“When should love be conditional?” she asked. That was just one of many great questions that a student asked during one of my recent speaking engagements at St. Augustine’s University in North Carolina as a part of “Building & Maintaining Healthy Relationships” speaking engagement series. There were a ton of great questions thrown my way by this vibrant and curious group of motivated Millennials. But this one particular question stood out to me for some reason… “When should love be conditional?”
I paused for a moment before I responded to the question. I didn’t pause because I didn’t have a response. I paused because it was at that point; I realized that in many ways, we are committing a real disservice to our next generation. This question was asked about midway through what ended up being about a 90-minute session.
There were many questions before that question that were as genuine, sincere, and curious about how to be in a healthy relationship. These weren’t just the basic “how long should we date before we commit” or “how do you know when you’ve found the right one” questions. Those questions were asked too, but a lot of the questions revolved around how do you love someone and what does love look like, act like, and feel like.
I’m sure that the session was as revealing to me as it was to the students, if not more. What did I learn you might be wondering? I’m glad you asked.
I learned that, in many cases, at least based on the hundreds of conversations that I’ve had with Millennials about healthy relationships, that they have not grown up seeing a lot of great examples of healthy relationships. So much so, that many of them don’t know what real love looks like.
Where I am encouraged in this story is that I believe that this generation of love-seeking Millennials will look to make sure they don’t repeat that same cycle with their kids.
It has been refreshing to speak to groups of students that express as much curiosity, desire, and interest in learning about the essence and power of love as they are about the classes and courses in which they are enrolled.
What else did I learn?
I learned that each generation should not be so focused on giving the next generation the things that we didn’t have that we forget to give them the things they need.
I also learned that we can teach what we know but we reproduce who we are. We can’t expect Millennials to know the things that we want them to know and behave the way we want them to behave if we don’t teach them, and more importantly if we don’t show them.
Below are three lessons that I want my millennial crew to take away from this message.
- Love should never be conditional. Love should always be unconditional, but always make sure the actual relationship is governed by conditions.
- Love is not just a feeling or an emotion; love is an action that you take.
- Love is and always will be your greatest leadership attribute. As long as you lead with love, you will always win, because love never fails.