Are you in a conditional relationship?

When I was a kid there were some social groups in my classroom, 
the cool kids, and the nerds, and there were some other kinds of nerds - me. And despite the fact that we studied for years together, we rarely mixed up together, everyone was with their own group and that happened because we felt good about being in a specific group of people or social group not the otherwise. The cool kids feel even cooler by hanging out with the cool kids, the nerds feel even more nerds for hanging out with the nerds and in the end, everyone felt good.

If you ask why we didn't mix our social groups there was a simple reason for that. If a nerd hangs out with a popular kid, the popular kid would become less popular and judged by the other cool kids for hanging out with someone who wasn't cool and the same would happen to the nerd.

It's a mind game of saying that we love people that we don't love and that we hate people we actually love just to keep appearances and feel better about ourselves and not be judged inside our own group


You hang out with people who make you feel better about yourself, and the moment they make you feel otherwise you stop being a 'friend' of them and you will amass more people to make you feel good about yourself, being more cooler or nerdier. In both cases, these are conditional relationships where if someone threatens your coolness you will stop hanging out with them, and if someone threatens your nerdiness they will stop hanging out with them. Both conditional relationships.

Conditional relationship with "Friends"

When we talk about "Friendship" it's worth reminding that friendship is accepting each other for what they are, it's a mutual affection towards each other with honesty, respect, compassion, and understanding.

But most people confuse 'friends' with people who would do anything they need, whenever they need, that thought actually is an extremely selfish one, obviously conditional. Where the moment one says 'no' to their needs means they won't be 'friends' anymore. And trust me, this is more common than you think.


In most cases, people who have conditional 'friends' suffer from low-self esteem, and that is complemented by those 'friends', example:

  • I like helping people out because I feel better about myself and I feel loved.
  • I blame other people for my problems and emotions, and when someone accepts my problems and emotions I feel loved.

In both examples, we had two different individuals that actually coexist and this is really common, the coexistence of the one who "fixes" and the one who "blames", and this is the most common romantic relationship or friendship type. And the problem is that no one really cares about each other, but they rather use the other to feel better about themselves, and the moment that one change sides, the relationship ends.

That happens because both want to feel loved, and both have different ways to feel loved. If the 'fixer' stops fixing the problems, the 'blamer' will move away. And if the 'blamer' starts being responsible for their own problems and emotions, the 'fixer' will feel lonely and not loved, because there is nothing else to fix and they both won't feel good about themselves. In the end, two things can happen, either the relationship ends, or it becomes unconditional and in most cases, the relationship ends.

I talked to someone a few days ago, let's call her A, and A was frustrated with her 'friend', let's call that 'friend' B, because that B vanished the moment that A needed B over some problems A was going through, but A was frustrated also because in the past 2 years, since they started a friendship she would always say yes and help B, and always listened to B's frustrations and always tried to help B, and now that A needs help, B just vanished. Why? Because B is selfish and her condition for friendship using A for her well-wish, and B felt good about herself. And A felt 'wanted'/needed'/'loved' for being used by B. But there is a certain discrepancy here, A wanted to feel 'needed' and that was A's condition, while B wanted to use A whenever it was necessary because B's condition was being a 'victim'. A's conditions never changed despite evolving from helping out to looking for help (wanted, needed, loved), and B's conditions never changed as well, she kept her part of being a 'victim', but as you can see, A crossed the interests of B for becoming also a 'victim', and the relationship ended.

As you can see, A and B had their conditions, that generated drama, fights, resentment, and their relationship obviously couldn't last, because, in the end, it was a conditional relationship. And when the conditions evolve and overlap or end, well the relationship ends also.

If it was an unconditional relationship, both would respect each other, B would not use A for her own profit and A would not create drama for B being not available, and the relationship would remain alive.

Conditional relationship with "Partners"

Not everyone leaves their conditional relationship behind and those conditions are pretty much the same they had with their classmates and with friends, they still live for the own benefit. They could never let go of the belief that love and acceptance are contingent on some benefit they are providing to other people, some conditions that they need to fulfill.

Again, the problem with the conditional relationship is that they prioritize something above the relationship. That means, it is not you that I really care about, but your success. Or it's not me that you really care about, but my body and the sex.

These conditional relationships can get really fucked up on the emotional level. Because 'love' is involved, and chasing something to make us feel better about ourselves using 'love' will probably become a shit-storm. Because it's not you that I really care about, but the fact that I'm rather using you to make me feel good about myself. Maybe I'm using you for sex or money, or to impress my friends. Maybe you are using me for sex, and that makes me feel good because for once I feel wanted and noticed.

In other words, conditional relationships are like this: "I'll love you only if you make me feel good about myself, and you will love me only if I make you feel good about yourself."

When I care more about your money than you, then I have a relationship with your money, you are just the provider. If you care more about her success than her, then you have a relationship with her career. If your mother only cares for you and puts up with your drug use habit that's because it makes her feel better as a mother, then she doesn't have a relationship with you, she has a relationship with feeling good about herself as a mother.

When our relationships are conditional, we don't really have a relationship at all. We attach to superficial objects and ideas and then we try to live through them using the people we become close to. The truth is that those conditional relationships make us even more lonely because no real connection is made.

