Unconditional love vs doormat - where is the line? [Re: Marissa]
MissMyra Offline

Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 19
Loc: UK

I saw your other post too, and I'm sorry you're going through so much right now. It sounds like a very painful and frustrating situation.

I also used to be with a survivor. And I loved him with all my heart. I posted some of it in another topic, but there are things through which I stood by him and put up with that I'd be too humiliated to even talk about - not for his sake, but for mine! I really did love him to bits and was there for him through thick and thin.

And like you, I felt so darn guilty about even considering to ask with a tiny voice... "but what about me?". It felt like the worst betrayal because it would cause him more pain in some way.

But Marissa, you *do* have a right to have your needs met too! And even more so, you have not only the right but the responsibility to look after yourself. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate as well at the moment - you mentioned an eating disorder and lots of stress and anxiety. Look after yourself! That's not being selfish, that's being kind to yourself.

Every relationship has it's problems. All relationships need to be worked on. And there have to be compromises on both sides, always... At least that's my experience. But it's in part this hard work that makes relationships so valuable and beautiful at the end of the day... as in "Wow! We've come all this way together!". And everyone has their needs and wishes and demons, and every partner has some responsibility to be sensitive towards that. All this is no different for survivors. I think that part of the reason why it's so very difficult for survivors because their demons are the very core of relationships - trust and intimacy.

The tricky bit is finding out how much you can ask for yourself. How much can he give you at the moment? It sounds like he's really struggling, but so are you! And you support him, he should support you too - even though he probably can't give you all that much for the time being. =(

Anyways, I'm rambling now... Just know that you're not alone. And that yes, you do have a right to look after yourself. And that I understand the terrible guilt you must be feeling for asking this - you are very brave to voice it!

I wish you two the best of luck on your journey together. I hope you can overcome this and grow old and wrinkly together. You've got a very big heart, and you certainly deserve someone who loves you the way you want to and need to be loved!

Edited by MissMyra (09/29/08 06:28 PM)

#251848 - 09/29/08 06:35 PM Re: Unconditional love vs doormat - where is the line? [Re: MissMyra]
Sans Logos Offline

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5796
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
that's some superduper rambling you got going on there missmysra....hey how did i get into the family and friends forum.... i musta taken a wrong turn somewhere.

it smells like poppourri in here ....

stay strong, keep the course pointed true north marissa,

your brother in recovery,


Ron Schulz, MSPC, NCC

#251888 - 09/29/08 09:37 PM Re: Unconditional love vs doormat - where is the line? [Re: Sans Logos]
NY Daisy Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/29/08
Posts: 183
Does unconditional mean that the other person is more important than you? You are no good to anyone, if you are not taking care of yourself. You must love yourself unconditionally first, you are just as important as him. Your needs are just as important as his. Don't feel guilty.

I always say that I love my H unconditionally. We have discussed this issue here before. I think that you can love someone with everything you have, but love or not, if you are not getting the same back, it may be time to make a decision.

I have been in this spot with my H, and have felt over the years that I was definitely the only one on the love boat. He had jumped off, and left me to do all the paddling. Given the fact that I was paddling against the current and it was in the middle of a category 5 hurricane, it was definitely not easy. I was having trouble staying afloat, I needed him.

Finally, I told him enough was enough, your either in or out. I set boundaries, I told him flat out, It was not enough to just say the words I love you, I wanted to FEEL loved.He told me that to love me completely would be mean he would have to let himself be VULNERABLE, and he had been protecting himself from that feeling for years.

It took awhile, believe me it was not easy, but it was worth the wait. I literally had to convince him that MY love was true and sincere, that we do not have to agree on everything, that he could TRUST me.

He is a much better person now. He is more relaxed. I never realized how guarded he was. I never realized how many things he sensored for fear I would see that he was not worthy of me. I was shocked, he could be really ruthless verbally at times, but I now know that it wasn't even a quarter of what goes on in his head against himself.

I am sorry you are dealing with this right now, take care of you. Love does not mean you have to be a doormat.


#251968 - 09/30/08 01:18 AM Re: Unconditional love vs doormat - where is the line? [Re: NY Daisy]
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
No Marissa, unconditional love does not mean you just take it, whatever "it" may be. I never wanted or want for the future to have unconditional love from anyone. I need and want someone to make reasonable demands and have reasonable expectations of me. I need to know if I'm making an ass of myself or if I've said or done something to hurt someone. I want to know my faults so I can correct them and I want to know what my mistakes are so I don't repeat them. I want someone to care enough about me and to have enough faith in me to tell me things about myself that aren't pretty because maybe I didn't know it. I may not like what I hear, but if you tell me about it without anger, I can guarantee I'll think about it and hopefully do something about it. I want love; I want someone to adore me, but I don't want them to treat me like a fragile rose behind a cold, hard piece of glass. No one can touch me that way and I'll wither away and die if I'm always behind a shield, no matter how many times someone comes by and says, oh how lovely.

That's what I want, and I can only imagine that's what my b/f, your husband and the others here want too. Now I have to take my own words and live by them. \:\(

ROCK ON..........Trish

If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.

#252049 - 09/30/08 12:20 PM Re: Unconditional love vs doormat - where is the line? [Re: Trish4850]
Junefriday Offline

Registered: 06/06/08
Posts: 113
Loc: Canada
Hi Marissa,

It has helped me to think of "unconditional love" as me being strong enough for both of us because right now, my husband is just starting to build his strenght. But, I will only be the crutch for a while - he will need to learn to stand on his own two legs and will need to develop the strength he will need to support both of us sometime because there will come a time when I WILL NEED HIM. Sometimes a partnership isn't 50-50, but 75-25 on one side, but then hopefully that will shift to 25-75 when needed.

But, I will need to know when to cut the cord.

"Love comes to those who still hope even though they've been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they've been betrayed, to those who still love even though they've been hurt before.

#252678 - 10/03/08 04:32 AM Re: Unconditional love vs doormat - where is the line? [Re: Junefriday]
cstjude Offline

Registered: 09/05/08
Posts: 302
Loc: Canada

I've struggled with this question too. The conclusion I've come to is that the kind of love I aspire to is one that is unselfish but not self-less.

To love a CSA survivor is sometimes an exercise is self-reliance and self-assurance. It helps immensely to have a strong sense of self. For the relationship to survive, I think, CSA partners have to be able to maintain two points of view:

1) That he gives you the best he's able to each and every day; and
2) accept that some days that's not much.

The other important insight that helped me was to really accept that all behaviour has a reason; not to interpret his behaviour in refernce to me or my self-worth; and to be completely honest in my communications with him without resorting to accusations. Instead of "when you do x it makes me x", saying "when I perceive you being X, I react with X because I become (anxious, afraid, hurt)".

I finally reached a point with my loved one where I was able to honestly say to him, "I love you, I cherish you, but I don't need you. You are not responsible for my happiness or my pain, they are my own. My life would be impoverished without you in many ways and I would be pained by the loss, but I would survive."

It was a very liberating moment for us both. But that's just my situation and opinion. And it was a long journey to that point.


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