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Unconditional Love: is it possible to love men for who they are?

Or will it always be for what they provide…?

Zackary Henson
5 min readMar 28, 2022


Hard truths tend to hurt more than anything. Whether they be truths about what is externally uncontrollable, or whether it’s truths that we’ve been running from that we can actually change ourselves.

The comedian Chris Rock said in one of his stand up specials, “only women, children and dogs are loved unconditionally…a man is only loved under the condition that he provides something.”

Props to the people who created a very theatrical edit to these words. It felt like a knife in the heart, ya jerks.

I was always a romantic as a teenager and in my twenties. Sometimes I was very much a hopeless romantic. I was a Casanova inspired little kid. When it came to girls, all I could think of was how to sweep them off their feet. The gifts, the flowers, the notes, the whisper of sweet nothings…I was overwhelmed of the thought of love I would receive if I did all the right things.

Maybe it was just the hormones…maybe it was naivety. I just loved women! I love the prospect and the potential. I dreamed of having this partner that could understand my soul and who would let me into hers. Someone who hold her own in the world, but would come to me to pick her up when she broke. A woman who would fight for me, fight against me, fight with me, then fuck away the anger. Someone who would laugh with me, struggle with me, and face the world of demons with me.

But as each relationship ended and my heart lost a small piece of itself each time, so did my confused understanding of love start to expand to an overwhelming pressure. For some reason, no matter how sweet I was, it was never enough. I didn’t get it.

Now, I don’t want to discredit the fact that puppy love and lack of identity can truly make for a very needy personality in a young man…yeah, me. I know(now) that I was definitely suffocating at times. So, as I frantically started trying to find what women wanted, what else would I have found besides the basic tangible things every man tends to use to prove himself: money, house, car, physique, status, lying to ourselves about the inch marks on a tape measure….

Love is a messy thing. And complex as fuck. We always have to consider endless possibilities that make relationships unhealthy: codependency, attachment theory, superficiality, narcissism, victim mentality, dominant/subordinate dynamics, and so on and so on.

But…why do women love men?

The hard truth that I found is that even as the world grows into equality or “power balance”, relationship expectations aren’t really changing. How many centuries has man been the protector and the provider? As the “power” in a relationship, strong men were always attractive because of their ability to serve and to give the feeling of safety and a healthy future. Women were the caregivers, the soothers, the one’s who broke man’s war-like rigidity to give him peace.

In a lot of ways, I can agree with this dynamic. In the way of traditionalism, I think that it’s a healthy mindset for men to be providers and protectors. We fill a roll that isn’t just a modern expectation, but an evolutionary trial to dissolve weakness. It gives us purpose and drive and a very necessary challenge that evokes the best in us. It’s a good lesson in which we can become highly adaptable, lucrative, and most importantly, identify who we are and our place in the world.

So, is this really all it takes to be a man? FUCK NO.

We all know what a highly masculine man with no empathy, emotional intelligence or ability to be present does…even though he’s fooling women.

I’m not unique, but I pride myself on my own abilities. The one’s that are very atypical of men. I rely on my heart to lead me. It has aided me at times and completely fucked me at others.

After reading David Deida’s “The Way of the Superior Man”, I finally came to terms with the fluidity of the masculine and feminine. I finally became okay with myself; not demonizing myself for not being hard, ruthless, and dominant.

The problem?

Even though women have been screaming for men to be empathetic, kind, present, compassionate, and better listeners(I thought I would be irresistible. Haha.)…it’s not enough. Men don’t get to be all of these things if they cannot also be masculine men. Men that are adaptive, strong, successful, and have a strong status(generally speaking).

As tough as it was for me to accept this, and as resentful as I was for it, I learned to accept it. I had worked so hard to be myself, to be the soft side that so many women asked for…and it would never be enough. But, I think this is the hard truth that all men must accept: whatever part of the spectrum you tend to bend to(masculine vs. feminine), it becomes your life’s work to balance yourself out.

Can men be loved just for being who they are? No.

Whether its foundationally built by evolution, or whether it’s just a social structure built between the sexes, it seems that it’s here to stay.

The only thing I think that truly needs to be considered is this: balance has no bias as long as it stays in balance.

I do believe there are such things as ‘power couples’. Two people who are strong, adaptable, self-sustaining humans that both run businesses, that have goals and a vision. But the best part of relationships is how we balance each other out; how we find middle ground to compromise and compliment on.

I don’t know if men will ever be able to be loved unconditionally.

It may be too ingrained into who we are as humans and our society that we are trustworthy and capable of maintaining and growing external resources. BUT…I do think men deserve far more credit for what they can do for women beyond status, wealth, and chivalrous door-openers. I think a lot men have been trying their asses off to “good men”. Attractive men. Capable men. Worthy men.

As for myself, I thought I was owed something just because I was compassionate and willing to love another human. But the fact is, I let the world decide my fate until my late 20’s. Not exactly an attractive trait for a man.

I don’t think unconditional love for men is a truth that will ever be realized. But I also think that “unconditional love” is a set of words grouped together to make us feel better about our shortcomings. I don’t know if it truly exists for any man OR woman. Can we truly imagine continuing to love a partner that doesn’t love themselves? Someone who doesn’t work on their own mental, physical and spiritual health? Someone who can’t or gives up on their own sovereignty and personal adaptability? Someone who doesn’t work for what they want? Who is a victim and pessimistic? Who relies on the world to tell them who they should be rather than deciding for themselves?

I don’t think so.

Maybe unconditional love doesn’t exist….maybe it’s respected self-love and self-care that makes love possible.

Love yourself hard my friends.