And in that same conditional relationship comes the toxicity AKA toxic relationships. That relationship causes us to tolerate being treated poorly. After all, if I'm dating someone for their money, then I will allow myself to be treated poorly because after all, I'm not with her for how she treats me, I'm with her because of her money. The same for anything that is based on conditions, anything that isn't based on how they treat you.

Relationships based on unconditional love.

This transitory nature of conditional relationship is usually something people will only see with the passage of time. When we are teenagers we are just discovering our identities and it makes sense as the teenagers are constantly obsessed with measuring themselves as compared to others, and of course, the teenagers are more self-absorbed. And after a few years, most people start to realize that only a few sticks in their lives. And there is a reason for that.

As people age, most start to prioritize unconditional relationships, where one is accepted unconditionally independent of who they are, without any additional expectations. And that is called adulthood and it's a place that few people, regardless of age, sex ever see, much less inhabit.

The secret of that 'adulthood' comes from prioritizing unconditional relationships, learning to appreciate someone despite their flaws, stupid ideas, mistakes and judging a friend or partner solely based on how they treat you, not based on how you benefit from them.

Unconditional relationships exist when two people respect and support each other without the expectations of return, that is, each one values the relationship itself for the empathy, respect, and support, and not for success, job, status, appearances or anything else.


They are the only real relationships. They can't be shaken away by the ups and downs of life. They are not altered by superficial benefits and failures. If we have an unconditional relationship, it doesn't matter if I lose my job, or if I move to another city or country. We would keep respecting and supporting each other. It's not a relationship if I stop being friends with you because you are not popular or not nerdy. In fact, that doesn't matter, what matters is the friendship itself, the respect and support, the rest is just rest.

People who have conditional relationships have never learned to see people around them in terms that are not for their own benefit that is provided to them. And that happens because they grew up in environment where they were appreciated by the benefits they provided. And who's the one to blame?

Parents, as usual, are often the culprit here. But most parents aren't consciously conditional towards their children(probably they didn't even know they loved their children conditionally, in fact, chances are that they were not loved unconditionally by their parents either, so they are just repeating what they know) but as any relationship skill, it starts in the family.

If your mother only liked or appreciated you when you did what she asked; if your dad approved you only when he thought what you did was right; if your brother gave you attention only when there was no one around. Those things trained you subconsciously to treat yourself as some tool for other people's benefit. You will then build your future molding yourself to fit other people's need. Not yours. You will also build relationships by manipulating others to fit your owns needs rather than taking care of them yourself. The basis of a toxic relationship.

How to repair this and have unconditional relationships.

Most people enter into a conditional relationship unconsciously, for only one reason, it feels really good, yet they never asked why it's so good to be with this person. After all, who cares who this person is or what they think about you or what their behavior towards you indicate. You just see them hanging with 'cool' people and envy their 'coolness' and want to be close to them.

So if you want to know if you are in a conditional relationship, ask yourself.

  • "If I lost my job, would my dad still love and respect me?"
  • "If I stopped calling to my mother every day, would she still send me money and accept me?
  • If I told my partner/friend that I want to quit my job and do something else, would they respect and support my decision?
  • If I stopped having sex with him, would he still bother calling me?
  • If I strongly disagreed with X, would X still be my friend?

But you have to ask them about yourself, too.

  • If I moved to another city, would I keep in touch with Y?
  • If X stopped giving me a ride back home, would I bother hanging out with X?
  • If my parents stop sending money, would I still bother calling or visiting them?
There are infinite hypothetical questions we can ask ourselves and we should do this all the time.

Because if any of them have an answer different than 'it would change nothing', then you probably have a conditional relationship, in other words, you don't have a real loving relationship what you think you have. Ouch...It's hard to admit, but it's true.

But there is a way to fix or remove these conditional relationships from your life and have unconditional relationships. Well...You are going to piss some people off, we could even say 'fuck' some people off because you have to stop accepting other peoples conditions. And you have to let go of your own.

And that can be done in a simple way, that is saying 'no' to someone when they least expect to hear that. That will cause drama. A lot of drama in most of the cases. Why? Because you will be taking from someone something that they use to feel good about themselves. Maybe was your sex; maybe it was your money. You will be denying what they were using to make them feel good about themselves. The reactions? They will be pissed off, angry, they will start creating drama and blame you, call you all kinds of names.

And those reactions are a proof that they were conditional relationships, proof that they were using you as a tool to make them feel better about themselves. A real honest loving relationship is willing to respect and accept something it doesn't want to hear. A conditional love will fight back.

But it's a necessary drama. Two things will happen.

  1. They won't be able to let go of their conditions and will remove themselves from your life.
  2. They will be forced to appreciate you unconditionally, to love you in spite the inconveniences that you will pose to themselves or to their self-esteem.
It's worth reminding that you can only have unconditional relationships when you have an unconditional relationship with yourself, appreciate your qualities and flaws, accept who you are without judging, and only after that, you will be able to see others with different eyes.

And believe me, however simple it may be to just say 'no', actually it's extremely hard to do. But relationships are hard by nature, dealing with people is hard by nature. But if you want real relationships, then there is only one way to get that: facing the challenge of saying 'no' to people who have been using parts of you for their own benefit. And that's the hard part. But if life was just all about fun and orgasms, then nothing good would ever get done. And no one would ever grow.

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