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Conditional Love is a Type
of Emotional Abuse

When you are involved in a serious relationship, it can sometimes be easy to take the person you are with for granted. Everyone expresses love differently. Some people may be more affectionate with their partners while others are more guarded with their affections.

If you have a relationship with someone who is more guarded with their affection, you should be aware that there is a fine line between your partner keeping their feelings to themselves and withholding emotions in an abusive way.

Abusers are not gender specific. Abusers can be men or women, abusing men or women. In many cases, men are victims of abusive behaviors but don’t speak out about their abuse as frequently than women because of established gender roles that dictate they are the “stronger” gender.

Situations that may indicate that your relationship may be unhealthy include the use of “conditional love.” Conditional love is not a true love. This is a “love” that comes with implied or expressed rules that must be followed by either partner in the relationship for it to run smoothly.

It is a type of emotional abuse that causes unhappiness, unease and undue stress in the partner who is not in the dominant role of the relationship.

When someone is using conditional love as a weapon in their relationship, the person in the dominant role may threaten to withhold affection, emotional or financial support, or even physically desert their partner. By doing these things, they are making a “show of strength” that they’re serious about their demands, whatever they may be.

While every situation is different, some examples that an emotional abuser using conditional love as a weapon might include threats like the following. “I love you more when you’re working and making money” or “If you don’t do what I want you to do, I’m leaving you and the kids and never coming back.”

As you can imagine, these types of statements can be terrifying for someone who has a limited support network, a limited income, or young children to take care of. For them, it might seem easier to simply do what their partner wants so as not to “upset the apple cart.”

The truth is, you do not have to accept this type of abuse in your life. There are people and organizations that are designed to help you leave this situation, so you can lead a healthy, productive life without the threat of only being loved conditionally. All you need to do is make the first call for help to break the pattern and get free.

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