General Question

Lunar_Landscape's avatar

If feelings are conditional, what's the point of relationships?

Asked by Lunar_Landscape (301points) October 20th, 2014

Is wanting to bother with relationships just a case of emotion overwhelming logic, or is there more to it?

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10 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

Logic and emotion are not opposed to one another. Everyday decision making is a clear example here. Let’s say I offer you the contents of Box A or Box B. Presumably, you’ll want to know what’s in them before choosing. That’s because the logical choice is to pick the one containing whatever you want more. But wanting is a feeling. It is the input your reasoning needs to figure out what sort of output is most appropriate (that is, choosing Box A or Box B).

That’s pretty simple stuff, but what about relationships? Well, let Box A be “a life with no relationships,” and let Box B” be “a life with relationships.” The logical thing to do here is pick which one you want more. Now, “what you want more” is not necessarily an easy thing to figure out. We have short-term interests and long-term interests, and the reasonable thing to do is not indulge short-term interests that get in the way of our long-term interests. But if we really value Box B enough, then getting into relationships makes sense.

Not everyone is interested enough in relationships to make them worthwhile. Some people are asexual and/or aromantic. Others are interested in both sex and romance, but aren’t interested in having actual relationships. Again, they don’t value Box B enough to make relationships worthwhile for them. But for those who do, relationships make a lot of sense.

But what about the question you raise in the title of your question? Well, the feelings that prompt your desire might be conditional, but that condition could very well last for a long time. It might even last for the duration of your natural life. And in fact, one of the purposes of dating (at least for those who are looking for long-term partners) is to find someone who seems likely to provoke your desire forever.

Being conditional is not the same as being unstable. Conditional means it ends when the conditions that sustain it end. But even if those conditions cannot last forever, sometimes they can last for as long as they could possibly be relevant. One of the conditions for me loving my wife is that I exist (I can’t love her if I don’t exist). When I die—assuming I cease to exist—I will also cease to love her. But the ending of the conditions is hardly relevant to how I should act while I’m still alive and able to love her.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Relationships are equally conditional, like it or not. And the point? I suppose that is as variable as the feelings involved.

chyna's avatar

You can choose to never involve yourself in a relationship if you think that will protect your heart.
But what if you found that person that did accept you and love you unconditionally? You will never know unless you open up and allow others in your life.

dopeguru's avatar

people are needy. some need to feel a lot and some need consistency.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’m one of those people, depending on how you look at it, that prefers conditional love. Why? Well, it’s a loaded answer, but the basics are: I don’t want to love someone for any old reason, and I don’t want someone to love me for any old reason. If that was the case, anyone could love anyone and none of it would… matter, I guess.

I could fall in love with someone who I thought was kind, smart, funny, etc., but if they murdered someone? Nope, sorry, bye-bye. Molested a kid? Same thing. Tortured animals? Same. Those are just some of my personal conditions, but the list goes on and not all of them are quite so serious. However, conditions/standards matter because it’s about trying to find someone who you have things in common with. And honestly, in general, as the very first person who answered you said, this is not something that’s easy to answer because people want different things out of relationships. Relationships are as varied as the people in them.

linguaphile's avatar

I don’t believe that love without conditions exists and believe that every single relationship—whether it is a love, friendship, workplace, or social relationship—has conditions, period.

One of my conditions is whether I can have a conversation with the other person. I can’t have a relationship at all if there’s no communication. I don’t even mean complex, multilayered communication—I mean, even the most basic conversation is needed to even establish a relationship and an ongoing exchange is needed to maintain it. I consider it a no-brainer condition.

I also expect to be treated with respect. Not deference, but respect for me as a human with my own thoughts, wishes, feelings, needs and space. If I’m taken advantage of, lied to, judged without allowing my input, thrown under the bus, unapologetically hurt, etc… that’s the end of our relationship. That’s a condition, and again, a no-brainer condition. It’s not an option.

I believe our conditions are arranged like a pyramid—at the base, we each have different mandatory conditions. Those are things we can’t live without, in terms of relationships. At the second level, there are strong conditions—conditions that we must have in intimate relationships but not so much in acquaintances. At the third level, there are conditions that determine our comfort level. Then there are preferences—conditions we hope for, optimally, but would be willing to live without in certain circumstances. Last there are things that don’t matter to us one way or another.

Now… on the other end, we have “Unconditionality,” or what we’re willing to forgive. Complete unconditionality does not exist in relationships—there’s no way to be totally without conditions. What we consider “giving unconditional love” is actually what we’re willing to give the other person when they go against our comfort zone. It’s what we choose (without coercion or fear) to forgive, overlook, or tolerate—which is still governed by conditions.

I won’t be in a relationship that demands my unconditional love or support—that’s asking me to blindly and without question believe, accept and give. I retain the autonomy to decide how many conditions I’m willing to put aside for the other person.

Believe me, for some people, I’ve put aside quite many conditions—that might look like unconditional love, but the decision to put aside my conditions is still my choice.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Feelings are unconditional as one does not have to rationalize them away since one feels.
One cannot feel “cold” when “hot” etc
Feelings are a response to external stimuli.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Inspired_2write That’s not what “conditional” means. Here is a site that might help you.

fluthernutter's avatar

I’m okay with not dating my mother. Everything else is conditional.

Bill1939's avatar

@Inspired_2write while feelings are a response to external stimuli (sight, smell, sound, touch), how one responds to them is dependent upon their previous experiences, actual, imagined and instructed. Rationalization can alter one’s response. An example of rationalized feelings would be the difference in the perception of a relationship at the beginning and how it is viewed as the intensity of sexual attraction diminishes over time.

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