Authentic Love vs. Inauthentic Love

There’s a lot of chat concerning unconditional love and true love. I like to refer to the two as ‘Authentic Love’ versus ‘Inauthentic Love’. The reason for this is because a lot of us live an inauthentic life, which results in us finding, giving and receiving inauthentic love. 

98% of the Earth’s population is not self-actualised, according to Abraham Maslow. They therefore, act out from a space of unconditional or ‘inauthentic love’ for themselves and others. I believe that, no matter how much self-empowerment work I put myself through, becoming a self-actualised or authentic human being is a never ending process.

As you might know by now, many years ago, I started my own self-transformation journey and chose to learn about and try to practice what I’d heard many people call, ‘Real Love’. Religions often refer to it as ‘Unconditional Love’. I was aware though that although I was adopting a new way of loving, the people who surrounded me would continue to love conditionally (‘inauthentically’), and that contrast would be the biggest challenge. I sensed then that this wouldn’t be a quick fix but a journey in and of itself, where I would inevitably have to face losing people and friends along the way. It’s a normal consequence of choosing deep change and embracing the road of self-actualisation. When we shift the way we give and receive love, the people who give and receive love in the ‘old’ way tend to naturally fall away.

 

What is Authentic Love?

Authentic (‘Unconditional’) Love is when you think, “I care about how you feel”. 

 

What is Inauthentic Love?

Inauthentic (“Conditional”) Love is when you think, “I like how you make me feel” or “the way I make you feel gives me something in return”. An interesting and complex idea no doubt.

The truth is, we like to believe we’re authentically loving when in most cases, we’re not. It’s critical that we’re able to distinguish between these 2 types of love because not doing so leads us to settle for giving and receiving inauthentic love. This will no doubt leave us empty, depleted, unsatisfied, frustrated and unhappy.

Inauthentic love is what we receive from people when we do only what they want, that is to say when we ourselves act inauthentically. Let’s break it down a little more… All of us have a conscious, or more often subconscious, desire to please people or allow them to overstep boundaries because we perceive it to be the path of least resistance (side note: it only ever is at first, long term this is not the case). At times we behave this way because we want to avoid hurting or disappointing others (inherently trying to avoid feeling our own toxic guilt). Other times, we’re simply out to make others happy because we’ve been conditioned to do so since we were younger. In doing so though, we are forgetting a basic truth: we don’t have to make anybody happy but ourselves. In fact, it’s only when we ourselves are happy that we can really make the world happy and contribute to it with authentic joy in our heart.

  image by  Caleb Woods

image by Caleb Woods

Real happiness is giving ourselves permission to simply be ourselves. No conditions. No masks.

Upon explaining this to someone recently, they astutely observed that we must then be, “surrounded by people who don’t love authentically and are intrinsically inauthentic!” Well… yeah. 

I don’t admit this from a judgemental place anymore like I used to. It’s simply fact that most people, including myself, unknowingly act from an inauthentic place. We do so because we’re simply stuck, spellbound on an egoic and soul level. We all believe we’re living authentically and in some respects, we are, so it would be unfair and judgemental to suggest otherwise.

As human beings, realistically, it’s quite utopic and arrogant to believe we can only act and love authentically. Earth is the home of opposites and these ‘two sides’ are what life is fundamentally made of… the Earth is made from a North and a South pole; when the sun goes down, it becomes night; with the ups come some downs… you get the gist. 

To ‘enjoy the ride’ and live and love more authentically, we must learn to say ‘yes’ to both sides because they both serve their own purpose. Living this way will offer balance over struggle, contrary to how many of us ‘survive’.

 

So what does this all mean?

After observing and saying, ‘yes’, to both types of love, we’re better able to embrace them both in ourselves and others, a crucial part of learning to love more authentically. I feel that after 20 years of peeling away the layers, I’ve reached the core of it and transformed the love that I offer to myself and others to mostly, authentic love. This kind of love gives others the freedom to be who they are and us the ability to love them the way that they are. It is also a responsible type of love that requires respect for ourselves and others regardless of culture, religion, gender, status, age or education. Embracing, means saying ‘yes’ and managing and dealing with the inauthentic love we give ourselves and others and also attract from others.

  image by  Todd DeSantis

image by Todd DeSantis

The next step then is moving forward… and moving forward is all about transforming, which demands a deep and personal willingness to do so. It is the step further, which many of us choose not to follow through with, which is totally understandable. 

 

How do we transform?

We cannot transform others and the way they’ve learnt to love, but when we realise that we are similarly acting out from a space of inauthentic, or conditional, love, then we have a choice. We can choose self-responsibility and self-transformation. 

To transform, we can pause, and turn the focus inwards towards our way of loving. We can take a deep breath, deepening our seat in the present within ourselves and work towards freeing ourselves from self-judgement. We can connect with our intellect or Spiritual Self (depending on you) and consciously transform the conditional love we’ve recognised we’re giving by shifting our behavioural choices from trying to make others happy, trying to please them, trying to avoid hurting them (inauthentic) to loving, communicating and living honestly and authentically.

Another step we can take is to take a deep, confrontative look at the origin of the lack of Authentic Love in our own lives. This means searching through the past and committing to clearing the cobwebs through emotional detoxing and deep self-exploration (which I recommend you do guided by a counsellor or coach). This can unblock something deep in the subconscious that you may not have known was even an obstacle, manifesting itself in your life and choices.

We’ve been conditioned from childhood to love in an inauthentic way. It has been a destructive legacy passed down for many generations. Most of us would be so lucky to have received a little, if any, Authentic Love in our lifetimes, so we’ve learnt to settle for giving and receiving Inauthentic Love. We can’t build a solid house on an unstable and disintegrating foundation. If we were not loved with unconditional, Authentic Love as children, that is the foundation we have formed and despite our best efforts to build sturdy walls, double-glazed windows and heavy doors, our house will always struggle to hold itself up confidently and reliably. 

Like Dan Millman says in his book, Body Mind Mastery… we have to go back and repair the foundations of our house in order to be successful at what we do. I would add that, in order to become authentic human beings, living to the full and building the life we want then, we need to be able to say ‘yes’. Yes to going back to basics and reframing those foundations.

With Love. E


Read my blog posts I Am Worthy and Self Awareness: A Lifetime Journey for more on the importance of getting to know yourself and steps on how to.

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